The builders of the San Luis Ranch in SLO, California housing development complex offered a tour of the site, and shared the costs for the new homes along Madonna Road. BY LAURA DICKINSON
A commercial center featuring restaurants and shops, a public museum and an organic farm is coming to the San Luis Ranch development now under construction along Highway 101.
The planned Agricultural Heritage and Learning Center will occupy a 53-acre portion of the property at 1035 Madonna Road, where 580 new homes are going in.
The Ag Heritage portion is located along Froom Ranch Way in the center of the development site, which borders Madonna Road, Highway 101 and Oceanaire Drive.
“We’re very excited about announcing this,” said Jacob Grossman, the project manager. “I think it’s going to be the cornerstone of the San Luis Ranch development. It’s going to be the commercial, retail and eatery-type plaza and a fun family gathering space, not only for San Luis Ranch residents, but also the San Luis Obispo community in general. Grossman said the setup will be like a combination of “the Avila Valley Barn and the Bonetti Public Market.”
The Agricultural Heritage and Learning Center at San Luis Ranch will feature restaurants and shops, a public museum, and an organic farm.
FEATURES OF THE SITE
The San Luis Obispo Planning Commission approved the Ag Heritage center project specifics in October.
The commercial wing of the development site — envisioned in the San Luis Ranch Specific Plan adopted in 2017 — will bring a host of attractions with 31,236 square feet of building space, from restaurants and breweries, in addition to a 40-acre organic farm with berry picking and a small stage for live music, as well as a public museum focusing on the agricultural history of the families and activities of the San Luis Ranch site.
Residents, some of whom have already moved in to the new homes built thus far, will be able to walk or bike over to the center.
The developer plans to break ground in about six weeks in preparation for a grand opening in 2023, Grossman said.
“All new buildings within the proposed (Ag Heritage) development are intended to be architecturally consistent with the relocated historic structures, and to reflect an agricultural theme,” a Planning Commission staff report said.
RETAIL SHOPS COMING
The center will have space for 15 to 18 local retail restaurants and shops, and about 75% of the spaces have been filled already, Grossman said.
The restaurant spaces will between about 1,000 and 5,000 square feet, with most shops between 1,000 and 1,300 square feet.
“We’ll have cohesive retails that fit into our theme of farm-to-table and ranch lifestyle,” Grossman said. “The whole idea is that it’s a farm-to-table agricultural experience.”
A rendering shows the proposed design for a restaurant space at San Luis Ranch. The Agricultural Heritage and Learning Center will feature restaurants and shops, a public museum, and an organic farm.
The shops that have signed on thus far, the names of which aren’t being released yet, will include a local distillery, a barbecue restaurant, a wood-fired pizza restaurant, a North County ice cream company that’s starting another branch, a pet store, and clothing and gift retailers.
“We’ve designed the whole thing so it’s very indoor-outdoor and family-friendly and conducive to gathering and hanging out,” Grossman said.
A plaza area will have a little stage for local musicians to perform.
“It’s not going to be a concert venue with tickets, but similar to a winery where an artist is playing the guitar,” Grossman said. “It’s going to be a nice area for local artists to perform.”
San Luis Ranch was where the first San Luis Obispo County Fair was held and home to a racetrack as well.
In the early 1900s, the San Luis Ranch property was a one-mile-long racetrack,” Grossman said.
Some historical structures that have long existed on the property will be part of the project, including the surviving wall of a racetrack viewing stand, which was destroyed in a fire in February 2019.
There will be a public mini museum featuring the site history, including information on the Dalidio family, which owned the property previously, Grossman said. “On the farm, people can pick berries, go to pumpkin patches and find interactive crops,” Grossman said.
“We’ll have a partnership with City Farm next door, and make sure their produce is available in our market and have a nice complement with our organic farming there, and their farm plots as well.
“Community gardens also will be available where both San Luis Ranch residents and other members of San Luis Obispo County community can have a garden plot and grow their own vegetables,” Grossman said.