Sunnyvale has greenlit a new vision for the future of the Lawrence Caltrain station that will make it more convenient for residents and workers along the transit corridor.
The Sunnyvale City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted, with Councilmember Alysa Cisneros absent, to approve plans to develop two parcels totaling nearly three acres into a mixed-use project at 1154 and 1170 Sonora Court.
Two single-story industrial buildings on the properties will be demolished and replaced with two mixed-use, seven-story buildings with a combined 280 apartments and more than 200,000 square feet of office space. Once completed, 46 apartments will be designated for affordable housing. Project plans include a public pedestrian access point to the northbound platform of the Caltrain station.
The development team working on the massive project is composed of real estate developer SKS Partners, architecture firm WRNS Studios and GLS, a landscaping and urban design company.
Councilmembers lauded the project’s details, including the novel pedestrian access point with about 400 square feet of retail space near the train platform.
“This is a really attractive project, I’m thrilled to have a project like this going into my district,” Councilmember Richard Mehlinger said at the meeting.
Plans call for the developer to begin work within the next 10 years, after which the city’s approval will expire. Sunnyvale Community Development Department Director Trudi Ryan said a project of this complexity will take time to come together.
“As a mixed-use project, it’s not unusual for us to recommend a 10-year time period for the developers’ agreement,” Ryan said.
Sunnyvale has to build 11,966 homes by 2031, with 6,709 below-market rate, based on the state’s housing requirements. The city has been looking to add more housing near the train station. Sunnyvale’s border with Santa Clara is along Kifer Road, where Santa Clara is also adding homes.
Fluxus CEO Peter Wagner filed a letter with the city worried about traffic congestion on the street and construction disturbing nearby businesses and residents. His offices are located on the same street as the redevelopment.
Councilmember Linda Sell highlighted the letter and pointed out the city’s traffic study, which addressed many of Wagner’s concerns. The traffic study near the development included recommendations to further improve the intersection of Lawrence Expressway and Kifer Road, as well as Lawrence and Reed avenues and Monroe Street.
Councilmembers discussed the city requirements for new developments that are two acres or larger to include public art. Mayor Larry Klein said that while both developments are under two acres, the combined project is nearly three acres.
Alexandra Lee, project manager at SKS Partners, said incorporating art into the development is being considered, and those details will be worked out in the final design plans. Klein and the development team discussed a handful of ways public art could be included, especially through building design modifications, such as having specialized brickwork or art on the building’s metal paneling.
“This is part of (the city’s) vision in making sure that what we end up getting from developers actually creates a community and I think that’s exactly what we’re getting here,” Klein said.