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Santa Maria City Council to discuss proposed five-story mixed-use development next to Town Center mall

Proposed Santa Maria development
Image courtesy of The Vernon Group/RRM Design Group

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The Santa Maria City Council is set to discuss on Tuesday night a proposed five-story mixed-use development that is planned next to the Santa Maria Town Center mall.

During the meeting, council members will consider entering into a disposition and development agreement with the Vernon Property Group for city surplus land on the highly-visible site that is located on the corner of Broadway and Main Street.

"It requires Vernon to build this mixed-use project," said Chuen Ng, Santa Maria Community Development Director. "The city is providing some financial incentives to facilitate this development. We've imposed some design expectations in exchange for those financial incentives. It will allow Vernon to move forward with planning documents, construction documents to get this project going."

The Santa Barbara-based developer has proposed a mixed-use building that would include 6,700 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, as well as 88 residential apartment units.

Under the current proposal, there would be 50 studio apartments, 28 one-bedroom units, and 10 two-bedrooms units.

"We're looking at placemaking and activating the area," said The Vernon Group President Brett Vernon. "Our goal is to make it to where there's a lot of people in the area at all different times of the day, not just the morning and afternoon rush hours. We want people to be hanging out, shopping, eating, just meeting with people, having events later at night. We're trying to rebuild and remake that area a super desirable spot in downtown."

The city added that approval of the agreement is part of an implementation plan for the revitalization of the downtown area. Project completion of Lot 3 would add more housing into the downtown area, as well as retail and dining amenities. It would also generate momentum for continued redevelopment of downtown, including development on remaining city-owned parcels and privately-owned land.

"This is consistent with the Downtown Specific Plan, which was approved back in 2015," said Ng. "There would be a vision that downtown would walkable, and to create a walkable downtown, you do need a higher intensity of uses, and a mix of uses, residential, commercial, open spaces, plazas, and this proposed project reflects that."

In addition to the Lot 3 proposal, The Vernon Group has several other downtown projects in the works. The company last month laid out plans that will transform the now closed Fallas store into a mixed-use development.

"It's something the City of Santa Maria has identified as the spot that they really want to activate and put a lot of energy and focus into," said Vernon. "Fallas will probably be the first step, but that's kind of an internal footprint, right around that building, and then Lot 3 would be very soon thereafter."

Should the Lot 3 project receive City Council approval, it will still need several other hurdles to clear before earning a final green light to proceed with construction.

Both the city and Vernon said it will likely take at least a year before final approval can be gained. If that were to happen, it would likely be another two to three years of construction before the new development would be completed.

The Santa Maria City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday, August 16 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Article Topic Follows: Business Matters
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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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