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Higher design standard: It’s a gas

Developer, city heard residents’ message loud & clear

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Higher design standard: It’s a gas

The basic design of the canopy for the Valero gas station at Louise and Cottage avenues in a neighborhood center while neat and presentable raised the ire of nearby residents who wanted something t...

DENNIS WYATT/The Bulletin


POSTED April 11, 2009 5:17 a.m.
Manteca is raising its standards when it comes to gas station canopies in neighborhood commercial projects.

The new Valero gas station going in as part of a combination convenience store/McDonald’s in the Woodbridge Center at the gateway to the new North Manteca has architectural touches that blend into the commercial buildings and future residential development.

The canopy – which incorporates stucco and roof tile – is a radical departure from the typical all-metal canopies such as the one on the Valero station at Cottage and Louise avenues that opened last year.

Developers Art Nunes and Bill Filios worked with the city to devise the upgraded design for several reasons.

First, they wanted something that would build on and enhance development going in along the Union Road corridor north of Lathrop Road including Del Webb at Woodbridge, Union Ranch East and the Commons at Union Ranch.

Equally important were concerns  voiced nearly four years ago by angry residents near Louise and Cottage avenues who felt the city was doing just the minimum when it came to design standards requirements for neighborhood commercial development going in residential areas.

Nothing has fanned the flame of neighborhood discontent in the past five years in Manteca – except a Caltrans plan to extend Northgate Drive into Southland Road to create a new North Main Street interchange on Highway 99 - as much as the commercial development to build a gas station at Louise Avenue and Cottage Avenue. Most who objected had no problem with the neighborhood commercial but they didn’t like the idea of a gas station – that required a conditional use permit – and a possible 24-hour convenience store.

And when the city concluded the developer met all the criteria to get the use permit, they told residents there was nothing on the books that required the builder to design the gas station pump canopy to blend into the commercial design let alone the neighborhood.

Councilman John Harris, who voted against the use permit for the Louise-Cottage gas station said he was happy to see standards being upped to make commercial in neighborhood locations blend into the area instead of abruptly sticking out.
He was hopeful that the city would be able to get design standards in place so that future neighborhood commercial developments would blend in as well. There are a number of places where the Valero design on Louise-Cottage could occur again including along Woodward Avenue near Woodward Park where there is similar neighborhood commercial zoning.

The Planning Commission approved the Woodbridge project with the upgraded design. The tenant – after buying into the design standards when they entered into a contract to proceed – tried to pressure city staff to allow it to drop the architectural columns as well as the roof treatments in exchange for standard support poles as a metal canopy accented with a light tile treatment around the upper edges.

Community Development Mark Nelson rejected the request and kept the higher standards in place. That decision has not been appealed.

The developers have invested extra money into the project that included relocating a site of a proposed South San Joaquin Irrigation District communications tower that will be used by a cell company, the SSJID and the city. The nearly $20,000 investment by the developers who picked up the tab to place the tower at another location on the SSJID property where it has a minimum impact on sight lines.

They don’t want it to detract from nearby homes, their Woodbridge development or 100 future apartment units they are planning behind the center.

It is a similar philosophy Pleasanton has employed in the northern part of that community where gas stations and neighborhood commercial – along with extensive landscaping – are at major intersections in residential areas. They design apartments using the same architecture to buffer the commercial from homes while also employing more extensive landscaping.

The end result is a design that blends the neighborhood together instead of jarring it with abrupt changes with commercial looking one way, apartments another, and the homes still another.

Prime Shine Car Wash — which has a Modesto location — also will break ground in the complex later this year.

The 53,100 square feet of overall retail is kitty corner across from the Raley’s Union Square Shopping Center.

The partners are currently trying to secure a separate freestanding sit-down restaurant. In addition, plans call for three buildings with in-line retail space of 13,700, 10,500 and 7,800 square feet. The in-line space will be built as the market dictates. The 13,700-square-foot building will house a CVS Drugs Store.
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