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Downtown Specific Plan Amendment

The City retained Ascent Environmental, Inc. in 2018 to help update the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP). The purpose of the update is to reflect changes in the retail market (with the rise of internet shopping) and consider allowing more jobs and housing near the Sunnyvale Caltrain Station.

Current CityLine construction project

Contact

Michelle King, Principal Planner, 408-730-7463

Progress

The public hearing process for the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Amendment began in July 2020 and ended in August 2020. The City began amendments to the DSP in 2018 to address three potential developments and took the opportunity to revise the plan. The City Council approved the DSP amendments, Municipal Code changes, Environmental Review and two Development Agreements on Aug. 11, 2020. See Documents and Background tabs for additional information and reports.

City Council-Approved Changes

Downtown Specific Plan (11 MB PDF) - Adopted and effective Aug. 11, 2020

Municipal Code Changes (PDF download) - Effective Sept. 25, 2020

Zoning Map Changes (PDF download) - Effective Sept. 25, 2020

Development Agreement - STC/CityLine (PDF download) - Effective Sept. 25, 2020

Development Agreement - Kasik (PDF download) (6 MB PDF) - Effective Sept. 25, 2020

Details

Future Development Applications

Currently there are three developers with pending applications for five sites within the Downtown Specific Plan area. Their review is dependent on approval of the DSP amendment.

The largest proposal is from CityLine with three of the five sites. They are:

Block 18, Sub-block 1 located at 300 South Mathilda Ave. (at the corner of West McKinley Avenue). This project would construct a five-story office building with a combination of surface and underground parking on the existing vacant lot.

Block 18, Sub-block 2 located at 300 W. Washington Ave. This project would add an additional unit to an existing building.

Block 18, Sub-block 3, includes the site of the former Macy's building and the area around the historic redwood trees. The development of this site would include two seven-story office buildings and two ten-story residential buildings. The total project is 400 units with ground-floor retail and restaurants around a future plaza that retains the existing redwood trees, and includes underground parking.

Block 18, Sub-block 6 consists of the existing surface parking lot south of West Washington Avenue between Sunnyvale and Murphy Avenues. The development of this site would involve the construction of 392 residential units with ground floor retail or restaurant uses and would include underground parking.

The other two development applications are:

Located at 100 Altair Way, this project would replace the existing three-story mixed use residential building and downtown post office with a seven-story office building with underground parking.

Located at 111 W. Evelyn, this project would replace the existing parking lot at the corner of Sunnyvale Avenue and W. Evelyn Avenue with a four-story office building with underground parking.

Documents

Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Versions

Draft Downtown Specific Plan (Current Version) - July 2020 (8 MB PDF)

Draft Downtown Specific Plan (Markup Version) - July 2020 (10 MB PDF)

Draft Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) - Nov. 2019 (9 MB PDF)

Staff Reports

City Council - Aug. 11

Planning Commission - July 27

Heritage Preservation Commission - July 22

Sustainability Commission - July 20

Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission - July 16

Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) Documents

DSP FEIR (9 MB PDF)

DSP Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP)

Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) Documents

DSP DEIR (11 MB PDF)

DSP DEIR Notice of Availability

DSP DEIR Appendix A Notice of Preparation and Reponses

DSP DEIR Appendix C Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Assessment (10 MB PDF)

DSP DEIR Appendix D Arborist Reports

DSP DEIR Appendix E Historic Resource Evaluation

DSP DEIR Appendix F Geotechnical Feasibility Study

DSP DEIR Appendix G Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (36 MB PDF)

DSP DEIR Appendix H1 Noise and Vibration Assessment

DSP DEIR Appendix H2 Land Use Update Memo

DSP DEIR Appendix I Transportation Impact Analysis (21 MB PDF)

DSP DEIR Appendix J1 Utility Impact Study

DSP DEIR Appendix J2 Water Supply Assessment

Background

The City first adopted the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) in 2003 to guide future development in the heart of Sunnyvale. The goal of the DSP is to create an enhanced downtown that continues to be the heart of the community, providing a variety of destinations in a pedestrian-friendly environment. Since the DSP's adoption in 2003, the area changed from a downtown shopping mall to a vibrant mixed-use environment with places for people to live, work, and visit.

In 2015 and 2017, three property owners approached the City with requests to allow for more development on several sites near the Sunnyvale Caltrain Station. The City Council allowed the property owners to submit applications. At the same time, the City Council recognized that these projects would require amendments to the DSP and authorized hiring an outside firm to help evaluate and update the DSP. The City hired Ascent Environmental, Inc., the selected firm, in 2018.

Summary of Proposed DSP Update

The proposed updated plan keeps the Vision for Downtown (adopted in 2003) as "An enhanced traditional downtown serving the community with a variety of destinations in a pedestrian-friendly environment." The update:

  • Acknowledges the changing retail environment
  • Includes flexibility for increased density through incentive programs or Community Benefits 
  • Strengthens the design guidelines
  • Provides guidance to enhance the pedestrian experience and include more wayfinding such as signs, gateways and other icons

To create consistency with the DSP amendments, the City Council also approved Municipal Code text changes and a Zoning Map change. In addition, the City Council approved two Development Agreements (for two of the three developments). An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was prepared for the proposed DSP amendments and all three development proposals and the City Council approved the Final EIR.

Downtown Parking District Study

The City Council also considered study findings and recommendations on the Downtown Parking District (2016 Council Study Issue - CDD 11-02 [PDF download] - Downtown Development Policies for Parking). The Study found that there is currently an overall surplus of parking that will continue in the foreseeable future. The Study recommended a series of near-term, mid-term and long-term actions to improve management of the parking district and support a successful and vibrant Downtown. Staff will return to the City Council with short-term recommendations.

Development Agreements

The City Council approved two separate Development Agreements for two sites within the DSP - STC Venture and Kasik. A Development Agreement is a tool used by cities to guarantee development approvals to the landowner and to provide additional benefits to both the City and a developer that are otherwise not available. The approved DSP amendments enable additional housing units, additional square footage of offices uses, and greater building height based on development incentive programs or a Development Agreement.

STC Venture (also known as CityLine) - The first site is most of the area commonly known as CityLine which are the Downtown blocks bound by Iowa, Washington, Sunnyvale and Mathilda avenues.

The Development Agreement includes these benefits to the City:

  • $10.6M contribution to the Community Benefit Fund
  • Housing affordable to Very Low, Low, Moderate and above Moderate income households
  • All electric appliances in the residential units
  • A publicly accessible (and privately built and maintained) park space
  • Public parking for downtown visitors

Benefits for STC Venture include the right to:

  • Additional housing (up to 793 residential units)
  • Additional office (up to 653,000 square feet)
  • Taller buildings (5 to 7 stories for office and 6 to twelve stories for residential buildings)
  • A 30-month freeze on impact fee amounts

Kasik (developer is Minkoff Group) - The second site is located on Altair Way between Taaffe Street and Aries Way. The site includes the former post office.

The Development Agreement includes these benefits to the City:

  • $3M contribution to the Community Benefit Fund
  • Off-site street improvements between the project site and Plaza del Sol
  • All electric building

Benefits for Kasik/Minkoff Group include:

  • Additional office (up to 141,333 square feet)
  • Additional height (7 stories, up to 125 feet)
Last Updated: Sep 28, 2020
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