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Garden Street development returns 

With the advent of a new year, another large development that will change the look of downtown San Luis Obispo is moving toward eventual construction. Garden Street Terraces, a commercial development, is slowly edging toward what many city-hall observers believe is its inevitable approval. The development, to be located between Broad Street, Garden Street, Marsh Street, and Garden Alley, will tower over all other buildings in the area.

The project’s final environmental impact report was presented to the city planning commission Jan. 20, and the project will be working through the maze of city commissions through the first half of the year. The project’s website reports an anticipated approval by the City Council by June and construction beginning in the summer of 2011.

The project would have some serious environmental impacts: The staff report says the aesthetics of the street, air and noise quality, and cultural resources—there’s potential to impact human burials—will be affected. If the project is approved, some designated historical buildings will be demolished, though their outer facades will be retained. A city parking lot will be eliminated and replaced with 147 spaces. Only 62 of the spaces would be designated for public use.

The development has been in the works for years. It was last presented to the city in 2008 when it was a much larger project, originally designed to stretch 75 feet high.

Hamish Marshal, the developer, agreed to make changes; the project lost its top floor and will now be built around the Verizon building at 742 Marsh St. The owner of the Verizon building wouldn’t sell his property to the developer.

The top floor will now hit 51 feet with an elevator shaft rising to 74 feet high. The final environmental impact report describes the project as a 212,607-square-foot, five-story, mixed-use project. It will include a 95-room hotel, commercial retail space with a market, and 34 condominiums.

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