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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 2:19 am | Fair 45º


4-Story Building Proposed For Key Corner In Downtown Santa Maria

Mixed-use project at Main Street and Broadway gains Planning Commission approval, heading to City Council next month

A concept drawing shows the proposed four-story, mixed-use building proposed for a key corner in downtown Santa Maria. After gaining the Santa Maria Planning Commission’s approval the project heads to the City Council next month.
A concept drawing shows the proposed four-story, mixed-use building proposed for a key corner in downtown Santa Maria. After gaining the Santa Maria Planning Commission’s approval the project heads to the City Council next month. (Contributed photo)

A four-story mixed-use building in the heart of Santa Maria received support of the Planning Commission amid hopes of spurring other similar projects to revive the downtown.

Developer Ben Nikfarjam, who purchased the site in 2016, has proposed the 33,000-square-foot building for the northwest corner of the intersection of Main Street and Broadway.

Planning commissioners voted 4-0 to recommend the City Council grant the permit, with Commissioner Tom Martinez recusing himself due to partial ownership of a nearby building.  

The Downtown Specific Plan, a blueprint for reviving the heart of the city, envisions a pedestrian-friendly core filled with businesses to attract people, much like those in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

“I understand the vision of where we want the downtown to go and I think this meets all those and goals,” Chairman Robert Dickerson added. “It’s a fabulous first step towards a new downtown."

City Principal Planner Neda Zayer said the project marks the first to meet the design standards, including arch windows and arched storefront, since the Downtown Specific Plan’s adoption. 

“We believe that this can be a real catalyst project for the downtown and be an example and a model for future development to occur in the downtown, to model their redevelopment efforts to look like this,” Zayer said. 

The mixed-use building calls for commercial use on the first story, with 31 apartments in the top three floors, Zayer said.

Those would include one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 468 to 990 square feet. However, flexibility would allow addition of some three-bedroom units if needed.

The project includes the flexibility to put office space on the second story, which would reduce the apartment units to 20, Zayer added.

The ground floor has plans for three commercial spaces such as restaurants, officers or other businesses, and an ability to reconfigure those spaces, Zayer told commissioners.

Employing a Spanish Mission-style architecture, some apartments would have usable balconies while others would feature decorative, or Juliet, balconies.

“I think it’s a gorgeous building,” said Commissioner Kelly White-O’Neill.

An existing one-story decrepit building, the former home of Sound of Stereo, will be torn down to make way for the new structure. 

But the project’s 12 parking spaces, fewer than the 38 slots required, raised some concerns among commissioners more used to seeing plenty of parking located near a buildings in projects throughout Santa Maria, Zayer said. 

“Staff does believe, despite the significant reduction of parking, that there will be sufficient parking near the project site to accommodate its needs,” Zayer said. 

Parking sits within walking distance, including at the Santa Maria Town Center West, Town Center East’s parking structure, plus a city-owned public lot at Lincoln Street and Chapel Avenue. On-street parking is available on Main Street, Broadway and other nearby streets. 

Commissioner Tim Seifert was concerned about the limited parking, but noted the project meets the vision of the Downtown Specific Plan. 

“I do like the project, I don’t like the parking,” Seifert added. 

The project needs City Council approval, and the item is expected to be scheduled for an October meeting. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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