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Menlo Park: Boutique hotel proposed for El Camino Real

It's a small lot -- the property at 1400 El Camino Real in Menlo Park is about half an acre -- but big enough for a 63-room, four-story hotel with underground parking, according to a local developer.

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4 people like this
Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2015 at 10:00 am

With this council anything and everything are ok for approval.

Actually, why not make it 6 or 10 stories and expand to over 100 rooms. After all we don't have any traffic problems.

Then for sure, we can give all City Staff and especially our City Manager and his top brass big raises with the extra revenue this will bring.

And for good measure let us "fast track" this project; we don't need any EIRs or toher studies to slow down its being developed.


11 people like this
Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 19, 2015 at 10:03 am

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

Don't know about the setbacks, height and occupancy parameters used to get to $8.5 million (I get 6.3). But this is the right idea for El Camino. Bring it on, Jeff

The ePiphany is a quite remarkable redevelopment - however it provides no on site parking.


11 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 19, 2015 at 10:08 am

Couldn't agree more, Old Timer. I sure prefer a gas station, or car wash. Or maybe another dive-diner like Jason's. But I was getting accustomed to the 'Vacant Lot' look which Menlo Park seems to be famous for. Perhaps a small privy with a little cute thatched roof in a grassy meadow to add to our 'village' character.

We have some of the highest occupancy rates for hotels in the country, and there's a huge shortage of rooms. I can think of far less appropriate uses for that lot.


10 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 19, 2015 at 10:14 am

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

Hotels don't generate the same amount of traffic that retail or office does. They trickle in and trickle out on their own schedules, but a hotel will have less impact on traffic than other possible uses, but if people would rather see weeds growing in an empty lot, then I guess they'll be unhappy regardless of what is proposed. This is a great location for a hotel, close to downtown, close to the train station, close to the new Greenheart development.


6 people like this
Posted by Dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2015 at 10:56 am

A small boutique hotel with underground parking is a great "development concept" for El Camino Real in Menlo Park. I look forward to learning more and tracking this projects progress on Re-Imagine Menlo Park as information becomes available. For those with big concerns about "traffic" I recommend you support making ECR three lanes its entire length. That simple move would reduce the daily average traffic per per lane by 50% - that's HUGE!


6 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 19, 2015 at 11:10 am

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

"That simple move would reduce the daily average traffic per per lane by 50% "

Please provide some citations to back this up, taking into account Induced Demand. Web Link

Building bigger roads just makes traffic WORSE.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2015 at 11:10 am

You can read my analysis of The Future Of El Camino Real (traffic) at bit.ly/reimaginemenlopark-ecr.


2 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2015 at 11:16 am

Mr. Wells,

Over 45000 vehicles travel on ECR on an average day and 80% are simply passing thru Menlo Park.

I rather doubt that adding 2 lanes would increase overall traffic by 50% = 22500 vehicles.

So increased capacity would far exceed "induced demand" = additional lanes are a great idea!

Also consider that ECR is ALREADY 6 lanes south of Ravenswood.


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Four stories built out to the narrow sidewalks is a bit high considering the wind produced by the building. Perhaps two with upper stories set back terrace style. Would also need strict enforcement of No Stopping on Glenwood from San Antonio to ECR and on ECR. What happens to the bus stop?

What about the EMS effects on the upper floor patrons from the new PG&E wiring from the substation.


12 people like this
Posted by George C. Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2015 at 12:36 pm

"Also consider that ECR is ALREADY 6 lanes south of Ravenswood."

But that is where the traffic is 47,000 cars per day. North of Ravenswood traffic is only 34,000 cars a day. Why would we want to increase the traffic to 47,000 cars per day there. Adding lanes is counterproductive and simply increases care to the disadvantage of everyone, except possibly those wanting to go faster on El Camino Real.

In the El Camino Corridor Study survey, the least desired change by respondents was was higher travel speeds on el camino real (only 17% positive) while the most desired change by drivers, cyclists, walkers, and transit riders was to "enhance pedestrian safety and crossings" of ECR. Adding more lanes is inconsistent with the survey results and will decrease pedestrian safety and crossings.


