A development that would add a Chick-fil-A chain restaurant, Gilroy’s eighth Starbucks location, a hotel and other businesses received the planning commission’s recommendation on Sept. 2.
Laurel Square, a proposal located at the corner of East Tenth and Chestnut streets, will now head to the city council for approval at a later meeting.
Evergreen Development Company is working to bring the project to a nearly seven-acre property that currently houses the Chestnut Square shopping center, built in the late 1970s. Businesses on site include O’Henry’s Donuts, Gilroy Market, Coast Auto Insurance and others, as well as Trans Valley Transport behind the center.
Alex Gonzalez, director of development for Evergreen, said the project has been in the works for about three years. The businesses on site have been operating on month-to-month leases in anticipation of the future construction, he noted.
The proposal outlines six business pads on the property. A gas station and convenience store is located at the corner of 10th and Chestnut streets. Three drive-thru restaurant buildings are also in the plans, with Chick-fil-A and Starbucks being two of the confirmed tenants.
A car wash operated by BlueWave and a five-story, 120-room Hyatt hotel are the other tenants. Rogg Collins of Evergreen said the company is currently negotiating with an “upscale hamburger establishment” for the third and final restaurant pad.
Gonzalez said the company anticipates beginning construction in early 2022, pending city council approval.
“The property is phenomenal,” he said. “It’s right next to the freeway, and it’s hard to find property that is conducive to a commercial development like this one.”
The planning commission was unanimous in voicing its support of the project. But Commissioner Andrew Ridley suggested the developer incorporate more bicycle parking racks and lockers on the recommendation of Patrick Flautt of the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission.
“We want to encourage that mode of travel,” he said. “It’s hard to encourage it when there’s nowhere to put your bike.”
Commissioner John Doyle questioned the need for more bicycle parking, adding that he hasn’t seen a demand for it in other local developments.
“I’m not sure there’s much point in pushing the developer to add parking or lockers that would serve no purpose,” he said.
A motion by Ridley to add more bicycle parking, as well as eliminating landscaping that requires a “medium” water use, was rejected due to a lack of affirmative votes.
Ridley also urged the developer to come up with a name for the development “with a little more energy behind it,” echoing comments the city received from an environmental report that circulated in July.
Gonzalez said the name refers to a plant that is native to Gilroy.
“We haven’t baptized the project yet,” he said. “If you have better ideas, we welcome them and we’ll consider them.”