On August 15th a special meeting of the Los Gatos Town Council was held decide whether to extend or expire the moratorium that placed a temporary halt on development of the highly debated North 40 project. Set between Lark Avenue, Los Gatos Boulevard, and highways 17 and 85, the North 40 is the last remaining walnut grove in Los Gatos and the site of the town’s largest and most highly debated redevelopment opportunity that has been in the works for over 30 years.
The moratorium was instituted in August 2017 to enable the Town Council to reevaluate the project parameters and amend the town’s Specific Plan, which establishes the rules and guidelines around the North 40 project’s development. The cessation was the result of the project’s developer, Grosvenor America’s, successful lawsuit against Los Gatos after the town denied the developer’s Phase 1 design and the Town Council’s concern that new developer applications would be submitted for the remaining 20+ acres that constitutes Phase 2. By initiating a freeze on development, the Council created an opportunity to amend the Specific Plan, which it would be unable to do if new development submissions were in the North 40 project queue.
The town’s Specific Plan outlines regulations of such items as building heights, residential restrictions, required conditional permits, and allowable commercial square footage. The thinking behind the forced pause was to be able to address Los Gatos residents’ concerns about the project as well as mitigating guidelines that resulted in the rejection of Grosvenor’s Phase 1 plan design. But, with a week until the moratorium was due to expire, no significant changes or updates to the Specific Plan had been made and the Council couldn’t justify any additional extensions to the halt on proposed North 40 development.
Phase 1 of the North 40 project includes 320 homes and over 66,000 square feet of commercial space on 21 of the 40 acres. Grosvenor has proposed a Phase 2 with a town square, hotel, and 294 homes on 15.5 acres and between 332,000 and 367,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. The original plan proposed only 33 homes and 367,000 square feet of combined hotel, office, and commercial space. The revised plan reflects resident’s inputs while still striving for a mixed-use development. The decision on whether to include a hotel remains a much-debated topic as does the issue of adequate senior and affordable housing.
Many of those involved with the North 40 project feel it creates an opportunity to trademark Los Gatos as a hub for technology and innovation. Many others are concerned about the impact it would have on its small town feel, including overburdening of streets, freeways, and schools.
For more a detailed background on the Los Gatos North 40 project, we invite you to read our two previous blogs: