No Big Boxes Here
Seaside’s two new retail developments tout plazas and pedestrians.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
The architectural plans projected up on the screen were admittedly preliminary. But Seaside City Councilman Darryl Choates already recognized the type of retail development he doesn’t want to see at the Seaside Main Gate Shopping Center, a 54-acre retail site that’s still in early planning stages.
“I like the top corner of the plans,” said Choates, speaking to the Main Gate’s developers at last week’s City Council/Redevelopment Agency meeting. “But the rest of it looks like Marina’s big-box retail plan.”
The top portion of the map Choates referred to contained smaller shops, pedestrian-only streets and a plaza-like gathering place. The rest of it appeared to be large stores flanked by parking lots on one side.
Choates’ comments are indicative of what the Seaside City Council wants—and doesn’t want—at two prime shopping locations now being planned. Namely, city officials don’t want to see a run-of-the-mill strip-mall or big-box developments spring up in Seaside.
Apparently, the developers of the Main Gate Shopping Center are of the same mind.
“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” says Rod Bannon, an architect with General Growth Properties, the company that is developing the Main Gate project along with Clark Realty Capital. On April 6, Bannon and his colleagues presented the City Council with preliminary architectural plans with pedestrian-only access streets. The project is slated to be built next to the former Fort Ord’s Main Gate entrance, off Highway 1.
Plans depict a center surrounded by parking spaces, and shops divided on either side of a single street accessible to cars running down the middle. That lone car-lane, however, was enough to draw a stern comment from Councilman Tom Mancini, who made it clear to planners that the shopping center’s interior should be accessible only to pedestrians.
Lou Dellangelo, Seaside’s community development director, says the Main Gate will have “more of a downtown feel with a theater and specialty shops.
“It’s probably closer to the Del Monte Shopping Center [than any other development on the Peninsula],” Dellangelo added.
While the Main Gate Shopping Center is still in its early stages, Seaside’s other big development—the City Center—is moving full-speed ahead. In May, construction crews will break ground at the site, currently empty lots at the corner of Fremont Boulevard and Broadway Avenue.
Last week, the City’s Board of Architectural Review gave its stamp of approval to the City Center’s architectural plans. Instead of a typical strip mall, Orosco and Associates, a Monterey-based company, will build a plaza at the corner section of the four-acre site in Seaside. Each building, which will house restaurants, cafés and other small and medium-size tenants, will have a unique environmental façade, while a parking lot will sit in the interior of the site.
Bryan Briggs, the City’s redevelopment project manager, says the agency has a number of building permits ready to hand to the developer. But there are still a few crucial hurdles that Orosco and Associates must clear before they can start building.
First, Briggs says, Orosco must pay $1.19 million for the property, plus another $400,000 that will be used for public improvements to the site (such as installing new sidewalks). And the City Council (through Seaside City Manager Ray Corpuz) must sign off on at least 60 percent of the tenants.
“That [requirement] is not typical for a project of this type,” Briggs says. “But it’s been imposed because of the importance of this project, because it’s the heart of our downtown.”