gmhTODAY 17 gmhToday Nov Dec 2017 - Page 58

City Beat Takeaways from Economic Development and Housing Forums O n August 24th, the Gilroy General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) presented stakeholder forums on housing and economic development issues relevant to the City’s 2040 General Plan Update process. The forums were comprised of industry leaders in each topic area who shared their thoughts on population and job projections, market trends, and innova- tive ideas that are applicable to Gilroy. The robust discussions resulted in a wealth of information and ideas for consideration by the GPAC as they develop alternative land-use plans for analysis in the General Plan process. HOUSING PANEL The Housing panelists included three developers with regional experience around the Bay Area: Alex Sanchez (ROEM Develop- ment Corporation, Executive Vice President), Joe Head (SummerHill Land, President), and Paul Ring (The Core Companies, Vice President of Development). The panel was moderated by Jim Heid, President and Founder of Urban Green, a consulting firm focusing on sustainable development and land use planning. KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE HOUSING DISCUSSION INCLUDED: • Characteristics developers look for in cities when considering projects include available land planned for housing, clear and predictable regulations, and support from staff, decision-makers, and the community. • Developing market-rate higher density housing in Gilroy is challenging under current market conditions because market rents in Gilroy are not high enough to cover the costs to build housing (land, labor, and materials costs and impact fees) • Successful higher density housing needs to be carefully integrated into the 58 surrounding neighborhoods, include mixed-income units, and provide value to the community • Providing market rate housing affordable to “middle income” wage earners (80% - 120% of median) is not possible without some form of public subsidy, and there aren’t State and Federal funding programs to fill the gap for middle-income housing. • Excessive housing costs impact the economy as a whole: people spending large percentage of their income on housing spend less on other necessities; the community loses skilled workers who have to leave the area to find affordable housing. • Future market-rate housing opportunities in Gilroy in the next few years are likely to be mainly in the single-family density range (up to about 10 dwelling units/acre). ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PANEL The Economic Development panelists comprised four representatives, each with a different economic area of focus: John Roush (Paso Robles Downtown Association, Board Member), Robert Earnest (Gilroy Premium Outlets, General Manager), Rich Truempler (The Sobrato Organization, Vice President of Real Estate Development), and Mark Sanchez (Colliers Commercial Real Estate - South County, Senior Vice President). The panel was moderated by Doug Svensson, President of Applied Development Economics. KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DISCUSSION INCLUDED: • Gilroy Premium Outlets are marketed internationally, including Asia and South America and function as a tourism destination. National chain stores appear to be impacted more by internet shop- ping than outlet malls. Simon Property GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 Group, which owns and manages the Gilroy Premium Outlets, does not have any plans for major changes, beyond aesthetic improvements. • Vacancy rates in the industrial and office markets in Morgan Hill and Gilroy are very low, indicating increasing interest in land and buildings, due to reduced inventory and rising costs in Silicon Valley. • Gilroy’s location at the crossroads of Highways 101 and 152 create the optimal area for goods distribution centers (UNFI, Pepsi here, PFG coming). • Gilroy is not expected to attract hi-tech companies or corporate headquarters, but possibly hi-tech support companies or the manufacturing division of large tech companies. • Characteristics commercial/industrial developers look for in cities when considering new development include available land planned with flexible land use policies all owing a variety of uses, while at the same time providing clear, predictable regulations; available housing is also a valuable asset. • The Main Street America program (Paso Robles) provides valuable support and guidance to cities working to revitalize older and historic commercial districts to build vibrant neighborhoods and thriving economies. • Gilroy should continue to capitalize on wine tourism, including attracting more winery tasting rooms and related businesses to downtown. • The previous development impact fee reduction program in Downtown helped spur development. • Gilroy needs to improve the treatment of gateways to the city to enhance and draw visitors to downtown.