Richmond council green lights 193-unit mixed-use development

Richmond council green lights 193-unit mixed-use development

A 193-unit mixed-used development just south of Interstate 580 in Richmond received a green light from City Council Tuesday despite concerns from some members over its industrial location and close proximity to the freeway.

The Bay Walk development at 830 Marina Way South will add much-needed housing supply to the city, along with new small businesses to a long-dormant site, according to city officials.

The project will redevelop about 10 acres at a location that had lost interest from industrial users, said Richard Mitchell, the city’s planning director. The plans, by Development Solutions Seascape, LLC, include 98 three-story live-work units and 95 three-bedroom, three-story townhomes and include roof-decks with views of the Bay. All units will be market rate. Each will feature two-car garage spaces and options for solar power.

baywalk.10-7The live-work aspect of the project encourages small businesses to move in. A central coffee shop will have the potential to become a community meeting space. Developers say they’re in talks with popular local shop Catahoula Coffee Co. to move into the space, and the hope is a grocery store will also move in. A large open space area will feature trails and a community garden, the developer said.

The project is expected to generate $9 million for the city in permitting and fees, Mitchell said. Of the $9 million, about $2.8 million are fees the developer will pay the city in lieu of including affordable housing units in the project. Project construction will add about 300 jobs, some of which will be done by RichmondBUILD trainees.

Mitchell called the project “interesting and appropriate for that site.”

But Councilmembers Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez opposed the development over its location, citing the potential for cancer-risk due its proximity to the freeway and nearby rail and port activities.

The developers said pollution sources have been “fully mitigated” in the development. Air quality consultant Jeff Horneck says the use of air filtration systems, which will be managed by the complex’s homeowner’s association, are proven to be 90-percent effective in reducing indoor pollution and ultimately allow the development to meet rigid local air quality standards.

McLaughlin, Martinez and Beckles doubted the air filtration systems would do enough reduce health impacts on residents, particularly when they open doors and windows to their units.

Horneck countered that analysis of the air filtration system’s effectiveness took into account that doors and windows will occasionally be opened.

“The mitigations seem to me to be inadequate,” McLaughlin said, adding that she was unnerved that potential buyers would be advised to keep their windows and doors shut to reduce exposure to the area’s pollution.

Mayor Tom Butt called the pollution mitigation plans imperfect but “reasonable.”