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New Development Project looks at Newell Avenue

Feb 27, 2017 08:50PM ● By Jennifer Neys

Newell Development

City Council looks at redevelopment plans for 1536-1560 Newell

On February 7, Associate Planner Greg Kapovich presented a report on the Newell Promenade Development project, currently in the pre-application stage, to city council to solicit feedback on whether or not the council would consider a general plan amendment allowing increased height and floor area ratio (FAR) on the project. The applicant (Paceline Investors) has approached the city and expressed an interest in redeveloping the 1.77-acre commercial site, consisting of two separate parcels located at 1536-1560 Newell Avenue, between Trader Joe’s and Agora at South Main. The project would include demolition of the existing Newell Shopping Center allowing construction of a five-story (54 feet), 120,574 square-foot building containing 102 residential apartment units and 4,200 square feet of retail space. The site currently contains a one story, approximately 23,000 square-foot retail shopping center. Site improvements include a 15-foot wide promenade and linear greenbelt along Las Trampas Creek, to be shared by both pedestrians and bicyclists. The development as proposed would require a general plan amendment to modestly increase the allowed overall building height from 50 to 54 feet high and a slight increase in Floor Area Ratio (FAR).

“Housing is a need in Walnut Creek, which is why this is designated mixed use commercial to stay consistent with the general plan. In terms of height, I think this needs to be appropriately configured, not squished. Retaining it at 50 feet when there is another 10 feet available allowing this project to look good for the community and work right for the residents is important to me, so I encourage us to go forward, and I would be amenable to the general plan amendment if it wasn’t flat across the top and used the additional height for visual appeal,” said Councilmember Cyndi Silva. Councilmember Loella Haskew added, “I think trading good design for four feet is a good choice. What we’re selling is a chance to be by the creek. I would suggest some kind of art walk, something interesting that will pull people into the area.”

The project plans, currently in the preliminary stage in the process, will go to design review and the planning commission before heading back to city council. The public comment was supportive of the project overall.