New SLO student housing project fires up residents, will boot a coffee shop

Posted at 11:58 PM, Jul 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-26 02:58:37-04

The dozens of people in attendance at Planning Commissioner’s meeting on Wednesday raised their hand in support during another resident’s testimony against the proposed project.On Wednesday, nearly all protested the student housing project to be built on 790 Foothill Blvd.The four-story mixed-use project would provide 78 residential units with additional space for commercial and retail business. There would be 155 parking spaces with mechanical parking mechanisms. Twelve of the residential units will be available to the public as low-income housingArea residents are concerned and upset by a number of issues the project poses including questions on the added traffic and parking.The project would also spell the end for Blackhorse Coffee as it would be demolished to make way for new building, though developers will face an issue of the lease with the owner.Tom Brown, owner of the four Blackhorse locations in San Luis Obispo, says he has a lease on the location until 2020 with an option to renew for another three years with the current owner of the land.Brown said he has not had contact with the current landlord though the property is in escrow."This development I find quite interesting from the standpoint that the commission is now reviewing a project that there’s a chance that it won’t happen for another five years," Brown said in a phone call from Minnesota.Across the street, another student housing on Chorro is set to open soon which will add to the concerns many residents have."Affordable housing, that’s a joke," said one man. "This is awful. This is luxury student housing," said another.One woman pointed to the anger in the room and the feeling their voice not being heard by the city on several of the projects."I’m surprised we haven’t found ourselves locking ourselves, chained — something just because the anger is intense," she said. "People are angry with a sense that not anybody is listening."For Brown and Blackhorse, it will be business as usual."We’re just going to stay here, keep doing our thing and take care of our people," he said. "We’re going to be a neighborhood coffee shop and we’re going to be in that neighborhood as long as possible."Project developer Loren Riehl with LR Development Group declined to speak on camera but said the project meets all city standards and requirements and will be a great addition for San Luis Obispo.The issue will now need to be approved by City Council.