Modesto to consider changing zoning to allow 7-story downtown condo project

A long-planned pitch for downtown housing is scheduled to come before the Modesto City Council on Tuesday for a zoning change.

The project calls for a seven-story office and condominium tower at 10th and H streets. It's been in the pipeline under Paul Draper of Centerra Capital since 2005.

Downtown housing is a popular platform for City Council members even though Modesto hasn't seen a significant new project since Ralston Tower was built for seniors in 1974.

Councilman Garrad Marsh frequently talks up the potential to build relatively dense housing on either side of downtown railroad tracks. Councilman Dave Lopez endorsed "growing up, not out" in his 2007 campaign.

That suggests Draper will get a favorable response when he brings his project back to the council for the zoning adjustment, which sailed through the city Planning Commission with a unanimous vote last month.

Draper is seeking to build on property owned by the Modesto Redevelopment Agency, which could help him keep down the costs of land.

J.S. West, a nearby feed supply and propane company that has been based in downtown for a century, sent the council a letter urging the elected officials to be mindful of how the project could affect other businesses.

"While there are numerous positive aspects to this proposal, we would be remiss if we didn't remind the City Council and Mr. Draper that there are businesses nearby that might be negatively impacted by future tenants," J.S. West Vice President Jill Benson wrote. "I would caution that we need to be aware of those existing uses and remain in full disclosure throughout this process."

The Modesto City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Bee Assistant City Editor Adam Ashton can be reached at or 578-2366.