ALBANY -- The University Village project will return to the Albany Planning and Zoning Commission at the May 8 meeting, the first public step since the controversial project lost its anchor tenant and was subject to a referendum drive that forced the City Council to rescind a development agreement.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Albany City Hall, 1000 San Pablo Ave.
The agenda for the meeting had not been posted as of Wednesday morning. However, new plans are to be introduced, with the public notice stating that a proposed grocery store has been scaled down and that housing will be reoriented. No action on the plans is expected, with the meeting's intention being to have a study session and gather feedback on the new plans.
"It's a 28,000-square-foot grocery store as opposed to 44,000 which was approved last summer," said Kevin Hufferd, director of property development for the University of California. "It's half the size of the market in the (project environmental impact report)."
The new plans are available online at albanyca.org.
During public hearings on the previous version of the project, many residents had voiced concerns about the size of the store.
The proposed development of the property along San Pablo Avenue at Monroe Street has been in the works for six years. The University of California owns the property and would like to develop a mixed-use project.
The proposal approved last year by the City Council before the referendum was submitted called for assisted living housing, with Whole Foods Market as an anchor tenant. However, Whole Foods Market pulled out of the project after signatures were gathered for the referendum and two lawsuits were filed by opponents.
At the time, the university said the project was still on track and that a new anchor tenant would be found.
One of the lawsuits was filed by Albany Strollers & Rollers, a bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group, and Carbon Neutral Albany, to force better bicycle access. That suit was recently settled, with the university agreeing to include a separated cycle track as part of any development.
The City Council will consider what Hufferd called "modest" amendments to "clarify language" in the environmental documents associated with the project at its May 6 meeting.
Sprouts Farmers Market, a chain with about 150 stores in eight states, will be the new anchor tenant, according to the plans. Hufferd said the deal with Sprouts is not finalized, but he expects it to go through.
"We're working out agreements with the developer and the developer is making out the agreement with the market," he said. "If the project moves along in a timely way, we can count on Sprouts being part of the project."
The development plans do not include the neighboring university land known as the Gill Tract, which was subject to protests beginning in April, 2012.
A group called "Occupy the Farm" broke into the site, long used for agricultural study by the university, and planted crops.
The university forcibly evicted the group a month later, although protesters returned to the land several times to tend to the crops. Those protesters claim UC plans to eventually develop that land. The university denies the claims and has said it will continue to use the land for agricultural research.