COLORADO AVE — The local face of the development group trying to replace the Village Trailer Park with condos, apartments and affordable housing has signaled his desire to explore a “middle way” with a proposal which would allow some residents to stay on the property.
Marc Luzzatto, president of The Luzzatto Co., asked to delay an Aug. 28 City Council hearing for a development agreement for the proposed East Village project so that he and his team could come up with a “creative solution” to reconfigure the design and preserve some of the trailer spaces in the process.
This is a big shift from the company’s previous stance that all the trailers would have to go to make way for the roughly 440-unit development, despite protestations from the largely elderly and disabled community that a move could do them irreparable harm.
Details of the proposal are scarce at best, but the company hopes to come before the City Council with a full work-up within one or two months, said Maxwell Baldi, a spokesperson for the Luzzatto Company.
If the team deems it economically feasible, the plan could keep an undefined but limited number of current tenants in the park while the commercial project is built literally next door.
Between 25 and 32 of the 42 full-time Village Trailer Park residents can be moved to the Mountain View Mobile Home Park, a city-owned trailer park four blocks away from their current home, Luzzatto wrote in an e-mail.
“However, as we listened to community input in all of the public hearings, a recurring theme seemed to be the desire of some residents to stay on site,” Luzzatto wrote.
That theme has been the backdrop of the debate since Luzzatto first issued a notice that he would be closing the park in 2006.
He has been negotiating with City Hall through the intervening six years to, in part, find a place for Village Trailer Park residents to go after the park closes down.
Options Luzzatto put forward in the interim included moving some residents to Mountain View with a brand-new trailer purchased by his company and owned by the resident or up to 7.5 years of subsidized rent while the new East Village complex is built and then an affordable apartment in the complex.
A counter proposal, brought forward by architect Ron Goldman, suggested developing a portion of the land and granting the rest to a nonprofit corporation which would then operate the park next to the development.
The outline of the Luzzatto plan sounds similar to the Goldman concept, which the developer denounced at the July 24 City Council hearing.
“It doesn’t work, it’s a non-starter and we won’t do it,” Luzzatto said at the time.
It’s unclear at this point if the section of the park would be operated as a trailer park in perpetuity, or if it would revert to the developer after the last of the tenants had moved or passed away, although the company is looking at both options, Baldi said.
The new idea appears to be largely crafted by the developers with little input from the rest of the Village Trailer Park residents. Baldi was unsure if the company had direct contact with residents.
City officials are hesitant to speak to the plan until Luzzatto has delivered a detailed proposal.
The process has been a long and difficult one, but the team hopes that the potential new plan will result in a better, more community-responsive project, Baldi said.
“The goal has always been to do this in a way that is humane and socially responsible,” Baldi added.