A sketch of a building, with a library in front and housing behind
A sketch of the downtown mixed-use library project from Jayson Architecture.
(Via City of Santa Cruz)
Civic Life

Santa Cruz updates design proposal for much-debated mixed-use library project

Under the new design, the long-awaited project — proposed for the downtown parcel Lot 4 — will now include more affordable housing units and fewer parking spots. The project is set to break ground in 2022.

The What: On Thursday, the City of Santa Cruz released the recently updated design proposal for the mixed-use library project, proposed for the current surface lot bordered by Cedar, Lincoln and Cathcart streets in downtown Santa Cruz.

The So What: The project has seen updates since its most recent iteration, with an increase in affordable housing units and a decrease in parking spaces. The most recent design includes:

  • 125 units of 100% affordable housing in five stories.
  • A new library with 35,000 square feet indoors and a 5,000-square-foot roof deck.
  • 310 parking spaces within three stories.
  • Lower-level space for a daycare center.
  • Lower-level commercial space.

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Abraham Jayson, principal and founder of Jayson Architecture, the master architect for the project, said in the news release: “The design provides a more prominent civic facade for the public component of the project while also maximizing daylight for the library interiors.”

Backgrounder: The project was originally approved by the city council in June 2020, following years of planning in accordance with 2016 voter-approved Measure S funding for county libraries construction and updates. Over the years, the project has seen pushback from some community factions who have expressed discontent with the proposal to move the library and create the parking lot.

Rick Longinotti, of the group Our Downtown, Our Future, announced an alternative proposal for the site this past September, which would keep the parcel as a permanent location for the Downtown Farmers Market. His group has worked to collect signatures to move its initiative onto the November 2022 ballot.

“The potential for negotiation is still there, because at any point, we can negotiate with the city to meet everyone’s needs,” he told Lookout last month.

Yet other community members have expressed a desire to move forward with the current proposal and revitalize downtown in the process.

Zach Davis, a member of the Downtown Commission and co-owner of The Penny Ice Creamery and Snap Taco, told Lookout in November: “There’s a reason why I live in Santa Cruz and it has to do with the city and community character — I think this project is keeping with that spirit.”

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What’s next? The city will host a series of community workshops Friday for interested residents to learn more about the design proposal. The full presentation will be available on the city’s website later in the day.

On Tuesday, the proposal will be presented and considered for approval by the city council.