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No summer break for Chinatown project 

The clock is ticking for public review and comments on the Copeland brothers' massive downtown SLO development project known as Chinatown.

July 25 at 5 p.m. is the deadline for written or e-mailed comments on the recently released draft environmental impact report for the project located in what the report terms "the heart of SLO's core." The SLO Planning Commission has already scheduled a public hearing on the environmental report for July 11 at 7 p.m. at the council chambers.

Tom and Jim Copeland's proposal involves demolition and removal of four historic buildings, 13 mature trees, and the city-owned public parking lot covering the block between Palm, Monterey, Morro, and Chorro streets to make way for a five-story 77-room hotel with a private rooftop pool, 59 condominiums, offices, private subterranean parking, and ground-floor retail space for local, chain, and franchise stores. The Muzio's building would be retained, with the second floor becoming a hotel conference room.

The visual impacts of the development up to six stories and 78 feet high are "significant and unavoidable," the report notes. The site's rich archaeological and historical resources would also be impacted, but these impacts can be reduced by, for example, incorporating the historic Shanghai Low Restaurant sign on Palm Street "to retain the visual flavor of Chinatown" and by preserving the antique oven from the former Sauer Bakery building (it recently held a Pier One) on Monterey Street, according to the document.

A series of computer-generated photos is included in the environmental report to indicate some possible visual impacts. The two-volume, 4-inch-thick environmental impact report is available for perusal at the library and the city Community Development Department, on the city's website at (click on community development, then documents on line, then environmental review), and can also be purchased for $25 or $8 for a CD version.


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