We have been fortunate to have been involved with some large visionary Specific Plans. A Specific Plan is where an entire area of a city or town gets designed at once. The Specific Plan is a zoning term for what is commonly called a Master Planned Community for residential projects.
With these projects, sometimes the vision promised in the Plan bumps into the realities of getting the project built.
The Specific Plan envisioned an area dedicated to Transit Oriented uses. The reality required a wide range of uses to be wedged onto a too small, odd-shaped .6 acre site, including parking, car rental, bus stops and ticketing, and a critically important use of historic elements from around the site.
Enlarging the site or relocating it would require reducing the amount of high density housing and/or retail allowed on the project and needed by the city.
Our solution was to create a Transit Center Overlay zone, allowing a larger area to accommodate all of the required transit elements, while integrating the uses into a mixed use community with direct access to transit. So now where there once was a too-small parking lot, the parking can be integrated into a structure with the adjacent apartments, and the lot can become a pedestrian plaza with access to outdoor dining, bus ticket kiosks and historical elements sprinkled throughout the area. The vision for the Specific Plan not only remains, but is enhanced.
To create the TCO required us to author and process a Specific Plan Amendment through the City. We worked closely with the City, the project Ownership and their consultants to shepherd the project through the process. This week, the City Council unanimously approved the Specific Plan Amendment.