Planned Construction October 28, 2014

Theatre, Garage Proposed for Downtown Los Altos

Los Altos: Council to discuss theater proposal
By Jason GreenDaily News Staff Writer

A multi-use theater could inject much-needed life into downtown Los Altos during the evening, according to a former mayor. Paired with a public garage, the project could also help the city address a parking crunch.

On Tuesday, the City Council is slated to hold a study session on King Lear’s proposal to build both a 175-seat facility capable of showing movies and live performances and a 400-space structure on Parking Plaza 2.

“We have nice restaurants, but beyond that there is little to do in the evening,” Lear, who served as mayor from 2000 to 2001, wrote in a report earlier this year outlining his proposal. “There is no gathering place to see friends and be entertained after dining at a nearby restaurant.”

Studies conducted in recent years have concluded that a public garage is needed in downtown.

Prior to the opening of the new Safeway, parking occupancy was at 88 percent during the mid-week peak, according to a recent report by Assistant City Manager James Walgren. Ideally, it should not exceed 85 percent. And with new development in the pipeline, it could hit 93 percent.

A standalone 396-space structure would cost about $10.5 million, according to Walgren’s report.

Lear’s proposal calls for the public garage to be built first. The top floor of the structure would be reserved for condominiums and proceeds from their sales would be used to pay for the bulk of the theater’s estimated $7.9 million cost. The rest would be raised through a funding campaign.

A plaza and shop would also be built on the Third Street side of the public garage to attract pedestrians and compliment the theater. Rental income could be used to pay for the operation and maintenance of the structure.

“We also need to increase foot traffic on our main streets during weekdays to help our businesses,” Lear wrote. “More parking would help during peak periods. More downtown residents would add pedestrians, not cars.”

The council is scheduled to meet at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 1 N. San Antonio Road.