A 177-apartment unit development is being proposed in Belmont at the former Belmont Iceland property at 815 Old County Road and is under city review.
The proposal from Carmel Partners is five stories and will be 240,000 square feet. Of the 177 units, 27 are designated as affordable. An underground parking garage will hold 200 cars.
Belmont Iceland occupied the site for nearly 60 years before going out of business in 2016, despite calls from the ice skating community to save it or move it elsewhere given the lack of ice skating rinks available on the Peninsula. Lafayette-based Branaugh Development secured a permit to demolish the former rink in 2019, and the property has been vacant since.
Vice Mayor Julia Mates noted the decision for approval rests with the Planning Commission and not the City Council, but she supported housing development along the transit corridor to meet the city’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA, and to address the lack of housing for people who work in the city. She believes Old County Road could use revitalization through new housing development.
“We were hoping for projects just like this,” Mates said.
Carmel Partners is a national housing developer with an office in the Bay Area. It submitted a project application to the city last June. The city is reviewing the application and has scheduled a June 1 Planning Commission meeting to discuss the project.
Community Director Carlos de Melo said the affordable housing units would be the same size and scale as the market-rate units.
Carmel Partners is touting the apartment complex as providing a more livable and walkable core near transit with public benefits in jobs, housing, economic fees to the city, job creation and encouraging better energy sustainability and transportation. Carmel Partners said more than $24 million of a one-time tax and fee benefit would go to Belmont and the region, while more than $1.5 million is projected annually in local tax benefit after construction completion.
Carmel Partners said the project would also seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, or LEED, to reduce the environmental footprint. LEED is a green building rating system used globally to ensure construction meets environmental standards. The project will also encourage walking and biking to the nearby Belmont Caltrain station, just a few minutes from the site.
Around 15,600 cubic yards will be graded for construction for a parking garage, landscaping, drainage and water treatment facilities and other site improvements.
The proposed project would start construction late in the fall if approved, with plans to have people move into the apartments in spring 2023, according to the Carmel Partners project page.
The proposed housing site is within the Belmont Village Specific Plan, adopted in 2017 by the city to create a mixed-use downtown centered around the Belmont Caltrain station. The Belmont Village was designated a priority development area for potential future growth because of its proximity to transit.
Mayor Charles Stone said he is generally supportive of densifying the transit corridor, especially near the Caltrain station. Due to state laws, Stone said many housing development proposals no longer require council approval and only need Planning Commission approval. Despite this, his preference is that projects of this size and scope are still heard at a council meeting for the public’s benefit.
“I’m keeping an open mind to all projects that come before the council, but I’m always encouraged to see transit projects along the transit corridor,” Stone said.
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