HAYWARD — Abandoning a project to restore downtown's Palmtag Building, a retail developer wants to tear down the historic structure and replace it with something new.

Plans unveiled last year to refurbish the ailing Palmtag to its 19th-century splendor are not going to happen, according to Oakland-based Browman Development Co., the building owner since 2003.

"It doesn't work structurally," said Susan Daluddung, Hayward's director of community and economic development. "I think they gave it a valiant effort. It's been almost a year."

Browman announced in March 2006 that the company hoped to rehabilitate the prominent two-story building to make room for a new Peet's Coffee & Tea shop at B Street and Mission Boulevard.

Company officials did not return calls for comment, but a city report released Friday states that seismic, rent and electrical problems make the project economically unfeasible.

Browman still has an agreement with Peet's,but now wants to house the coffee shop and other stores in a brand-new one-story building at the same corner.

Daluddung said the new plan seems like a "more wise alternative for someone investing so near to the Hayward Fault." The fault's main trace runs beneath a park just across the street from the Palmtag.

The building is not one of the 13 properties in Hayward that the city has officially deemed historic, said Jim DeMersman, director of the Hayward Area Historical Society.

DeMersman said the building was built around 1898. A photograph of the building after the 1906 earthquake shows it damaged, but structurally intact.

The next century, however, saw the Palmtag gradually altered from its original Victorian design. Gone are the protruding second-floor windows and detailed cornices, although the structure still maintains most of an original archway that fronts onto B Street.

"This particular building has changed dramatically since the time it was built," DeMersman said. "It doesn't even really look the same."

Previous building owners completed a required seismic retrofit of the Palmtag Building, but Daluddung said that retrofit makes most of the second floor unusable.

On Monday night, Browman is scheduled to reveal its latest plans for the property: A new building that would be integrated into the large contemporary shopping center the company built and owns in the same block. That center includes an Albertsons supermarket, Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Subway sandwich shop.

The new building would somewhat resemble Browman's other retail buildings, but with a few architectural flourishes inspired by the old Palmtag.

The Palmtag's largest tenant, Silver Spoon Hofbrau, vacated the building in late 2005, but a florist, a magazine shop and a bar/restaurant still occupy the other end of the building. All but the restaurant, B Street Bar and Grill, would be vacated and removed if Browman's plans to take down the Palmtag are approved.

Apart from Peet's, Browman has not disclosed what stores it intends to have occupy the new building. The plan is to begin construction in December and complete the project by fall 2008, which is the same time that the 12-screen Cinema Place complex is scheduled to open a few blocks away.

More condos downtown

In other downtown news, the Hayward Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night, with Commissioner Rodney Loche absent, to approve a 44-unit condominium complex at the corner of Main and C streets.

"This is the product-type du jour throughout the Bay Area right now," John Baer, director of real estate for Matteson Realty, told planning commissioners about his project Thursday. "This is an element of smart growth. You're condensing your sites. You're growing up."

The four-story, brick-laden development will rise 53 feet over Main Street, making it taller than almost all of downtown's existing buildings. The neighboring Green Shutter Hotel is 36 feet high.

Commissioners were enthusiastic about the project, which will include a small amount of ground-floor retail. A neighboring B Street business owner objected, saying the new building would block off his rear parking spaces.

Matt O'Brien can be reached at (510) 293-2473 or mattobrien@dailyreviewonline.com.