Proposed demolition of Ace Hardware in Los Gatos draws concern

A proposal for a new housing development that would result in the demolition of a long-standing hardware store in Los Gatos has locals concerned.

The developer, Arya Properties LLC, submitted a formal application in May for a seven-story project that will include 182 residential units, 37 of which will be affordable housing, along with commercial space on the ground and roof levels of the building. The project would consist of over 500,000 square feet of building area on a property of under 2 acres at 15300 Los Gatos Blvd., the current site of Ace Hardware.

Several members of the public spoke against the application at a town council meeting last month, criticizing both the size of the proposed development and the potential loss of the store.

The application cites builder’s remedy, a provision of state law that allows developers to propose buildings of any size and height in the absence of a plan for all housing, otherwise known as a housing element.  Arya filed its application before the town council approved its housing element in June.

Kurt Anderson, the architect for the project, said the local community will have opportunities to comment on the project.

“We’re going to initiate community outreach to the neighbors to determine what their concerns are,” he said.

Zack Franz, a longtime Los Gatos resident who has also been the store manager at Ace Hardware for over 20 years, said the store is a fixture in the community, a place where locals working on home improvement projects can turn to for guidance and supplies despite the rise of online shopping.

“The more and more that we become technologically advanced, we’re losing out on our little places like this, where people can just go and work on their projects themselves, and they’re not going to YouTube to tell them how to do something, then going to Amazon,” Franz said.

Franz, speaking as a local resident, said the seven-story development would be a burden to an already heavily-trafficked area, bringing hundreds of new residents to a busy portion of Los Gatos Boulevard, and would overtake a community hub where many young people in Los Gatos get their first jobs.

“If you go forward with this, I would suggest that we recall each and every one of you, because this is insanity,” he told the council at its June meeting, drawing a round of applause from the audience.

Council member Rob Moore, who lives within walking distance of the store, said Ace Hardware provides an essential service in a town without big box retail stores like Target and Walmart.

“It sort of sounds silly, it sounds cliched, but that Ace Hardware is my Target, (and) sometimes my drugstore; it’s where I go to get anything that I need,” Moore said. ” I’m a big gardener, so I go there for all kinds of hardware and supplies and soil, and so to me, losing Ace hardware is an absolute tragedy.”

Moore said the proposal presents an “unfortunate situation” because the store’s large parking lot makes it a prime location for redevelopment, and …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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