Planning commission to review Bonfante development proposal

Gilroy
– A development proposal critical to the financial health of
Bonfante Gardens will undergo its first round of city review
Thursday night.
Gilroy – A development proposal critical to the financial health of Bonfante Gardens will undergo its first round of city review Thursday night.

Development company Shapell Industries will go before the Planning Commission with a proposal to build 118 homes and a community park as a northern adjunct to its Eagle Ridge golf course and housing community, off Santa Teresa Boulevard.

The development of the land, which borders the horticulturally-themed park south of Highway 152, has some residents worried about the potential effects on the environmentally sensitive Uvas Creek area. In particular, they have expressed concern about creating access roads.

The current plan would create dual entry points. Primary access to the new homes will be through the Eagle Ridge development; secondary access through an existing gate at Bonfante Gardens is planned for weekday hours, but will be limited during the park’s peak weekend hours.

The horticulturally-themed park currently owes about $70 million to investors, but posted nearly $23 million in losses during its first two seasons of operation, according to financial statements released in September. It did however, post a profit in 2003, and figures for the first three quarters of 2004 indicate another profitable year. Revenues from the home sales are expected to reduce Bonfante Garden’s current debt to a more-manageable $14 million.

To help restructure Bonfante Gardens’ debt, the Gilroy City Council in August unanimously approved the park’s request for 99 housing permits on 33 acres, an exception to the city’s growth-control law. Shapell has shifted 19 units approved previously as part of its Eagle Ridge development to the current proposal.

Gaining quick approval for Shapell’s plans remains critical to sustaining the nonprofit park, since it expects to exhaust its reserve fund in its next round of debt payments, due in May. The park would need revenue from home sales to start coming in by fall in order to make good on the second of its half-year debt payments in November.

The last payment on the bonds totaled more than $1 million.

If the Planning Commission approves the Shapell proposal, it will go before City Council for final approval by April.

What:

Gilroy Planning Commission

When:

Thursday, 6pm

Where:

City Hall Council Chambers, 7351 Rosanna St.

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