Pleasanton’s Planning Commission and City Council later this year will decide on the project proposed by Robson Homes to redevelop the site of the closed Barone’s restaurant.
The site is between the Rose Hotel and the Barone family’s personal home on St. John St. at the north end of downtown. Peters Avenue merges into St. John in front of the site.
Mark Robson, president of the homebuilding company, outlined plans for the site during a presentation to the Pleasanton Men’s Club. He frankly described it as the first outreach to the broader public after they’ve been working with city staff and close neighbors for a few years. The site was zoned for residential in the last update of the downtown plan.
Robson grew up in Arizona, the son of a homebuilder. His dad, now in his 90s, still is in the office daily. Robson moved out here to attend Santa Clara University, married a local woman and has operated his company here since 1989.
The firm has built primarily in the Silicon Valley with single-family home projects, higher density multi-family developments and retail projects. It primarily has focused on infill or redevelopment projects. His company takes pride in meshing the infill projects into the existing neighborhoods and builds homes with upscale fit and finish.
The design for the Barone’s site includes two retail buildings with a patio that is patterned after Blacksmith Square in Livermore that Mike Madden developed. It will replace the restaurant building and Robson said he hopes to attract a winery or multi-winery tasting room for that space. The retail space followed direction from the Planning Commission in 2021.
The plan includes 14 single-family homes and have used an unusual 2 ½ story design to stay below 30 feet. That involves excavating for the garage below street level so only ½ the door shows on the streetscape. The garage entrance slopes down and allows parking for two vehicles with enough space to move around. The units also are built tightly together almost like row houses.
All of the homes are four bedroom and will hit the market, assuming approval, at more than $2 million. Robson frankly said they are luxury homes. It will be an easy stroll to Main Street and its variety of restaurants and shops.
There is no similar housing demographic downtown once you get away from Second and Third streets to the east and a few larger homes on that side of Main street.
Robson expects some opposition to arise from somewhere—it’s an occupational hazard for homebuilders, particularly those doing infill and having to contend with neighbors. That said, they’ve been at it for more than 30 years so it’s far from their first rodeo.
Editor's note: "Tim Talk" is a blog written by Tim Hunt, a native of Alameda County. Hunt spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in addition to writing editorials for more than 15 years.