Shops, industrial space and 120 housing units are proposed at 831 Almar Ave. in Santa Cruz. (Stephen Baxter — Santa Cruz Local)

A proposed housing and commercial complex at 831 Almar Ave. would be dubbed "New Fmali," a reference to the tea company that operated there for decades.

Shops, industrial space and 120 homes are proposed at a former tea facility on Almar Avenue. Fmali Herb Co. — later Good Earth Tea — was founded in 1972 in Santa Cruz. Its owner has proposed the site’s redevelopment. (Workbench)

Last updated: March 2024

Project name: New Fmali

Location: 831 Almar Ave. 

An empty industrial building on Almar Avenue north of the Coastal Rail Trail.

A map showing 831 Almar Ave. on the Westside of Santa Cruz.

Status: “Pre-application review”

  • Santa Cruz city staff received a pre-application plan set in late February 2024. 
  • This project’s approval will require public hearings, city staff wrote on the project’s city website
  • A community meeting is expected during the review period as part of the city’s policy on outreach for projects.


Santa Cruz-based Workbench is the developer.

Project description

  • Site: The site is roughly 5 acres at Almar Avenue and the railroad tracks. It contains a vacant industrial building and a parking lot.
  • Plan: Three residential buildings are proposed connected by walkways. Two of the residential buildings would be six stories and one would be four stories, said Santa Cruz Senior Planner Brittany Whitehill. A separate two-story building would have shops and industrial space. “The project is still in its early stages, so there is the potential for the plans to change as the project moves through the review process,” Whitehill wrote in a March 21 email. 
  • Total housing units: 120 units, including 60 one-bedroom units, 48 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom units.
  • Affordable units: Nine very-low-income units and nine moderate-income units, based on state-set income limits.
  • Height: Two, four and six stories. Seventy-two feet is the highest point.
  • Density bonus: With the inclusion of affordable homes, the project qualifies for a density bonus under state law. The law allows the building to be up to six stories tall and include 120 homes, rather than a maximum of three stories and 60 homes, according to a statement by the Santa Cruz City Manager Matt Huffaker.

A former tea facility could be redeveloped into six stories of homes, shops and industrial space. (Workbench)

Walkways could connect buildings in a proposed mixed-use project on the 800 block of Almar Avenue in Santa Cruz. (Workbench) 

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