LAFAYETTE (CBS SF) — The Lafayette City Council will discuss a proposal Monday night that could help save the historic Park Theater in the downtown area, and allow a developer to build an apartment building nearby.

At its meeting Monday, which starts at 6:15 p.m. at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., the council will talk about whether a plan to transfer “density” credits to a developer could encourage construction of an economically practical apartment project on 1.5 acres at Golden Gate Way and First Street.

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The hope is that, at the same time, the density transfer could help preserve the old theater a few hundred feet to the west for eventual donation to the community.

The transfer of density credits from the theater property to the 1.5-acre Lincoln property could allow its owner John Protopappas, anOakland-based developer, to build a 92-unit apartment project there.

Under such an agreement, Protopappas would be required to preserve the old Park Theater building. Protopappas now has an option to buy the Park Theater property, too, needed to make this plan work.

Under existing city rules, a maximum of 52 apartment units could occupy the 1.5-acre Lincoln parcel.

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Such a density-rights transfer would not enable more living units in the area, but would concentrate them at the Lincoln parcel and steer future building away from the Park Theater parcel.

The deal, according to the city report, could also include creating a new small park on a parking lot between the theater and the Lincoln parcel.

Protopappas and Lafayette officials have had initial talks about this idea, the city report says, but nothing more.

A larger apartment complex at the Lincoln site would represent a significant change in character to that block, the city report states, but Lafayette already has several others of comparable size. 

The city has been looking for ways to save the Park Theater since its 2001 closure. The city’s Downtown Specific Plan encourages preservation of distinctive downtown buildings like the Park Theater.

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