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SLO approves a new Garden Street Terraces project design 

The San Luis Obispo City Council approved the final design of the Garden Street Terraces mixed-use downtown project—again.

On a 3-1-1 vote, with Councilwoman Kathy Smith dissenting and Councilman Dan Carpenter recused from the final vote, city councilmembers approved a redesign of the project and a new financial agreement between the city and Garden Street SLO Partners. The city first approved the final design in November 2011, about six years after a proposal was first made to build a mix of hotel, retail, and residential units downtown. Since then, the project has changed in scope, shrinking by about 5,000 square feet, with a reduction in parking from 74 private spaces to 41 private spaces, and an increase in hotel rooms from 48 to 64. Most significantly, the project will now leave intact a number of existing retail spaces at the corner of Marsh and Broad streets.

Additionally, city staffers and the developers reworked the Memorandum of Agreement and reduced a city loan to the applicant from $2.4 million to $500,000, eliminating a requirement that the applicant pay $1.86 million to replace lost on-site parking currently available on Broad Street between Higuera and Marsh, and altering the city’s involvement in sharing hotel room rent, among other modifications.

“This project has gone on for so long … that it’s now taken a different face and different phases to get done,” said project developer Hamish Marshall.

Councilmembers added some additional stipulations, including a requirement that hotel valet parking not be allowed on public streets and overflow parking be accommodated elsewhere, and that the residential units could not be later converted into additional hotel rooms.

Councilwoman Kathy Smith, who voted against the most recent design—as well as the design approved in 2011—said she was particularly concerned with the lack of parking.

“It seemed to me like we started with a mixed-use project and we’re getting a hotel,” she said.

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