A rendering showing a proposed housing development next to the clocktower in downtown Santa Cruz.

Two plan sets have been submitted to Santa Cruz city officials to redevelop 2020 N. Pacific Ave. The larger plan includes 260 homes in an 18-story building. (Workbench) 

Last updated: April 2024

Project name: Clocktower Center

Location: 2020 N. Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz

A Santa Cruz County Bank building is now on the site.

A map showing 2020 N. Pacific Ave. the site of a proposed housing development near the Clocktower.


  • On March 4, Workbench submitted pre-applications for two potential versions of a housing project. Workbench has until Aug. 31 to submit a complete application.
  • A community meeting about the project is expected but has not yet been scheduled.


Santa Cruz-based Workbench.

Project description

The first version is a 16-story building.

  • Total units: 260.
  • Affordable units: 40.
  • Height: 192 feet.
  • Parking spaces: 78.
  • Details: Both of the versions of the project have shops on the ground floor and a central courtyard.
A rendering of a proposed Clocktower Center housing development on North Pacific Avenue.

Both of the submitted plans for 2021 N. Pacific Ave. include a central courtyard. This version would have 260 units. (Workbench)

The second version is an eight-story building.

  • Total units: 174.
  • Affordable units: 24.
  • Height: 93.
  • Parking spaces: 78.
  • Details: Both of the versions of the project have shops on the ground floor and a central courtyard.

A smaller version of the Clocktower Center could have eight stories. (Workbench)

Frequently asked questions

Why are there two designs?

Submitting two designs gives the developers flexibility to make the project larger or smaller depending on what is most financially feasible, said Tim Gordon, president of Santa Cruz-based developer Workbench. Buildings larger than six stories are generally more expensive to build. 

Workbench can submit another design for the building with a square footage within 20% of either of the proposed buildings without needing to start another application process, according to state laws. 

Why is an 18-story building allowed?

The building takes advantage of state laws that allow developers to build higher than city restrictions if they include a certain amount of affordable homes. The extra height is known as a density bonus. Two new density bonus laws came into effect in January, AB 2345 and AB 1287.

Combined, these laws allow projects with enough affordable housing to double the number of apartments in a project without restrictions on height. The average size of the apartments added as part of the density bonus must match the average size of the rest of the units.

Would Measure M have affected the project?

No. Measure M would not have applied to the extra height allowed by a density bonus. Without the bonus apartments, the building is within city height and density limits. Measure M was defeated by Santa Cruz city voters in March. 

Does the project meet city rules?

City staff have not yet evaluated whether the designs meet city rules, according to the city’s project application page.

The Downtown Plan dictates that the site can include buildings up to 50 feet tall, and cannot block buildings of Mission Hill. Because of the state density bonus, the building is allowed to bypass the height limit.

Gordon said the building won’t block views of the hill. But even if the building did block views, the rule is “pretty ambiguous” and may not apply to the project, he said.

Can Santa Cruz city leaders block the project? 

The city can only deny the project if the building does not meet the city’s objective design standards. City leaders cannot deny the project solely for its height.

The city cannot enforce any new rules on housing projects that were adopted after a developer submits a pre-application, according to state law.  Any new housing rules adopted after March 4 would not apply to the project.

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How to make your voice heard

Submit comments and questions on the City of Santa Cruz project pages for 2020 N. Pacific Ave.

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