By Haley Sawyer
A portion of El Centro Street will be looking a lot different in the near future, as the City Council last week voted to approve plans for the Seven Patios residential and commercial project at its March 3 meeting.
“The incremental process has made for a great project,” said Councilman Jon Primuth, who made the motion to approve the project. “I’m really happy the city has reserved certain issues to stay involved both on traffic and on soil. I think that’s really important.”
The Seven Patios project will turn 1.61 acres of land with an existing office building and parking lot into 60 residential units and 6,100 square feet of commercial space for restaurants and retail.
Three townhomes will face Orange Grove Avenue, while space for outdoor dining will face El Centro. The project was designed so that the buildings transition seamlessly into Orange Grove’s single-family neighborhood.
The planned buildings break down into house-scale forms to transition to the appropriate scale, each as craftsman-style bungalows limited to two stories.
Seven Patios is planned to evolve from a commercial block style to a Mediterranean style with an inconspicuous parking garage entrance. In addition to 177 vehicle parking spaces, there are also 18 bicycle parking spaces planned.
The project gets its name from the seven courtyards within the area, each with its own unique characteristics.
“We’ve had design and aesthetic concerns addressed over the course of a number of years, many meetings, and lots of different drawings,” Primuth said.
A public hearing initially scheduled for early in February had been delayed to last week’s meeting, where concerns over traffic patterns and soil contamination were directly addressed.
A traffic impact analysis was completed and showed that the project would not cause traffic implications that would exceed the city’s threshold of significance, according to the staff report.
The project was also reviewed by an environmental consulting firm under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and was proven to have no significant effect on the environment.
The soil in the area that the project is set to be completed in was tested for contaminants. Four different borings ranging from 21 feet-6 inches to 51 feet-6 inches — depths below where the parking structure would exist — across the area were completed and no likelihood of soil contamination was found.
However, if contamination is found in the future, there is a soils management plan that provides protocols in advance of excavation.
Feedback was collected from public hearing as well as several neighborhood meetings attended by Pasadena-based architecture and planning firm Moule and Polyzoides.
“I’m very impressed with the extent of the outreach that the developer did with our community,” said Mayor Diana Mahmud. “It is critically important that if anyone is serious about doing development in this town, that they reach out and they listen to our residents. There were changes that were made pursuant to the recommendation of residents; I think that’s important to note.”