New commercial and retail developments could be on their way to the corner of South Blosser Road and La Brea Avenue in Santa Maria as developers aim to meet the needs of surrounding residential areas. 

The 6.7 acre site, currently populated by office and industrial buildings, can move forward as a planned commercial site after needed zoning and land use amendments were granted by the Planning Commission in June and then by the City Council on Tuesday.

The amendments change the 70,000 square-foot area's land use designation from general industrial to community commercial and the corresponding zoning from general manufacturing to planned development/general commercial. 

Urban Planning Concepts Principal Planner Brian Schwartz noted that the number of existing and proposed residential units in the southwest and southeast Blosser areas totals around 3,500, including the recently-approved Serramonte and Betteravia Plaza developments, with little nearby commercial activity to meet the growing need.

"If you think about the Blosser corridor that turns into Skyway, there’s really not that many commercial opportunities," Schwartz said. "This will be a major area for economic commercial activity."

While no development plan currently exists for the area, city Community Development Director Chuen Ng shared a concept plan illustrating the potential for businesses like a market, a car wash, a drive-through or coffee shop, along with additional office, commercial and retail space. 

"It makes sense for this particular property to be a commercially zoned property to serve the surrounding neighborhoods. It could also act as a buffer between industrial uses and residential uses," Ng said.

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Project applicant Manriquez Commercial Real Estate currently owns the project site and operates out of an office building on the property shared with affiliated farm labor contractor Rancho Nuevo Harvesting Inc.

Another building on the property is now leased by Streator Pipe and Supply, according to Ng. 

The current plan is for all of the existing 1960s buildings on the property to be reconstructed, with the exception of the Spanish-style Rancho Nuevo office building constructed in 2013, which will serve as the template for the new design of the surrounding structures, according to Schwartz.

Residents in the surrounding areas can also expect to see the continued development of biking and multipurpose trails along the project frontage, connecting the existing trails from Battles up to Stowell, Schwartz said.

"This project will continue to enhance the multipurpose trail [and] the bike trail connections," he said.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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