Merge project should be downsized
My home is very near to the undeveloped 4.11-acre lot at Carmel Mountain Road and Carmel Country Road in Carmel Valley. The developer Gary Levitt is in the planning stages of the proposed Merge project. Many of us in the neighborhood are concerned. We have signed petitions, we have sent our concerns to the developer and we have requested the project be downsized.
The proposed mixed-use development is too dense. It is so dense that Gary Levitt can’t build his massive plan, with the City required parking, without an underground parking lot.
The underground parking garage adds an additional safety issue. I am concerned about the potential for crime due to the parking garage. We do not want an underground parking garage this close to our homes.
Originally the lot was approved for 28,000 square feet of retail, five stand-alone buildings with potential for a nice neighborhood meeting place, known as the “highland village center” (the original name which is more fitting to our neighborhood than the Merge).
Mr. Levitt has purchased the property and is proposing a plan for mixed use. With all the project’s elements considered, not just the retail, it is just less than 90,000 square feet, including:
•13,000 sq. ft. of retail
•22,000 sq. ft. of commercial office space
•10 townhomes with separate garages (approx. 20,000-plus square feet)
•21 rental residences above the commercial office space (approx. 25,000 square feet)
•Underground parking (undisclosed square footage)
According to the original Carmel Valley Community Plan, the lot should be developed as a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood center with an open design and relevant retail for the neighbors of district 10.
We want a small “highland village center,” not a commercial office and residential fortress known as the Merge that Mr. Levitt has planned. The current proposal should be developed somewhere downtown, not in our quiet bedroom community.
Nowhere in Carmel Valley are there residences on top of retail. Our area was designed to be lower density with open spaces. Why do we need the additional townhomes and additional residences on top of retail? Just because he can does not mean he should.
We do not want our neighborhood center to be another commercial business center we do not need.
The concerns of the people in the neighborhood should be heard. Mr. Levitt talks about his rights as a property owner. What about the rights of the people of neighborhood? The proposed development will increase Mr. Levitt’s profits but it will be at the expense of the residents in district 10, who will see a decrease in property values.
We are hopeful that Mr. Levitt and the Carmel Valley Planning Board will take our concerns to heart and find a compromise.
Anne Marie Devine
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