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Report says developer to pay $11.7M
September 04, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

Developers of the San Carlos Transit Village, a proposed mix of luxury units and retail space around the train station, will pay the city an estimated $11.7 million in fees if given the green light, according to an economic study of the project.

Of the total fees, $8.5 million would be affordable housing in-lieu fees, $507,000 would go to San Carlos schools and $447,000 to the Sequoia Union High School District.

Developer Legacy Partners Residential could provide 15 percent of the units at below-market rates to sidestep the in-lieu fee but representatives have said that depends on how big a project is potentially approved by the City Council, said Assistant City Manager Brian Moura.

The actual size of the project also determines how much is allotted to schools because the calculation is based on units and square footage, not the number of students.

"The things that happen as you scale back the proposal is that the city gets money instead of affordable housing and less money for schools,” Moura said.

The other non-school fees include $829,705 for building permits, $576,386 to mitigate traffic impacts and $522,000 for park facility development.

The transit village plan is far from a done deal; the Planning Commission recently held a study session on the environmental impact report and must still vote Oct. 1 whether to recommend the document to the City Council. Once the EIR is certified, both bodies can knuckle down on details of the actual proposal.

Currently, the transit village plan would convert a 10.53-acre strip of land within the existing Caltrain station and running parallel to the railroad corridor. Legacy’s proposal envisions eight four-story buildings with 280 housing units among a mix of 407,298 square feet of residential, 23,797 square feet of office space and 14,326 square feet of retail space.

The project, which first came forward in 1998, would include 667 parking spaces and a new SamTrans Transit Center on 4.29 acres. SamTrans, the land’s current owner, would grant the Foster City-based developer a long-term lease for a little more than half the site followed by ownership.

The plan is not without its detractors. The Greater East San Carlos group worries about the impact on its neighborhood through shadows and parking — not to mention when and if high-speed rail begins — although a new alternative was recently added to lower heights on most buildings north of Holly Street, break up the massing between two building and create towers immediately north and south of Holly Street to accent the gateway.

Although the final product is still a long way off, the fiscal impact analysis generated for Legacy Partners and discussed by the city’s Economic Development Advisory Commission at its last meeting provides a peek into what — aside from the physical project itself — the development would provide to the city financially. There may also be other project-related financial terms drawn up later but nothing has yet to be put forward.

The report also notes that the city would spend an estimated $162,925 annually from the general fund on police, parks, public works, fire and other government services. More than half the cost — nearly 60 percent — is for police services.

Aside from the one-time developer fees, the report concludes the project would be an ongoing financial benefit for the city of San Carlos both in the domino effect to other businesses and in approximately $150,000 of annual revenue after expenses.

However, the report cautions, the 20-year forecast of the project’s fiscal impacts assumes financial factors will remain constant, particularly as the timeline doesn’t even start until 2015-16. The two-decade span is "an extensive amount of time” to expect stability, the report states, and includes factors outside local control like regional or national economy, natural disasters or legal and policy decisions.

Michelle Durand can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

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