WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville Panning Commission at its Tuesday meeting will look over plans for one large Main Street project and see a presentation on another.
The commission will make a decision on the proposed construction of three one-story commercial buildings and two drive-throughs at 975-1075 Main St., previously home to a collection of small businesses, including Mi Ranchito Supermercado and Taqueria Mundial.
The proposal would bring roughly 20,000 square feet of new commercial space and more than 100 parking spaces to the 3.05-acre lot. Those commercial spaces could feature shops and restaurants with outdoor seating for customers, according to the staff report. One tenant is anticipated to be a coffee shop, the staff report said.
The proposal requires a special use permit because of the city’s drive-through facility regulations.
Boos Development Group, Inc. submitted the application and is handling the development on behalf of property owner Santa Cruz Seaside Company, which also owns the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and its ancillary attractions such as Cocoanut Grove and the Boardwalk Bowl.
The old buildings at the property were demolished earlier this year after the City of Watsonville deemed they were creating “life and safety concerns” because of homeless encampments within the vacant structures.
The commission will also hear a presentation on the hotel project at 1 Western Drive, steps away from the intersection of Freedom Boulevard and Main Street.
First approved as a 75-room La Quinta Inn in 2016, the hotel changed to an 80-room Hilton Home2 Suites last year.
Residents surrounding the half-acre lot and the Watsonville Neighbors Association have rekindled their fight against the hotel over the last few months, saying that the change should require renewed planning commission and city council approval. But planning division staff say they have the right to make minor changes thanks to the city’s municipal code.
The neighbors are also calling into question the city’s decision to grant the property owner an extension on its building permit despite the fact that Kamalesh Patel’s company, AARAV Hospitality, LLC, has been suspended by the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office and the Franchise Tax Board since 2017.
Patel in a Nov. 6 phone call told this publication that his company was suspended because of a clerical mishap and that he would return to compliance in roughly 10 days. The SOS office, however, still shows the company is under suspension as of Nov. 30.
Patel in the early November call said he can legally continue to operate his business despite the suspension, a claim supported by SOS officials. A suspension, however, could lead to a business losing many of its powers, rights and privileges within California. SOS officials said a suspension should serve as a “red flag” in potential business deals.
Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker and Community Development Developer Suzi Merriam said they did not know of the company’s suspension before the city granted Patel the extension.
The meeting is set to start at 6 p.m.