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First apartment project in 15 years considered
• Planners give their OK to Mitchell Road mixed uses
Mitchell project
This site map shows how an apartment complex would occupy the eastern side of the Mitchell Road property with commercial or retail uses close to the street opposite the Ceres Post Office.

The Ceres City Council will hold a public hearing on May 28 to consider amending the General Plan designation of the property at 3106 Mitchell Road for a new combination commercial and apartment project.

A Conditional Use Permit and a Vesting Tentative Parcel Map was approved by the Ceres Planning Commission last week for the construction of two retail commercial buildings of 15,300 square feet and 13,800 square feet each and a 145-unit apartment complex on three proposed parcels.

The commission action was only advisory vote which had Couper Condit and Dave Johnson voting no against the three supporting members of Bob Kachel, Laurie Smith and Gary Del Nero. Condit expressed concerns about traffic impacts to Mitchell Road and felt the previously approved commercial project for the site would have created less traffic than residential.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, Councilman Channce Condit was the lone vote against even considering the project on May 28. His vote came after he inquired about the original project and was told by Community Development Director Tom Westbrook that the proponent was having a hard time marketing it after a few years so he came up with a new plan for mixed use. The council voted 4-1 to hold the public hearing.

The apartment project is intended to serve mid- to upper-level income renters.

Tom Westbrook, director of Community Development for the city of Ceres, said he is excited to see the first multiple-family project proposed in about 15 years, especially since this one will be for market rates in the $1,200 to $1,600 per month range.

Apartments in Stanislaus County are difficult to find – and becoming expensive – as the population continues to outstrip available housing stock in California. Last year the California Housing Partnership Corporation reported that Stanislaus County needs nearly 20,000 more apartments and other affordable housing to meet the needs of its low-income renters alone. Turlock built 591 moderately priced units in 2016 and 2017, compared to only 59 in Modesto. Ceres has built none.

A report to the commission from Senior Planner James Michaels noted that the staff supports the project as it will “provide the local area residents with additional shopping opportunities, it will create housing options that would otherwise be prohibited, and it provides an attractive building frontage that is readily visible from Mitchell Road. Thus, staff has no objections to the applicant’s request, subject to the conditions of approval listed in the staff report.”

The project site is the large mostly vacant parcel opposite the Ceres Post Office on Mitchell Road. Currently only a house, metal warehouse and truck operation occupy the site. Dhillon Villas of Tracy wants build the two retail or commercial buildings closest to Mitchell Road while a 145-unit apartment complex would be constructed on the eastern half. To do that, a General Plan Amendment is needed to modify the existing “CC, Community Commercial” land use designation on the eastern half of the site to “HDR, High Density Residential.” The apartment complex would consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom units within six three- story buildings containing 24 units each, one two-story stand-alone unit, and a 6,343-square-foot two-story clubhouse.

In 2016 the owner won Planning Commission approval to subdivide the property into five parcels with retail commercial development that included seven commercial buildings for a combined total building square footage of 102,500 square feet. The project did not develop and the project entitlements expired in November 2017.

No specific tenants for the commercial space have been identified.