Planning reviews Carillion Blvd. rental, retail | News

The Galt Planning Commission held a study session on a proposed rental housing and commercial development on Carillion Boulevard and Walnut Avenue. Asking questions of the developer and city staff at the regular meeting on February 10, some commissioners expressed concerns, but they seemed generally supportive of the end of the session.

As a first matter, the commissioners elected their new officers. Commissioner Dan Denier was selected as Chair and Commissioner Jeff Hood was selected as Vice-Chair.

The development, proposed by Fairfield Residential, would fill the 15.6 acres of vacant land at the northwest corner of the Carillion-Walnut intersection. It would include 172 market-priced townhouse-style rental units and 19,266 square feet of retail space.

Each townhouse would have two to three bedrooms and a two-car garage. A specific price range was not discussed at the meeting, but at an open house in November, a representative from Fairfield estimated that the two-bedroom units would go on the market for $2,600 per month. and three-bedroom units for $2,800 per month.

There would be one entry on Carillion and two on Walnut. All would allow right turns inside and out, and one of the Carillion lanes is being considered for left turns.

“We know there is a strong demand in Galt for rentals,” Associate Town Planner Kristyn Bitz said. She noted that prior to the 2020 expansion of Trailridge Apartments, the most recent market-rate rental project in Galt was built in the late 1990s.

As for the retail element, city staff highlighted their interest in avoiding businesses such as a gas station.

Economic Development Director Amie Mendes said the plan for Fairfield’s proposal would be to create a “small-scale neighborhood center”.

As a concrete example, she cited a development of commercial spaces and luxury apartments in Ripon. The commercial area, called Ripon Terrazza, includes a small cafe and three restaurants, as well as a grocery store that Mendes likened to Whole Foods on a smaller scale.

“It’s mostly the neighborhood that makes this center work,” Mendes said.

Majority-owned by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Fairfield would build and maintain the development of Carillion. Ed McCoy, Fairfield’s senior vice president, said the company would make sure residents adhere to lease terms, such as not using garages for storage.

Commissioner Keith Jones said he was confident in Fairfield’s commitment to keeping the project going, but asked what would happen if Fairfield sold to another company. McCoy responded that Fairfield had “no problem” working out the terms with city staff to ensure long-term maintenance.

Denier asked how the development would benefit current Galt residents, and McCoy said it would provide more housing options. In particular, McCoy pointed to people who want to sell their homes but stay in the city, as well as young people entering the housing market for the first time.

When Denier asked if the possible price was too high, McCoy said Fairfield was “very confident” that people would want to rent at that rate.

The city’s social media posts about Fairfield’s proposal have generated a lot of interest. Community Development Director Craig Hoffman addressed some of the concerns raised by commenters about schools’ ability to accommodate new students, the impact on water use and the influx of traffic.

Hoffman noted that Galt is very slow growing, increasing its population by less than 1% per year. Additionally, he said, the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District has declining enrollment and room for more students.

Galt uses a relatively small amount, about 4%, of the water drawn from the area’s groundwater basin, Hoffman said.

While acknowledging that the development would increase traffic, Hoffman said the proposed mix of residential and commercial is expected to generate significantly fewer car trips than the original, all-commercial plans for the site.

All the commissioners spoke favorably of the project. Denier noted that he had heard over the years that the plot would become a movie theater or a bowling alley.

“And I think, in many ways, it will suit this place better,” Denier said.

The proposal will return to the committee on March 10.

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