LAFAYETTE -- A dance center with a library and studio theater, a film and media workshop for developmentally disabled adults, a community center near the heart of downtown -- ideas for repurposing the old Lafayette library building and a neighboring property are as creative as they are varied.
But it isn't just arts, housing and nonprofit groups interested in breathing new life into the city-owned properties at 949 and 952 Moraga Road. The city of Lafayette has submitted four of the 11 proposals received so far, including moving city offices to the old library site and relocating the police office across the street from there; now, the city leases space for both at a cost of $280,000 annually at an office park near downtown.
A task force of 16 residents will meet through May to review the ideas, plus any additional proposals, and recommend to the City Council "the highest, best and most fiscally responsible uses" for the properties. The selected projects would then go through extensive design, planning and circulation analysis, among other reviews.
"Hopefully we can come up with our preferred use for each site, or maybe a couple of uses and then give that direction to the council," said Mayor Don Tatzin, who along with Councilman Mike Anderson is serving as a liaison to the group.
City Manager Steve Falk put out the call for proposals in early November.
The city bought the 6,000-square-foot old library property at 952 Moraga Road on Nov. 25 from the county for $1.97 million as part of a lawsuit settlement stemming from the formation of Lafayette's redevelopment agency, which has since been dissolved. As part of the deal, the county put a portion of the proceeds into a "special fund" for creating additional library hours, acquiring books and materials and maintaining technical equipment at the new city library on Mt. Diablo Boulevard.
The city bought the four parcels at 949 Moraga Road -- including a 3,566-square-foot vacant building with significant accessibility issues -- in 2010, and has been using some of the property for public parking.
City planning director Niroop Srivatsa said the property is designated as a "housing opportunity site" in Lafayette's housing element, where very low- to moderate-income housing could be built. Srivatsa said if housing isn't built there, the city would have to make sure another site is available for housing.
The proposals include an offer by the Lafayette School District to purchase the old library site, which is adjacent to Lafayette Elementary. They also include a suggestion from affordable housing developer Eden Housing to build 48 studios of affordable "workforce" housing in a three-story building over a parking garage, or 12 townhouse units at 949 Moraga Road.
The proposals from the city include a consolidated "public agencies building" that would also house Lafayette School District administrative offices. Under another option, the city would swap the 949 parking lot with the owners of an office building next to the old library.
The city estimates net startup cost of new offices at about $2.7 million;
if the council decides the building should house new city offices, staffers would use $2.65 million saved for that purpose to reimburse the general fund.
The next task force meeting is scheduled for Jan. 23 at the city offices, 3675 Mt. Diablo Boulevard.