April 1, 2014

Community plan near UC Merced available for review

The city has posted the Bellevue Community Plan on its website for public review. The plan for the corridor to UC Merced calls for retail and park space.

The city of Merced has completed a draft of its Bellevue Community Plan and made it available for public review.

The document lays out the city’s plans for developing a major corridor to UC Merced and Castle Commerce Center. As the university grows, the corridor will likely see some development and expansion.

UC Merced has a goal to reach an enrollment of 10,000 by 2020. Area leaders expect many students and their parents will look for housing in the area. Leaders say persuading graduates to stick around Merced could lead to the development of new firms, and eventually a rise in the number of jobs and average income.

The Bellevue Community is in the northeast part of Merced, and covers about 2.4 square miles. The planning area is generally defined by G Street and Lake Road, Farmland Avenue and Cardella Road.

No zoning changes go into effect with the adoption of the Bellevue Plan. The document serves as a guide for development and is meant to be in line with the Merced Vision 2030 General Plan.

The plan states it “strikes a balance between certainty and flexibility” because it will put in place guidelines for development but leave room for changes in market conditions.

The Bellevue corridor serves a number of purposes, including a connection to other streets, open space for recreation and bike use, and settings for business.

The plan says the area should have “an identity distinct from downtown Merced” in order to avoid competition.

The corridor could have up to 2.9 million square feet of “research and development” floor space, an effort to attract new firms and industry wishing to locate near UC Merced.

The plan also includes a variety of housing types, from rural residential estate homes to multifamily dwellings, to accommodate a population increase.

Space along the corridor will be reserved for parks, the plan states, and “sensitive” habitats and wetlands must be protected.

The corridor would connect to Campus Parkway to help alleviate regional traffic, according to the plan. The city is working to acquire a grant to add a second phase to the parkway. The last estimate on the second phase put the price tag at about $33 million.

The entire plan is available on the city’s website, www.cityofmerced.org, under the Planning Department section.

For questions or comments on the program, contact Bill King, principal planner, at (209) 385-6858 or by email at kingb@cityofmerced.org.

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