A new building proposed for downtown Ceres across the street from Whitmore Park has been approved by the Planning Commission.
Satwant Singh and Malkit Kaur Sanghera were before the commission on March 4 seeking approval of a Site Plan Approval to construct a two-story 6,236-square-foot building at 2928 Third Street for mixed commercial and residential uses.
The project is directly north of the Turlock Irrigation District building and will require the demolition of a 1960 block commercial building occupied now by First Impressions Barber Shop and an adjoining home dating back to 1910.
City planning staff deemed the proposal as compatible with the Ceres Downtown Specific Plan.
The ground floor will be designed for two commercial spaces and small residential quarters. The commercial spaces will total 1,346 square feet and 911 square feet in size; the bottom floor will also include a one-bedroom/one bathroom dwelling unit of 738 square feet to the rear intended to house a business operator.
Community Development Director Tom Westbrook said the existing barber shop is expected to take the larger commercial space in the new building. The project will be constructed with a grease trap to accommodate a future restaurant use or coffee shop.
The second floor building area will be designed to accommodate two two-bedroom/two bath apartments sized at 1,120 and 1,035 square feet and a one-bedroom/one bath apartment sized at 738 square feet.
Westbrook said the Downtown Specific Plan calls for mixed uses and this is the first of such uses proposed.
“With the advent of the ACE train stop ultimately coming this is hopefully the direction we’re moving to provide some of that retail service area but also have some residential uses,” said Westbrook. “It’s a pretty exciting project overall.”
The project will include landscaping and replacement of the existing sidewalk with decorative sidewalk improvements similar to the one in front of the Turlock Irrigation District building. The parking area serving the four residential units will be accessible from the alley behind Ceres Drug Store and downtown on-street parking.
Westbrook said the project meets the intent of the Downtown Specific Plan, and encourages both the development and reuse of an underutilized parcel as well as the balance of commercial businesses that already exist in downtown.
With storefront windows, brick veneer at the base and column, and metal canopies above selected window areas the new building will complement the architecture of the TID building.
The color scheme includes “Aesthetic White,” “High Tea,” and “Enduring Bronze” earth-tone cement plaster finishes for the main field and accent areas integrated with “Dark Bronze” metal guardrails for second-floor deck areas and metal canopies over some windows.
The project is the first new building approved in downtown since the Leer Building was proposed – but never built – in 2014 for the corner of Park and Sixth streets. The Leer project appears to have been abandoned, said Westbrook, much to the disappointment of city staff members.
“I’ve not heard anything about any inquiries into that building in quite some time.”
Other improvements underway in downtown Ceres is the former DeBoard & Govett Chiropratic office owned by Sam Khacho.
Westbrook noted that Sam’s Café has re-opened in the Fifth Street Plaza following a fire that damaged the building in November 2017.
Work is expected to resume on the façade improvements on Fourth Street buildings owned by Jim Delhart. There was a holdup with the contractor, said Westbrook, but the presence of scaffolding indicates the work is resuming.
Also at the March 4 meeting the commission approved a Conditional Use Permit to allow the Ceres Police Department to replace an existing 112-foot tall radio communication tower with a new 140-foot tall radio communication tower to improve public safety operations.
The Police Department is upgrading its equipment. On Monday the City Council approved the purchase of a police dispatch radio system and portable and mobile radios. The current system is not reliable, noted Police Chief Brent Smith, with dropped signals occurring.