In a 4-1 vote taken after nearly two hours of public comment Tuesday night, the council approved a mix of 158 condominiums and retail shops on an undeveloped 12-acre parcel at Sabercat and Durham roads, just east of Interstate 680.
The project had galvanized neighbors — 600 people signed petitions against it — who argued that its buildings towered above the surrounding single-family homes; its location adjacent to an earthquake fault, power lines and underground gas pipes posed major safety hazards; and its 300 residents would exacerbate traffic congestion on Auto Mall Parkway.
Neighborhood opposition also was fierce last month when the Planning Commission rejectedthe project — a decision the council effectively overturned.
In siding with San Jose-based developer Michael Luu, council members cited the specter of global warming and projected state population growth to support their decision for taller, more densely populated developments, even near neighborhoods comprised of single-family homes.
"In the time that I've been in Fremont, the population has doubled — and it's going to double again, whether you like it or not," Mayor Bob Wasserman said. "Fremont is going to see
"In the time that I've been in Fremont, the population has doubled — and it's going to double again, whether you like it or not," Mayor Bob Wasserman said. "Fremont is going to see high-rises, it's going to see street cars — all the things we said we never wanted."
"The question in my mind," said Councilmember Bob Wieckowski, who brought up global warming, "is do we make a decision to move forward with something that has some benefit ... or do we continue with the standard development plan?"
Councilmember Anu Natarajan cast the dissenting vote. She said the project didn't fit the neighborhood and was too far from public transit to earn support on environmental grounds.
Opponents didn't rule out challenging the council's vote in court.
Most nearby residents would have supported a smaller development that, project opponent Ravi Pathman said, wouldn't have further clogged roads and strained city services.
"The council voted for development at any cost," Pathman said. "They want to be a big city and bring in the (Oakland) A's, but they can't provide basic services."
Luu said he was ready to work with neighbors on the project's retail component, which is slated to include a high-end grocery store.
"This project represents what the future of Mission San Jose will be," he said.
Luu hopes to break ground no later than this summer and expects the project to take about 18 months to complete.
The city approved a 105,000-square-foot shopping center for the site in 2000, but that project never moved forward.
Luu took control of the property three years ago and began work on the current plan, which will include a 55,334 square feet of commercial and retail space in four main structures on 12.2 acres, health club, 158 condos, a park and nearly 700 parking spaces. The four main structures would be 65 feet tall with a 20-foot tower on top, signifying a gateway to the Mission San Jose neighborhood.