Saranap Village Revenue-Sharing
Parking Plan Proposed
December or January Project Approval Expected,
Developer Tells SCA Annual Meeting
Developer Tells SCA Annual Meeting
JULY 19—A proposal to share Saranap Village parking meter revenue with the community was introduced by the developer at the SCA’s annual meeting July 17. Mark Hall, the president and CEO of Hall Equities Group, also told the gathering that he expects final approval of the Saranap Village project to come in December or January. Hall’s 45-minute presentation included renderings of the four buildings making up the development and a series of slides showing what it would look like from various points in the surrounding neighborhood.
Parking plan. Under the metered-parking revenue-sharing concept outlined by Hall, excess revenue from parking meters in the development would go into a trust fund for improvements within the Saranap. Money from the meters would first go toward covering Saranap Village maintenance costs, such as upkeep of the roundabout, lighting, and landscaping, which Hall estimates would run about $75,000 a year. Any money generated beyond that would go into a county-administered trust fund for new sidewalks, storm drains, landscaping, and other improvements in the Saranap.
Plans call for “smart meters” along Boulevard Way with different maximum parking times at different times of day, depending on use patterns. For example, there would be longer maximum times early in the morning for health club patrons, who would tend to stay longer than retail shoppers later in the day. When the grocer and other stores were open, there would be shorter maximum times. These would be private parking meters. While cities in Contra Costa County have their own parking meters, the county itself doesn’t have meters in unincorporated areas like the Saranap.
Project timeline. Hall said the county is behind schedule on the draft EIR for the project but that he expects the final draft to be complete by mid-October. The next step would be to bring the report before the county planning commission, which he anticipates would happen in October or November. Then it would go to the board of supervisors in November or December. Final approval, he said, should come in December or January. The timing of the project would depend in part on when work is completed on Sufism Reoriented’s new Boulevard Way sanctuary.
Village views. At the meeting Hall showed renderings of the four buildings that would make up Saranap Village, three of which were quite different than those produced by the project’s original architect and posted on HEG’s Saranap Village website last year. The three buildings whose designs have changed – A, B, and B1 – are described in articles on the project here on the SCA website. These are the buildings that include retail on the ground floor and residences above. (An article on the fourth building, which would include only for-sale condos, will be published soon.)
Hall showed a series of slides his firm produced for a county-required “visual view simulation,” which shows how the project would look from various points in the surrounding neighborhood. Because the development would be largely built in a depression – the land slopes down along Boulevard Way and Saranap Avenue, with the low point at the intersection – even the taller buildings were scarcely visible from the eight locations shown, which were chosen by the county.
Retail progress. Hall said his firm already has a commitment from a bank to occupy the “mini-bank” space in Building A and has a “very good operator” for the health club upstairs, though he did not name either. HEG’s agreement with San Francisco-based Philz Coffee to occupy the café across the street in Building B1 is tentative, he noted, contingent on HEG signing a grocer. Hall said he’s already talked to three prospective tenants for the grocery store, none of which was the right fit. But “I’m confident we’re going to get a good-quality grocer,” he stated, adding that “The grocer is critical for this project.”
Bike parking. Addressing concerns that there might not be adequate parking for bicycles in the project, Hall said plans call for 46 spaces in eight locations on the street and 175 in the buildings themselves, which together is 70 more than are required by the county.
Roundabout art. Acknowledging the difficulty in finding public art that is widely liked, Hall said his company is in talks with consultants and reviewing many artists’ recommendations for art for the main roundabout, at the Boulevard Way–Saranap Avenue intersection. He showed a drawing of one piece under consideration, an open “weathering steel” sculpture consisting of dozens of butterflies, by artist Zadok Ben-David. (You can see a sculpture based on the same concept on Ben-David’s website.)
Sandwich shop? Hall said he’s been asked if Saranap Village would include a Subway sandwich shop or other retail businesses like those typically found in strip malls. His response: “Not in a million years. The last thing we would do is put retail in that would bring the value of the property down.”
The July 17 SCA meeting was held at Grace Presbyterian Church, on Tice Valley Boulevard. More than 150 SCA members and neighbors attended. All four SCA board members on the ballot – David Dacus, Charles Huddleston, Stephanie Monson, and Chris Schroeder – were reelected. No one was nominated for the three vacant seats on the board.