Council Approves Plans to Shape Gilroy

Glen Loma Ranch and Downtown Specific Plan approved
Gilroy – City leaders have signed off on two landmark plans, one designed to breath new life into Gilroy’s historic core and another that will shape the future of hundreds untouched acres.

On Monday, city council approved a development agreement with major benefits for the city and developers of Glen Loma Ranch, a 360-acre project that over the next decade will bring 1,700 new homes to the city’s southwest quadrant.

They also approved the Downtown Specific Plan, which will govern development along the Monterey Street corridor in the city’s historic business district, and extended a policy that saves developers hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to stoke the momentum of downtown redevelopment.

Community Development Director Wendie Rooney described the Glen Loma agreement as a “huge win-win.” The contract between City Hall and Glen Loma, which supplements the city’s baseline approvals of the project, gives the developers greater flexibility on the timetable for construction, as well as on design guidelines governing the style of homes.

In exchange, the developers have agreed to build a multimillion fire station free of charge to the city and to install parks before the majority of homes go up. Residents in other areas of the city have complained about moving into neighborhoods with children who grow up and move out long before a park is installed.

The development agreement also calls for the creation of a 10th Street bridge spanning Uvas Creek within the next five years. That provision was included at the request of city council members, who worried about the lack of access to the southwest quadrant if the bridge were not to be built for more than another decade, as current city plans envision.

City leaders also signed off on the Downtown Specific Plan, a document two-and-a-half years in the making that envisions a new downtown that blends new homes, retail and office spaces – in many cases as part of the same project.

A policy credited for attracting dozens of “mixed-use” and other projects to downtown in the last two years also was extended by councilman eager to preserve the momentum of redevelopment. Specifically, they voted to free developers from any fees normally associated with new construction through Dec. 31, 2006. The “fee-waiver” program, as it is known, applies to the downtown corridor and buildings outside of it that are deemed earthquake hazards.

Rooney warned that “the council said they will not be extending it again, so this will be it.”

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