1 person likes this
Posted by Dagwood
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2015 at 12:43 pm

On the 'benefits' issue, the project has in its favor simply that hotels are perhaps the best revenue source for the city measured in dollars per square foot per year. That's an 'intrinsic' benefit if anything is. In other words, given good building design and parking, there's every reason for the city to want this project to be larger rather than smaller. You cannot say the same of a pure office building, which is on tap just a few blocks away on Alma, also expected to ask for additional build-out through public benefit negotiation. Hotel tax provides one of several useful metrics possible for the city to negotiate with other developers wanting a larger project.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Perhaps two with upper stories set back terrace style. "

The Specific Plan already requires that the upper floor be set back.

"E.3.4.3 Building Profile
The Specific Plan includes a standard for a building profile
at upper stories that requires a building to comply with
a 45-degree building profile above the maximum façade
height specifi ed for the zoning district. Figure E11
demonstrates the 45-degree building profile. The building
profile requires upper floors to be stepped back from the
façade of the building.

Standards
E.3.4.3.01 The 45-degree building profile shall be set at the
minimum setback line to allow for flexibility and variation in
building façade height within a district."


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Posted by Planning Commissioner
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 19, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Yes Peter, the building (from what I can spot on the tiny section drawings) does not comply with the DSP height requirements. I hope the Architects bother to read the DSP so the developer doesn't waste their time getting this kicked into the long grass.

As it is a project that is in the DSP, it would receive its ascendancy without a Use Permit hearing. But then we've yet to see a project go through without one....


3 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 19, 2015 at 1:54 pm

I like the idea of a boutique hotel on this site. It's in walking distance of Santa Cruz Ave. and the MP CalTrain station to make it interesting for visitors.


9 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 19, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Where will the water to support all the new development come from?


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Posted by KKW
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 19, 2015 at 3:42 pm

An interesting idea, with revenue and relatively modest traffic increases. The proposed plans, as shown, seem to be slab-sided building with NO setback of upper stories, much less the 45% Peter Speaks of. And the present bus stop seems problematic with access to parking only at that same location.

But it could work, if they get creative. I suspect that with the setbacks, there is no longer enough rooms to make the project pencil lout.


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Posted by Beth Martin
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

The height of the proposed hotel is 48ft, which is the max with Public􀀃 Benefit􀀃
Bonus, with a facade height of 38". (See Specific Plan Table E2. and hotel plans page 25 Web Link), so it looks like it does comply. Its hard to tell from the Specific Plan rules if the upper floor in this case needs to be 45-degrees from the front setback line, or from the floor that reaches the max facade height. In any case, the hotel plan has a little 45-degree line that implies they thought about it. The plans include 20' setbacks from the El Camino property line, plus widened sidewalk on El Camino (but narrower on Glenwood to accommodate a new right turn lane. I think this is a fine use of that land, shouldn't produce a lot of added traffic, although the residents on Glenwood will see more cars.

Note, however, that the developers have asked the city to give up some of the revenue (1M) for the first 6 years so they can pay off the investors first. So, city occupancy tax estimate goes down to $7.5M, which is still better than putting an office building there.


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Posted by Menloshopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 20, 2015 at 11:43 am

@BethMartin - Where/who says the project asks for a $1M offset or whatever to pay investors? I didn't see that in the article. Sounds unlikely and perhaps not even legally possible, and a total non-starter at the least.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2015 at 1:14 pm

George, there is less traffic at the North End because so much traffic on the south end enters and exits ECR at Ravenswood AND because Sand Hill to Alma (Palo Alto) traffic travels on ECR twice because of the lack of a direct connection. Adding northbound lanes would make little difference to drivers who are coming from/going to Middlefield Avenue. By the way, if you reduce overall traffic on ECR it will simply go elsewhere including Menlo Park neighborhoods. I think in general discussions about traffic are better suited to articles about the ECR Corridor Study.


6 people like this
Posted by maximus
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2015 at 2:01 pm

This strikes me as exactly the kind of project that Menlo Park should welcome in its central core. Provides substantial tax revenue. Brings foot traffic and vitality to the central core. Near Caltrain. Supports local commerce.

