At the March 6 Poway City Council meeting, councilmembers unanimously supported a new project on Poway Road dubbed “The Trading Post.” This 53-unit mixed use development is the first project reviewed under the recently-updated Poway Road Corridor Specific Plan.
Poway Development Services Director Bob Manis shares his insight on this milestone and how the updated Specific Plan will impact future development along Poway Road.
At the City Council meeting, there was considerable support for the Trading Post development. Why the excitement?
The Trading Post is the first project reviewed under new standards that were adopted as part of the Poway Road Corridor Specific Plan in December 2017. As part of an extensive, multi-year process, standards were modified to reflect the community’s vision for Poway Road – it made this type of project achievable. The Trading Post is in the section of the corridor referred to as the Town Center, which is between Carriage and Community Roads. The vision for this area is to become a vibrant, family-oriented, pedestrian-friendly “Main Street” environment with a mix of commercial and residential uses, supported by a thriving civic district. (Read more about the plan here.)
Where is the Trading Post development and what are its key features?
The site is comprised of five adjoining parcels totaling approximately 1.58 acres on the south side of Poway Road, west of Community Road and east of Bowron Road. The properties formerly housed the Poway Chieftain and Poway Irrigation businesses. Poway Property, LP (the applicant) is proposing to develop 53 dwelling units (lofts, townhomes, live-work units and apartments), 40,213 square feet of commercial (restaurant, office, coffee shop and fitness center), with two levels of underground parking.
How does it set the bar for future projects on Poway Road?
The Specific Plan provides guidelines as to what development should look like – what the City would like to see in the corridor. The elements of the Trading Post exemplify the intent and vision of the plan and set the bar for future projects. While this isn’t how development projects all have to look, the architecture is consistent with guidelines of the Specific Plan. Additionally, the project incorporated several of the community benefits identified as desirable for future development. These include an internal pedestrian passageway that will connect The Trading Post to surrounding properties, public open space where people can congregate and a restaurant row that will include a food court and a café.
With the new Specific Plan in place, does that mean we’ll start seeing more development along Poway Road?
Not necessarily. We aren’t giving a green light for development to occur at will, but rather updating standards by which to evaluate projects that come up for review. Ultimately, it’s the market that drives whether or not development will occur. Is there a need for certain types of development? And does the land value allow for that type of land development to occur? However, the new Specific Plan did put an emphasis to redevelop vacant and underutilized properties within the Town Center district of the corridor. As a result of the Specific Plan update the City has certainly seen more inquiries regarding future development along Poway Road.
You’ve received both support and apprehension about development along the Poway Road Corridor. Are there common misconceptions about the newly adopted plan?
We’ve heard a lot of talk about the maximum number of residential units allowed under the plan and people are worried about the impact on Poway Road. There are two important things to remember about this number. First, we didn’t increase the maximum number of residential units under the revised plan – in fact the previous Specific Plan would have allowed for a much larger number of units, approximately 2,000 residential units, whereas the current plan allows for 1,149 new residential units throughout the corridor. And, setting a ceiling on the number of residential units doesn’t automatically mean that these units are going to happen. Every project goes through a review process to ensure the project meets the adopted development standards and is in the best interest of our community.
What steps would a proposed development go through and did that change with the newly adopted standards?
The process remains the same under the updated Specific Plan. The City of Poway gives developers an option to request a predevelopment conference at a City Council meeting. This is a valuable opportunity for projects that are complex – they get a chance to explore what issues they need to address without incurring a large expense. There’s no decision made at this time, just feedback from council and staff on the level of support for the project and what the developer may need to integrate or change before moving on to the next step.
Next, the developer would prepare and submit an application with detailed plans, then go through a review process with city departments. After the department review is complete, it would be scheduled for a public hearing before the City Council. This is a formal hearing in which the public has an opportunity to comment prior to City Council action. If the applicant receives approval from City Council, the developer then can submit construction drawings for requisite permits and move forward on the project.