http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/04/18/city-reveals-details-of-proposed-downtown-plan-in-memos


Almanac

News - April 18, 2012

City reveals details of proposed downtown plan in memos

• EIR scheduled for release Thursday.

by Barbara Wood

Refinements in the long-range plan that will govern development in downtown Menlo Park and along El Camino Real for the next 30 years will be released by the city on Thursday afternoon, April 19, when it publishes the environmental impact report and final version of the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan in preparation for Planning Commission discussion on Monday, April 30.

Go to tinyurl.com/plan-42911 if you can't wait to read the details of the final EIR and want to read city memos that were posted Friday on more than a dozen items the council had asked to explore further.

Among the highlights:

• Parking garage in Plaza 2. The memo says a parking structure on Parking Plaza 2 could provide between 250 and 310 parking spaces, depending on whether part of the parcel is left as a small park. The five-level structure would replace 95 existing spaces, with one level underground.

• El Camino roadway and sidewalks. The memo suggests that four lanes with bike lanes and on-street parking is the preferred configuration for El Camino Real, and also suggests including curb extensions to improve pedestrian safety.

• Senior housing. The memo recommends allowing senior housing in mixed-use zones, but without creating a separate zoning designation. Suggested developer incentives include reduced parking requirements and increased density allowances.

• Retail grouping along El Camino Real. The memo supports making El Camino Real a mixed-use neighborhood with pedestrian-friendly retail, including restaurants and small stores, along with offices and residences. It suggests grouping retail uses along El Camino near downtown Menlo Park and at Middle Avenue and El Camino.

• Economic analysis of regulations for potential projects. The memo says mixed-use residential development with the proposed densities should generate a profit for the developers at current land values, but residential development with the proposed densities might have more financial problems.

Worse off are mixed-use office projects at current market rents, which do not appear economically feasible even with increased density.

"Under current market conditions, it is unlikely that new office development will occur in the study area for most small and large parcels," the memo says.

Other items discussed in the memos include building heights and setbacks, bike lanes, sustainability, live/work zoning and restaurants.

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