The developers behind the Scotts Valley Town Green project are reducing the amount of residential units they are seeking and hope to start construction early next year.
Town Green LLC held the last of four planned public meetings Feb. 7 at the Community Center. They talked about why the project had evolved from a retail center to a residential one in the more than ten years since the Town Center Specific Plan was first drafted.
“I think everybody realizes the retail environment’s changed so we’ve adapted our plan to what we think will stand the test of time,” Doug Ross, a principal with the developer, said referring to the rise of Amazon and other online retailers.
After being questioned by a community member, Ross talked about why that change is necessary.
“There’s no question that close to half, or more based on surface area, of this project is residential because we need that economic engine to pay for all these improvements, pay for the town green and provide a community facilities district so we can maintain this without any additional burden to the city,” he said, referring to not increasing taxes or fees to pay for the Town Green.
He also added that they have reduced the number of apartments and townhomes on the 13.5 acre site in response to public outcry expressed during three other meetings, 125 survey responses and meetings with 67 local businesses.
“What we’ve done over the evolution of these community meetings and other feedback is we have reduced our housing units,” Ross said. “Our proposal originally, if we were selected by the council, we had 310 units. We’re now reducing that density down to 225, 235 range depending upon our product mix. We’ve lowered the heights — originally had a lot of four-story buildings. Now the majority of our buildings are two- and three-storys.”
Ross told people at the meeting that the Town Green would be more than residences, describing a central point for social events.
“We’ve got a large focus on food, beverage and entertainment because we think that will be the catalyst to draw people to the town,” he said, describing indoor and outdoor dining, a one-acre open green space for events and walkable street. “We’ve identified a potential anchor that we can’t disclose at the moment.”
Another community member asked about the amenities that are already on the land, including the dog park. Ross said they were working with the city to relocate the dog park before construction.
The developers are also working with the farmer’s market to relocate there as well as Scotts Valley festivals. The plan’s architect, Jon Wordon, called adding a town center to an already established urban environment the equivalent of a “heart transplant” with all the preparation and care that goes with it.
The developers must submit their plan, economic data, environmental impact report and other documents to the city by the end of March. The planning commission will then make a recommendation to the City Council, which has the last word about the future of Town Green.
“This process is going to continue and we want to get everyone’s input,” Ross promised.
He said the group hopes to have final approvals by the end of this year and break ground by next spring. The affordable housing elements he said would be funded by tax credits and come after the main construction had begun. He said they were moving fast with one goal in mind.
“What we don’t want is to create this great town green and then have it under construction for the next five years, have it as a noisy dustbowl.”