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Another new development planned along Foothill Blvd. in SLO

Posted at 7:17 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-02 22:17:58-04

A new development with housing and retail space is planned along Foothill Boulevard in San Luis Obispo.

Some may recognize the site, located at 790 Foothill. It was a McDonald’s restaurant for 40 years.

Michelle Israel, who has lived in San Luis Obispo since 1984, has seen the gradual growth of the Foothill corridor firsthand.

"The traffic just feels a little bit worse," Israel said. "The lines feel longer at the grocery store. We’ve lived in our home for 30 years. Our home is one of the oldest in the area. We had little pieces of orchard around us when we first moved in and it’s fully developed now."

More change is on the way as plans for a four-story mixed-use development are in the planning pipeline.

"There’s a total of 78 units with 12 of them being rent restricted for very low-income households and the total retail square footage is about 7,000 square feet," said Loren Riehl, LR Development Group.

The multi-family units will be above the retail space.

"The reason we selected it is because it’s already been designated by the city as a location that’s appropriate for this type of development and so we tried to or we are putting it where it is consistent with what the city wants," Riehl explained. "It will bring more retail to that area, creating a more vibrant commercial zone and then it will also bring housing to that area and housing is in great need, not only throughout the city but specifically in that area."

Some long-time residents welcome the new development with an open mind.

"Change is the only constant in the universe so we might as well accept it," said Josephine Laing, who has lived in San Luis Obispo since 1987. "I always think that having housing in downtown areas really keeps the quality of the downtown area up so it looks nice. People take pride in their homes so when there’s housing included with retail space, it’s always a benefit."

Others have some concerns.

"The only reaction I have is for the parking," said Dorothy Adams, who has lived in the same house off Foothill Blvd. since the 1960s. "If you notice, I only have a little section there because I can never park in front of my home."

The developer says there will be 155 parking spots, plus 181 bicycle parking spaces.

"What’s happened over the past four years is, as I said, way too much, too fast, with little infrastructure improvements," explained Kathy Borland of the newly formed group Preserve the SLO Life. "All you have to do is drive around town at 5 o’clock."

Residents like Israel are thinking, with so much growth, it may be time for a change of address.

"We have great neighbors but yes, it has definitely changed our thinking. We’re thinking about moving somewhere else in the city," Israel added.

The first public hearing on the project is May 7 before the Architectural Review Commission. After that, it will go to the Planning Commission and upon completion of those two hearings, it will go to the city council for a final review and approval.

The developer says the soonest construction could start is 18 to 24 months. It’s expected to last a couple of years.

"We think it’s going to be a great project. We think it’s going to contribute to that area and importantly, it follows the city’s vision and city’s goals that were established via its general plan,  specifically land use and circulation element update, and we’re excited to bring the project," Riehl concluded.

He’s also the developer of two other projects in town. One is located at 71 Palomar Avenue. The other, at 22 Chorro Street.