Big senior living plan has no developer

County planners approve freezing impact fees for 10 years as incentive

A giant senior living development in San Juan Oaks, west of Hollister, is still in limbo and San Benito County staff is pushing to lock impact fees for 10 years to attract a new developer.

The project would build 1,084 “active adult” and market-rate residential units, a 200-room hotel, a four-acre assisted living/skilled nursing/memory care facility, up to 65,000 square feet of neighborhood commercial uses and up to 25,000 square feet of amenity space, according to a Planning Commission staff report.

Four years ago, the project was approved for San Juan Oaks LLC and developer Del Webb.  The project manager for the development is Scott Fuller and the applicant is San Juan Oaks LLC. Pulte Homes, a subsidiary of Del Webb, pulled out and the project is currently without a developer. According to documents provided by San Juan Oaks LLC to the county staff, a new developer is expected to be brought on board soon; however, San Juan Oaks requested an extension to the impact fees assigned to the project in 2015.

In exchange for freezing the impact fees for a decade, San Juan Oaks LLC offered to pay a public benefit fee of $6.059 million. The money can be used for any purpose within the county and is applied to the general fund. The Planning Commission approved the agreement on a 3-1 vote at a March 20 meeting, and the proposal will now go to the county Board of Supervisors for final approval. Fuller told the Free Lance that the request is expected to be heard at the April 15 supervisor meeting.

Without the lock on the project’s impact fees, anything built after 2023 would be subject to the county’s current rate, costing the developer who comes on board more money. San Juan Oaks LLC told city staff, as documented in the report, that the increase in fees could have made finding a developer impossible—setting the project in limbo once again.

The staff recommendation was to approve the proposal because of the “public benefit” the project would have. The project comes with 1,240 acres of permanent open space and seven acres of private parks for the neighborhood development. Staff also concluded that an adult community would have a less significant impact on county and city services than a typical family residential housing development.

Ultimately, the county believed that if the impact fees were not kept at the same rate, the project might not be completed. “Without this amendment, administrative staff believed that there is a risk of losing the project entirely in this county, at least for the foreseeable future,” read the staff report.

There is currently no hard timeline on the project, with the project agreement stating, “The owners cannot predict when or at what rate the project will be developed.”

It goes on to say, “The parties further acknowledge and agree that nothing in this agreement or in the other initial approvals require that the hotel component of the project be built at a specific time or at all, and that said hotel component will be built, if at all, at the owner’s sole and absolute discretion.”

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