Menlo Park curmudgeons who dwell on the a romantic vision of the pre-Silicon Valley era are turning Menlo Park into the least vital town on the Central Peninsula. Where else do you find the endless string of vacant lots you find in Menlo Park? Without density, the downward spiral will continue.


3 people like this
Posted by Build Menlo Park
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 20, 2015 at 3:09 pm

I have lived in Menlo Park for 60 years and seen it grow to what it is today. Yes, ECR is busy at night, but the lack of access routes to 101 and 280 are the major cause. This project proposal is fantastic for Menlo Park. It add much needed hotel space to the city rather than having out of town family and friends go to Palo Alto hotels. Has anyone seen the boutique hotel build in Los Altos on a much smaller piece of land at the corner of San Antonio and Main st> A prime example of what can be done. To all you "non growth" people, wake up and build. Put your traffic woes behind you because I am willing to bet you never even drive in Menlo Park. If you want tax revenues, you must build viable tax generating space.


3 people like this
Posted by Bob McGrew
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 23, 2015 at 11:19 am

This will be a great project for Menlo Park! If nothing else, it's going to have a bar, and Menlo Park could really use one. :)

Seriously, though, hotels bring in a lot of tax revenue with less traffic than most other uses, and this one will also contribute foot traffic to help support retail and restaurants downtown. That's a good thing.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2015 at 11:29 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Speaking of Bars, anyone know what's happening with the reopening of the BBC? Haven't seen or heard anything since they announced they were going to reopen.


Like this comment
Posted by lessons learned
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 23, 2015 at 11:38 am

lessons learned is a registered user.

Web Link


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Posted by Another Old Timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm

At last, another bar! This is fabulous for Menlo Park. Traffic comes down our little street all the time but to me, it just sounds like tax dollars pouring in...


3 people like this
Posted by West MP neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

If anyone still wants a small town feel, you need to move to Montana. Sorry but that horse is out of the barn.
A small boutique hotel is a great addition if they adhere to the current guidelines with regard to traffic mitigation and the myriad of other regulations.


2 people like this
Posted by anne
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 23, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Why just Silver LEED???? Why agree to settle for less than Platinum?


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 23, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Why agree to settle for less than Platinum?"

Because the zoning ordinance does not require Platinum and you can't just change the rules to suit your whimsy.


Like this comment
Posted by Skip Hilton
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 23, 2015 at 10:41 pm

This is a great project for menlo park. Butique hotels like this was contemplated in the specific plan. It is great to see the process work and starting to yield results. I am not sure about the TOT rebate but I have confidence the city council will review this and only approve this exception if it benefits our city and our citizens.

I have only 2 requests of the developers as they bring a 4-star boutique hotel to our town.

1. Make it beautiful. This structure will serve as the northern gateway to our city's this is an opportunity to create a landmark you can put on postcards. Don't compromise on design and aesthetics.

2. Follow the lead of Trellis and the new BBC restaurant - open up the roof! This is wasted space that can be utilized to create unique venues that will set our town apart. I am not sure if this pencils out or even complies with current specific plan- but is the kind of thing that we should make exceptions for so that it is encouraged. A true public benefit if the public is able to enjoy it. I would give up 10% of the TOT to see a full service bar and restaurant on the roof with gas heaters!


2 people like this
Posted by Westside Trucker
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 24, 2015 at 1:56 pm

The alternative to this great idea is an abandoned dirt lot surrounded by a "rent a fence" for years on end.


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Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 24, 2015 at 2:05 pm

At first i thought 'Skip Hilton' was a suggestion to avoid large hotel chains for this project, but I realize my error. Agreed with rooftop activity, if it doesn't sneak too far into residential areas.


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Posted by Mich
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 30, 2015 at 1:44 am

To generate that amount of TOT tax revenue, they'd have to have full occupancy for 10 years at >$300 per night. I doubt that will happen, especially now that the Marriot Residence Inn just opened @ 555 Glenwood (a block from this proposed new hotel).

Does anyone else have concerns that Pollack has NO experience with hotels? Good grief! Let's get professionals, not folks wanting to experiment.

How's that underground parking going to work when they trench for the high speed train a block from the hotel?


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