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Alma Plaza Rises from the Dead Next Month - Like a Zombie

Alma Plaza has been a wasteland for years since Albertson's closed in 2005. New retail buildings and many townhouses have been completed with home sales already happening, but the development is ugly, with too much housing, too little retail.and pa

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
site.

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
streets.  Pity.

Phil Smaller September 06, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I agree with Bob , the project was ill conceived and poorly executed. Who bears the responsibility for this monster? What empty-nester is going to walk up three flights? What house full of kids is going to want to be confined to 150 sq ft of bedroom? I predict the sales office will be around for a long time.
Ruth Endsley September 06, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I also agree it is a monstrosity, soon to be followed by another monstrosity on San Antonio and El Camino Real (former site of Sears). How much ugly housing can you throw up on any available space before the cars that go with the housing cause total gridlock?
sister madly September 06, 2012 at 06:54 PM
whine whine whine, nimbies...high density housing is where it's at these days, so get over it. the intent is to get people out of their cars and onto mass transit...as for no yards, YAY! lawns are expensive luxuries that wreak havoc on the environment (ie crown of thorn starfish in the great barrier reef and toxic algae blooms). gotta do something with all the people here...as for "zombie like" can't we quit using THAT meme already, sigh.
Concerned Citizen November 09, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I drive by this horrible place every day. I agree that the building looks horrible, almost seems like you are looking at a solid concrete block. The stoplight that has gone up in that intersection now causes traffic where none should exist and did not previously exist. There is another stoplight a block down the road and so the city should at least time those lights a bit better to alleviate the congestion that now builds up. Horrible city planning.

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