Alma Plaza Rises From The Dead Next Month – Like a Zombie
The last businesses on the site were forced out five years ago, and Alma Plaza was a vacant eyesore ever since. Construction of the retail buildings began in April 2011. Next month the new Farm Fresh Market plans to open in the grocery building at Alma Plaza, three months behind schedule. Concurrently many of the 37 townhouses will be sold and
occupied. The PC approval required that the grocer be ready to open before any of the homes can be sold. Unfortunately the new project only
replaces a vacant eyesore with an occupied eyesore.
The retail buildings almost abut the street, unlike every other building along Alma. Drivers leaving the site using the main entry between the two commercial buildings have poor vision of traffic on Alma. A new stoplight
installed at this entry may reduce traffic conflicts, but is unlikely to
eliminate them. This stoplight a few hundred feet from the Meadow
stoplight will worsen traffic flow on Alma. The long wall of the grocery building already has generated many objections about the bulk and
unfriendly appearance of the building, a bulk that continues onto the
Last month the housing developer D. R. Horton opened three model homes of the Elevation townhouse part of the project. They reported over 600 inquiries about the housing, so they initiated bidding for the townhouses which are listed at $1,594,100, four bedrooms, to $1,673,795, five bedrooms. I went to the open house August 18 and toured the three models. I was not impressed. All are three stories with almost no outdoor seating or yard space. One model has a first floor that only contains a bedroom and bath with living room and kitchen on the second floor and master plus two other bedrooms on the third floor. Another model has the entry directly into the kitchen with the living and dining area to the side. The third model has a fourth bedroom and optional fifth bedroom on the third floor, with three bedrooms on the second floor.
Supposedly these townhouses will attract empty nesters and young families working locally who dislike gardening and yard care, and want to
replicate the small lots, high density, and minimal parking of San Francisco while eliminating the commuting from there. I doubt that many
empty nesters are interested in three story homes with so many bedrooms and almost no outdoor space. I certainly wouldn’t consider living in these townhomes. Do young workers or families need townhouses with four or five bedrooms or four bedrooms and an office? If there really were hundreds of interested visitors with many willing to bid suggests there is a market for them.
The new face of Alma Plaza is a vast change from neighborhood shopping center to high density housing with less than half the retail space, narrow streets, and inadequate parking. Our private street initiative changing minimum private street width from 20 to 32 feet was approved.
Unfortunately even though construction at Alma Plaza didn’t start until
after the new requirements went into effect, because it is a PC our lawyer
warned the developer could claim vested rights to keep the narrow