Santa Cruz to hold public meeting on mixed-use project for site of Mission Street’s Food Bin & Herb Room

A rendering of the proposed development at Mission and Laurel streets in Santa Cruz where the Food Bin & Herb Room now sit.
(Via City of Santa Cruz)

The 42,849-square-foot development would take over the parcel where local grocery stores The Food Bin and Herb Room currently sit. It is still in the pre-application phase, and the City of Santa Cruz is hosting a community meeting April 18 for residents to learn more about the development, ask questions and raise concerns.

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The City of Santa Cruz will bring a new proposed mixed-use housing project to a virtual community meeting later this month — the first opportunity for the public to comment on the development. The project is proposed for 1130 and 1132 Mission St., where Mission meets Laurel Street. The site is currently home to The Food Bin and Herb Room, two locally owned organic grocery stores.

In total, the proposed development would see the construction of a 42,849-square-foot, five-story building, with 3,403 square feet of ground floor commercial space and 59 single-room-occupancy units on the floors above. The project is led by Santa Cruz-based building company Workbench.

Of the 59 units, the current plan designates eight to be “very low income” units. However, that would make just 13% of the total units in the project affordable; another four affordable units would be needed in order to fulfill the city’s requirement that developers make 20% of new units available at affordable rates. The current plan also includes a 3,758-square-foot parking garage with accessible parking and electric vehicle charging stations.

The project would require density bonus waivers to exceed setback and floor area limitations, as well as allow for the 66-foot building height and five stories in the plan rather than the maximum of 35 feet and three stories allowed by Santa Cruz County Code.

Since the development would span the entire parcel that has held the Food Bin and Herb Room stores for almost 50 years, their existing buildings would be demolished. The current plan says that the buildings require significant repairs, including new roofs and flood mitigation infrastructure, and as a result would be expensive to maintain.

Doug Wallace, owner of the Food Bin and Herb Room, said that the plan is to combine the stores in the bottom-floor retail space.

“It’ll double our footprint, and make it a little more shoppable and state-of-the-art,” he said. “We’ll still try to funk it out to keep it Santa Cruz-ish.”

The project’s preliminary application was filed in January, and it remains in the pre-application process. The community meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on April 18. Members of the public are invited to review the current design, bring questions, concerns and feedback to city planners and project applicants.

Once city staff reviews the preliminary application, the applicant will submit a formal application. The city planning commission will then consider whether to move the project forward.

Senior Planner Ryan Bane, who is the lead on the project, and Workbench contractor Tim Gordin did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

The virtual meeting will take place April 18, 6-7:30 p.m. Participants can register here, and the Zoom link is here.

FOR THE RECORD: This story has been updated with quotes from Doug Wallace, the owner of the Food Bin and Herb Room.


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