Posted on: October 10, 2022
Source: The Independent; Author: David Jen
PLEASANTON — Over 150 residents participated in the first Stoneridge Framework community meeting last week, where the public’s thoughts around a possible Stoneridge Mall housing project began to organize under some larger themes, such as safety, traffic, and competition with the city’s downtown.
Held by the planning commission on Sep. 26, the virtual meeting invited public input on the possibility of repurposing some of the mall property to build 1,300 to 1,800 housing units around a core retail space.
“The framework, in a nutshell, is a focused planning effort to provide initial policy guidance (and) conceptual planning for Stoneridge Mall,” said Director of Community Development Ellen Clark.
The city council voted last month to launch the exploration process in light of several recent developments favoring the mall’s conversion.
“We’ve seen a number of changes and shifts that start to suggest that this is really a critical moment for the mall,” said Clark. “Those include some changes over the last couple of years in the retail environment, more broadly in the economy that supports retail activity — preferences among consumers about where and how they shop.”
New ownership at the JCPenney and Nordstrom sites at a time when Pleasanton is struggling to place an additional 5,965 state-mandated housing units in the city also spurred interest in the project.
“(This process) is really being motivated and driven by the property owners themselves who are anxious to try and make a different use — not all of them and not all properties, but especially the closed ones and the ones with lots of parking — make a better use of their property,” said Jason Moody, managing principal at economic and planning systems.
Of the four original anchor stores — Nordstrom, Sears, JCPenney and Macy’s — only the latter two remain open.
Rick Williams, of Van Meter Williams Pollack, the urban design and planning firm hired by the city, presented initial proposals for the project. These include a conversion of the northern parking sector to high-density residential; a previously approved gym, theater and retail plaza on the old Sears site; and 360 units of housing on the parcel adjacent to Sears, already zoned for housing.
“One of the goals of the structure plan is to (decide) how to integrate these in an appropriate way so that they become greater than the sum of their parts,” said Williams.
The mall’s western parcels would not undergo redevelopment in the first phase.
Residents, like Michael Ko, asked that any residential project keep water usage and affordability in mind.
Williams also drew comparisons to the Northgate Mall in San Rafael, the Americana at Brand in Glendale, and the Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek to help inform the discussion.
Commissioner Matthew Gaidos relayed concerns around safety heard during the meeting’s breakout sessions.
“Anything that we do, we need to make sure that the members of our community want to go and spend time in a place when they feel safe doing that,” he said. “I don’t feel comfortable sending my kids to the mall right now. I don’t particularly like going there. I work for the DA’s (District Attorney’s) office and see a significant number of thefts and problems and cars getting broke into.”
Residents also worried about traffic in the area.
Already home to the Workday headquarters and the 10x Genomics headquarters, among other businesses, the area generates significant rush-hour traffic, and the effects of an additional 1,800 housing units requires consideration, said residents.
Mike Tassano, Pleasanton traffic engineer, while supportive of traffic analyses, pointed out that residential projects tend to generate traffic flows opposite that of office projects.
Another discussion theme involved complementing Pleasanton’s downtown in lieu of competing with it.
“I think downtown is a very unique and special environment,” said Clark. “It has an authenticity and a character that, with all the best will in the world, a new shopping center could not replace.”
Finally, residents tried to juggle various uses for the space, from outdoor shopping to parks and multi-use paths.
Resident Sarah Hoster said, “A lot of people use the mall, or have used the mall historically, as sort of a walking area when the weather wasn’t so great, and so they would like to see that incorporated.”
City staff will present feedback from last week’s meeting, along with that from a second community meeting in November, to the Planning Commission and City Council in December.
Residents can also provide feedback on the project at stoneridgemallframework.com.
Read the full article, here.
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