The Santa Cruz City Council approved a 70-unit, five-story apartment building on the open field next to Lulu Carpenter's that used to be a cobblestone courtyard that housed Bookshop Santa Cruz, the original Santa Cruz Roasting Company and Kelly's French Bakery.
The site has been vacant since the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 and an earlier proposal to build a seven-story building there in 2006 fell through when the developers backed out for lack of funding.
The current plan by developer Bill Brooks Properties is to build 70 apartments that will eventually be converted to condominiums when the real estate market comes back. As part of a compromise with the city, the developer will have 10 affordable units when the conversion goes through.
It will have 4,500 feet of retail on the ground floor, as well as spaces for 66 cars and 76 bicycles.
"I feel really good about this," said Vice mayor Don Lane. "It's taken a long time to get a quality project there.
Lane said the units are on the smaller side, so should be affordable to working people around Santa Cruz, and he hopes, will attract people who work downtown and won't need to drive there.
The building will have a community room and the studios, one and two bedroom apartments will have outside decks.
There was some debate when Katherine Beiers objected because the developer wasn't providing enough open space, in keeping with the city's Downtown Recovery Plan. However, she joined the majority when they questioned whether obstacles would force another developer out and leave the ground empty.