Historic Deal With Builder

As part of an agreement that will allow Glen Loma more building
flexibility, the city will get a new fire station and a key
bridge
Gilroy – Local officials and developers of the biggest housing project in Gilroy history are preparing to sign off on a deal that reads like a wish-list come true.

The development agreement between City Hall and the Glen Loma Group, which plans to build 1,700 homes in the city’s southwest quadrant, will shave a decade off the construction schedule for a 10th Street bridge, bring neighborhood parks on line before most homeowners move in and create a $3.7-million fire station at no cost to the city.

The development group representing more than a hundred members of the Filice family also must build an additional 50 units of affordable housing.

In exchange, the city will permit Glen Loma to break ground on hundreds of homes years earlier than expected. The agreement, which officials hope to complete by November, would also allow greater flexibility in housing types as long as changes mesh with the recently approved Neighborhood District Policy. Those guidelines call for mixed neighborhoods with a blend of commercial space, diverse housing and open spaces.

Community Development Director Wendie Rooney, who spent more than two years working on the deal after the Filice family approached the city, said the agreement represents a rare chance to fast-track major projects and save millions of dollars.

“This is the only tool the city has to negotiate improvements that normally would not be required,” she said. Similar agreements with the developers of the Gilroy Crossing and Pacheco Pass shopping centers east of Highway 101 netted the city free fire equipment and a few design improvements.

“We were more at the begging stage at that point,” Rooney said. “Those were minimal compared to this.”

The Glen Loma agreement addresses a traditional source of local complaints by speeding up the development of public parks. In many cases, residents have seen their children grow and leave home before long-promised parks were developed.

Tim Filice, the family representative, said plans call for the creation of two public parks shortly after the first homes go up. A 16-acre public park bordering Uvas Creek, just south of Christmas Hill Park, is scheduled for completion by 2008. The second two-acre public space off Santa Teresa Boulevard will be finished by 2011.

The deal also requires Glen Loma to:

• Construct a 10th Street bridge spanning Uvas Creek by 2011. The city originally planned to build the bridge by 2020, but council members have said they would like to see it installed earlier.

• Build a fourth fire station, modeled on the Sunrise Station in the northwest quadrant, after 1,000 new homes are built.

• Construct 256 units of affordable housing.

The deal also includes benefits for the developers.

Most significantly, it clears the way for Glen Loma to begin construction years earlier than expected on hundreds of homes. Normally, the city’s growth control ordinance allows developers to build homes one year before or one year after the official permit date. Those permits are spread out over a decade in the case of the Glen Loma project. Under the terms of the development agreement, Glen Loma will have a three-year window around the permit date, giving them far greater leeway to shuffle around their construction schedule.

In practical terms, the arrangement means Glen Loma can immediately break ground on 600 homes, rather than 260. Filice said the family has no official plans to advance the timetable, but noted the possibility of earlier start dates for homes in the higher-density area near the future town center, just east of Santa Teresa Boulevard.

While acknowledging the agreement offers significant advantages for the development group, Filice and Rooney said the project “sets the bar high” for future developments.

“This is a big step for the family,” Filice said. “We all grew up on this property. This is a legacy for us. We all thought it deserved something more than a normal subdivision. I think we’ve come up with a design that will make it a very special place to live.”

City Councilman Paul Correa called plans for earlier construction of the bridge and parks a “good gesture.”

“I wish we could have that for every project in town,” he said. “Overall, I have to look at it before I sign off, but it seems we’re going down the right path.”

The Glen Loma project, which will create about 18 neighborhoods on 360 acres, is the result of more than five years of planning. Officials frequently point to the project as a prototype of comprehensive planning.

“In other parts of the city, it’s like pieces of the puzzle come in one at a time,” Rooney said of the normal subdivision process. “With Glen Loma, we already have the puzzle in front of us. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning it.”

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