Fremont has approved a plan to build 275 market-rate apartments on a vacant plot at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Liberty Street, a move meant to boost the city’s longtime effort to develop the area into a bustling downtown.

The apartment complex at 3515 Walnut Ave. will feature 2,245 square feet of ground floor retail and a six-story parking garage, according to a city staff report.

Kristie Wheeler, Fremont’s zoning administrator, approved the project at a Dec. 17 hearing. The project doesn’t have to go to the Planning Commission or City Council because it meets the city’s general plan goals for high-density residential in the area.

The Los Gatos arm of national developer Fore Property Co. is behind the project, which will include 59 studios, 125 one-bedroom units and 91 two-bedroom units ranging in size from 556 to 1,429 square-feet, wrapped around the parking garage on a 2.84-acre lot.

Mark Pilarczyk, a spokesman for the company’s Northern California division, said construction could take about two years.

Senior city planner David Wage said the company now will need to get its permits approved before shovels can hit the ground, which could add about four months to the timeline. If all goes well, the apartments could be nearly complete by mid-2021.

The apartment complex will be at the corner of Beacon Avenue and Liberty Street and “accommodate a neighborhood commercial use such as a café or coffee shop,” the staff report says. It’ll stand immediately adjacent to the Paragon Apartments, a four-story apartment building with 301 units, a five-story parking garage and a 17,000-square-foot civic park.

According to the staff report, the complex is roughly half a mile from the Fremont BART station and close to AC Transit bus lines that run along Walnut and Paseo Padre Parkway, as well as several major retailers.

“Given short walking distances to transit and shopping opportunities, the proposed project would increase the likelihood that the project’s residents would walk to such destinations and add more foot traffic to the downtown area,” the report says.

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