Almanac

News - March 6, 2013

Menlo Park: Glenwood Avenue hotel reviewed by commission

by Sandy Brundage

As plans to convert a senior home into a Marriott Residence Inn move forward, the Menlo Park Planning Commission is taking a look at the project's architectural design and providing input on the proposed parking strategy.

Sand Hill Property Co. is under contract to buy Casa de Peninsula, a 125-unit senior residential property at 555 Glenwood Ave., and convert it to a 138-room hotel, according to representative Reed Moulds. Of the 80 seniors living there at the time the project was proposed, 57 moved right away, while the remainder waited to see whether the city would approve the hotel.

Branded as a Marriott Residence Inn, the hotel would provide extended-stay accommodations, with about one-quarter of guests projected to stay more than a month. Analyses by the city and the applicant estimate the hotel would add an estimated $669,000 to Menlo Park's annual revenue, with approximately $616,000 to $656,000 contributed by the 12 percent transient occupancy tax approved by voters in November.

The city's new downtown specific plan requires 173 off-street parking spaces for a hotel of this size. However, the applicant proposes 113 spaces — 74 on site and 39 spaces on Garwood Way currently used by the senior home, but within the public right-of-way.

Although the City Council in October urged the applicant to consider partnering with the new owners of nearby 1300 El Camino Real, as well as Zip Car and Caltrain, to mitigate the amount of parking needed, Sand Hill Property said they think that's unnecessary at this time, according to the planning staff's report.

Although the parking strategy got a nod of approval from Public Works Director Chip Taylor, who is currently pulling double-duty as transportation manager, members of the public opposed granting a license for a private entity to use 39 public parking spaces.

"It is significant that if City approves the License Agreement, the License Agreement will be a slippery slope for City," attorney Jim Kashian wrote in an email to the city on March 1.

"It is obvious that the License Agreement will be used as precedent by countless other developers which will demand similar rights to public parking spaces on public streets in order to satisfy on-site parking space requirements for their private developments just like the City approved for Hotel Development. Also, if public parking spaces are able to be used for private developments to satisfy Specific Plan parking space requirements, then developers will be able to build far in excess of what Specific Plan parking requirements would allow."

Go to tinyurl.com/ct4onlm to review the report. The Planning Commission met on Monday, March 4, after the Almanac's print deadline.

See AlmanacNews.com for updates.

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