A 4-story building proposed for the heart of downtown Santa Maria has received City Council approval after revisions to boost the number of parking spaces in response to earlier objections.
The mixed-use building, with retail businesses on the first floor and apartments on the upper three levels, is targeted for the northwest corner of West Main Street (Highway 166) and Broadway (Highway 135).
The approval this week came after the City Council in October rejected the proposal, fearing too few parking spaces and suggesting the applicant, Ben Nikfarjam, return with a revised plan.
The proposal for the 0.3-acre site came as the city attempts to revive it’s dying downtown, and marks the first significant proposal in years.
“I love this project. I think that this is exactly what is needed to get downtown started,” Councilman Jack Boysen said. “I love the idea that this is being done with private money.”
“I think it’s a great project,” added Councilman Michael Moats. “I was prepared to vote for it last time, and now it’s even better. I think it will be a great financial success.”
An old gas station building most recently used for a stereo shop sits abandoned on the site.
“We always know what we don’t want. But sometimes we really don’t know what we want unless it is shown to us,” Mayor Alice Patino said. “I think that this is a great first step,”
The original project featuring Spanish Mission-style architecture had only 12 parking spaces, sparking concerns among council members since 38 spaces would have been required based on the number of residential units.
Staff and the applicant noted available parking nearby including at city lots, but the council still balked.
The approved project at 30,660 square feet calls for 27 spaces, achieved by reducing the retail space from 4,100 to 3,300 square feet. The new plan has two rows of parking plus a driving lane.
The top three floors would include 27 one- and two-bedroom apartments, reduced from the 31 units in the original plan.
If the demand exists downtown, the second floor could be converted into office spaces.
“This project is going to stand out as something everybody is going to be proud of,” Nikfarjam said.
The revised plan eased most council members’ concerns, but still spooked Councilman Mike Cordero due to the amount of parking and combination of commercial businesses and residential units.
“It’s not that I don’t want the project. It’s just that it’s difficult to think that far in advance and say that it’s going to work,” Cordero said.
“I don’t share Mr. Cordero’s concern that this might not work out,” Moats said. “I think it’s going to work out beautifully. I’d like to compliment you on the stunning beauty of the building and the setbacks and balconies. I think it will be a great benefit to the city of Santa Maria.”
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.