A plan to build a massive multiuse building in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo is gaining steam and construction appears likely.
City Council officials voted 3-1 on April 17 to start taking bids for firms to conduct an environmental impact report, to be paid for by the developer. Board member Paul Brown abstained from voting because his business, Mother's Tavern, is in the vicinity of the project.
The project location encompasses 1.2 acres on Marsh Street between Broad Street, Garden Street, and Garden Alley, and includes the city parking lot behind Downtown Brewing Company.
The concept includes a mix of uses within a five-story building, including a 70-room hotel with restaurant and cafe, 25,000 square feet of commercial retail space, 50 residential units, and 162 parking spaces.
According to a press release, the project will retain the Downtown Brewing Company building, as well as the facades of the Christian Science Reading Room and Traditions buildings.
The cost of the project is estimated to be $50 million to $60 million, said project owner Hamish Marshall, president of WestPac Development.
"The reason why we started out on this project was to anchor the center of town, because the vibrancy of the town is moving north," Marshall said. "This particular project will bring a lot of vitality to the core of San Luis Obispo."
Speakers at the meeting voiced concern about the project creating parking problems and altering downtown's ambiance.
"People in general are scared of change," Marshall said. "You can't have a small town sit stagnant. It has to grow and it has to grow with the times and that's what this project is meant to do."
The residential portion of project features condominiums ranging from 650 to 1,500 square feet.
San Luis Obispo Mayor Dave Romero said the goal of this project is to create a thriving hotel downtown and add additional downtown housing, which, according to him, will make it a more attractive community in the future.
Councilwoman Christine Mulholland, who voted against the approval, said, "I am among the many people in this town that think that two and three stories is just fine. We have a rare and unique gift in our downtown something that other cities try to emulate. I think that the community is doing itself a great disservice by going to six and seven stories downtown. I definitely believe in change, but I don't equate change with growth."