Proposed Hyatt on Main Street Illustration

This is an artist’s rendering of a proposed hotel on the south end of Half Moon Bay. Plans have changed substantially through the years of preplanning. Illustration courtesy city of Half Moon Bay

Developers for the proposed Hyatt Place hotel at the south end of Main Street unveiled a new alternative concept that could add more than a dozen residential units nearby and scaling back on the hotel’s initial design.

In a joint study session on June 29, Half Moon Bay’s Planning Commission and Architectural Advisory Committee — and the public — got their first look at an updated version of the proposed Hyatt Place project, which is being designed by AXIS/GFA Architecture and Design. The work coincides with, but is not related to, the city’s construction of the intersection at Main Street, Highway 1 and Higgins Canyon Road. No decisions were finalized during the meeting as it was meant for public input and architecture and site review.

“This project has been revised a few times,” said the city’s Senior Planner Doug Garrison. “This was a fairly substantial change. It seemed like a good idea to make sure everybody saw where we were on this.”

Because the site has seasonal wetlands on its western boundary, the project is under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission. The hotel needs to be set back to meet the required 100-foot wetland buffer. The meeting did not cover environmental impact, which the city is still examining in the form of an Environmental Impact Report. The Planning Commission will host public hearings on that report later this summer, which will cover topics like stormwater treatment, traffic, greenhouse gas emissions and noise.

The proposed project encompasses three parcels: the 5-acre triangular undeveloped parcel on Main Street, the 1.45-acre Ford dealership and its 1.25-acre adjacent parking lot. Because of new zoning changes from the city’s updated Local Coastal Land Use Plan, the applicant’s “preferred alternative” now involves reconfiguring the adjacent Ford dealership and parking spaces to make room for residential units.

The plan details that the Ford dealership be expanded by nearly half an acre, mostly in the form of enlarging the parking lot. By moving the dealership’s parking lot from the north side of Seymour Street to the south, it frees up space for residential units in the old parking lot parcel, an area already zoned for residential use. This alternative design entails eight duplex lots that could yield at least 16 residential units. Between four to six of those would be classified as affordable to lower-income households. If accessory dwelling units are installed, that would bring the total to 24 residential units.

Developer Greg Jamison said those affordable units would be a mix of moderate and low income.

“There’s a lot of people over here who have middle incomes but can’t afford to live here,” he said. “So, I think by having a mix of those units you have the ability to provide something for everybody.”

In addition to myriad revisions, the hotel’s floor area has been reduced to 67,000 square feet, down from almost 91,000 square feet. In 2016, it was originally planned to be 113,000 square feet. The room count is down to 102 rooms, a drop from 129 proposed last year. The guest rooms are provided in two buildings, a three-story northern building and a two-story southern building. Most of the guest rooms will be in the northern building while the southern will have a lobby and conference rooms. Plans also include 108 parking spots.

Some of the key issues for the city officials were how stormwater drainage would impact the wetlands and how much the buildings would block views from residents on Main Street. Because the hotel is in the city’s Town Boulevard corridor, commissioners raised concerns over how it could block scenic views of the hills from the highway. Story poles are erected on the property, but not on the dealership’s parking lot, where the proposed duplexes would go.

“I think there’s a reasonable question about how the visual resource of the hillside is protected,” said Commissioner James Benjamin.

Artistic renderings showed the two buildings in “farmhouse modern” style with a mix of dark metal seams and wooden siding. Some commissioners wondered if the hotel was covered too dark compared to the surrounding structures. ACC member Linda Poncini said, while she approved of the hotel’s style, designers should consider a better separation between the two buildings to create a better sense of “movement” and make it feel less like a wall to nearby residents.

“I think the applicant and their architects are on their way,” she said. “They’re going in a good direction in terms of how the materials work together and how it feels. I think some of the massing and roof pitches need to be looked at.”

The hotel would also have both a bike and walking path distanced from the wetland in the open space. The bike trail is supposed to eventually connect to the city’s Eastside Parallel Trail, an ongoing plan to build new paths, according to the city’s Land Use Plan and Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

Commissioner Rick Hernandez, who has been involved with this project since its inception in 2016 said it was important to look at the context of the project since the original concept was proposed. He pointed to how it aligned with the city’s bike plan and updated Land Use Plan by concentrating development in the downtown.

“When I look at this project, it seems to think about all those elements and does a pretty good job at integrating most of them,” Hernandez said. “I think it’s important for us to understand that a great deal of progress has been made.”

August Howell is a staff writer for the Review covering city government and public safety. Previously, he was the Review’s community, arts and sports reporter. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon.

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