A group of private citizens, Menlo Tomorrow, who were not elected or appointed by any official body, sued the developer, the O'Brien Group, and after months of secret negotiations, reached a secret deal.
People who signed the Derry referendum petition did not necessarily agree with having a secret body that had secret negotiations and which then decided to become a private "planning commission" for the city.
Many of those same Menlo Tomorrow members are also part of Mayor Andy Cohen's kitchen cabinet. At least we can make that public.
So now the Derry project is more than two years late in getting started. It will have five fewer below-market-rate units, which have a value of about $1.5 million. It is saddled with $2 million in public benefit fees, more and expensive parking requirements and less profit margin. Additionally, the Derry project finds itself caught in the current financial crisis, which is not friendly to any development, let alone one so encumbered with public and secret restrictions.
This project is a beautiful example of transit-oriented development, one that Menlo Park will be proud of. Had there been no referendum or protracted negotiations, the project would be almost finished, with people looking forward to moving into their new homes.
I wish the O'Brien Group good fortune with their grant application so that the project can proceed. It would be a shame if Menlo Park lost out on this well-designed, transit-oriented project.
Fremont Street, Menlo Park