In a bid to balance its bottom line, St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church of Mountain View is planning to lease out its Castro Street parking lot to be developed into a new four-story office building. If approved by the city, the proposal would allow the development firm Sobrato Group to build 96,500 square feet of new office space, as well as 12 townhouses.
In the works for the last two years, the lease deal was prompted by the St. Joseph parish's need to find new ways to raise revenue. The parish includes the downtown church and the St. Joseph Catholic School on Miramonte Avenue.
St. Joseph parish officials deferred questions about the land deal to the Diocese of San Jose. Robert Serventi, a diosece spokesman, declined to specify how much revenue the parish needed or how much the deal would provide.
"The parish was looking for certain things to resolve some financial needs they had," Serventi said. "We did an analysis of needs over the months and many ideas came forward."
In 2013, church officials put out a request for proposals from any development firms interested in building out the church parking lot. More than a dozen developers submitted proposals, and church officials eventually landed on Sobrato as the best candidate for a long-term lease for the site.
The 1-acre lot, across the street from City Hall, is a lucrative spot for development, even by Mountain View standards, explained Sobrato vice president Chase Lyman.
"It's downtown Mountain View; it's one of the best markets in the county," Lyman said. "To get a parcel of this size for a building of this magnitude, it was a no-brainer for us."
Sobrato's plans call for office space atop 8,000 square feet for retail shops or restaurants on the ground floor. No tenants are currently lined up for the space, Lyman said.
St. Joseph church officials emphasized that the new project would ultimately bring a slate of improvements to the 110-year old church and its surrounding buildings. During the construction phase, the St. Joseph parking lot would be off-limits and congregation members would have to park elsewhere. But once finished, the development would include a three-story underground parking garage that would be shared by the church and tenants in the new office building. That garage would be much larger than the church's current parking lot, Serventi said.
The church's offices and the pastor's on-site living quarters would be rebuilt as part of the project. Sobrato's plans also include a open-air pavilion that would be shared between the offices and church property. The church building itself would not be impacted by the project, and weekly services and other activities would be able to continue during the construction, according to Sobrato officials.
Sobrato submitted tentative plans for the church property to the city in April., but no date has yet been set for city officials to publicly review the plans.