Mixed-Use Development Structure Proposed for Pacific Avenue

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A mixed-use development structure proposed to be built in downtown could be the second tallest building constructed in Santa Cruz, if it’s met with approval by the city.   

The development calls for a 6.5 story building between 53 and 82 feet tall that incorporates commercial use on the first floor and residential use on upper floors. It would begin on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Laurel Street, the current location of Taco Bell, and end at the multi-tenant building adjacent to Pipeline and Project Purr.

Owen Lawlor, project partner of Lawlor Land Use Development Company, proposed the development about two weeks ago.

“The project goals are to both provide housing and extend the urban fabric from upper Pacific to Lower Pacific and to the river levee,” Lawlor said.

The proposed structure will include over 7,000 square feet of commercial ground floor space and 54 studios, 94 one-bedroom units and 57 two-bedroom units — a combined total of 205 housing units at market rate, Lawlor said.

Currently, the rental price for St. George Residences, a complex located on Front Street in Downtown Santa Cruz, is $1,300 for a 231-square-foot apartment. The average size of a studio in the U.S. is typically 500-600 square feet, according to SFGate.

Although this proposed development will only contain market rate housing, Lawlor and his team are proposing an “affordable housing” structure right next to the building, as mandated by Measure O. Because the affordable housing structure proposal is dependent on the mixed-use development project, the size, price and exact location is yet to be established.

Measure O orders developers of residential projects in Santa Cruz to make a certain percentage of their units affordable to moderate-, low- and very low-income households.

Approval of the mixed-use structure requires two public hearings and a recommendation by the city planning commission, as well as a final vote by City Council. On May 7, a 30-day review process began checking for completion of the proposal. Once approved it will be sent for a public hearing date, said Samantha Haschert, senior planner at the Santa Cruz Department of  Planning and Community Development.

The buildings that house Project Purr, Pipeline, as well as Taco Bell, will be demolished if the structure is approved. Other structures in the area that will be demolished are unknown. The businesses would need to relocate if they desired to continue operating, Lawlor said.

If approved, Lawlor Land Use Development Company will work with City Council to develop a construction plan for the complex.