Downtown San Leandro’s ‘new frontier’

(San Leandro Boulevard between Davis Street and Williams Street)

Back in February, San Leandro’s City Council approved a far-reaching project near the San Leandro BART station that, when completed, is expected to become the city’s first transit-oriented development.

The project is supposed to bring in 200,000 square feet of commercial space and 700 residential units, 100 of which are slated for affordable housing.

But, so far, few other details have been revealed because the project (now being called San Leandro Crossings) is still in its infant stages — although Luke Sims, the city’s community development director, is already calling the project the “new frontier of downtown San Leandro.”

The developer, Westlake Development Partners, however, decided to pay a visit to the City Council last night. So that means a few more — but still scant — details have been revealed.

Right now, we know that the first phase of the project is expected to entail building a 200-unit, four-story market-rate, mixed-use housing complex where the current east BART parking lot is located. Similarly, a 100-unit, four-story affordable housing complex is expected to be constructed on the west side of the BART station, along with a 325-space parking structure.

We also know the project received a hefty boost from the state (to the tune of $24.7 million in California Proposition 1C funding) to take care of some key infrastructure improvements. (The developer will be looking for more state funding for the affordable housing part of the project as well.)

Of course, council members had their opinions about what could help the project reach its highest potential.

Councilman Michael Gregory suggested the developer look to create an aesthetic vibe on the exterior of the housing units that reflects the “Mayberry” atmosphere of San Leandro. Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak echoed that idea, saying she doesn’t want to see any flat roofs (traditional architecture only). Councilman Bill Stephens said he would like to see both the market-rate and affordable housing portions of the project designed similarly. And Councilman Jim Prola kindly requested the developer build more affordable housing units, if possible.

The next step? The developer will be holding several community workshops between now and Sept. 22. So get ready, because here it comes.