http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/10/24/first-look-at-arrillaga-mixed-use-development-in-menlo-park


Almanac

News - October 24, 2012

First look at Arrillaga mixed-use development in Menlo Park

• Medical offices, offices, retail and housing planned for Stanford lots.

by Sandy Brundage

An eight-acre span of car lots on El Camino Real will turn into a mixed-use complex of medical offices, offices, retail and housing, if developer John Arrillaga goes forward with his plan for Stanford University properties in Menlo Park.

The lots stretch from 300 to 500 El Camino Real; Stanford confirmed that existing tenants — including Tesla — would move out as their leases expire on March 31, 2013. "We are incorporating retail space in our redevelopment project, and Tesla would be a tenant that we would be interested in locating in the new project," said Steve Elliott, managing director for development, land, buildings and real estate at Stanford.

Tesla's possible departure from the city may not make officials happy; Menlo Park Finance Director Carol Augustine said Tesla ranked as one of the city's top 25 sales and user tax contributors for fiscal year 2011-12.

The informal architectural plans remain under copyright, according to city staff, so the Almanac was able to review but not duplicate the renditions. The centerpiece of the project includes 76,500 square feet of office space and 153,000 square feet of medical offices in two four-story buildings, designed to look straight at street level, curved like the bottom half of an "S" in back. The buildings would sit between College and Cambridge avenues, with Partridge Avenue separating the two structures. Parking for the entire project would be mainly underground, with some surface-level spaces planned at the rear of the development for an estimated total of 1,190 spaces.

The final ratio of office to medical office space remains to be seen. Also unknown is whether the medical offices are meant for private practitioners or would be incorporated with Stanford's medical center.

"We do not know and have not determined who the potential tenants, including any medical office tenants, in the new project might be," Mr. Elliott said. "While the specific plan allows for up to 153,000 square feet of medical office on this site, we anticipate that the project may include significantly less than this amount."

A third building next to Cambridge Avenue would have 17,800 square feet of office space spread over two floors.

Housing

Next to Middle Avenue, 36 units of rental apartments, with 8,000 square feet set aside for retail, would be built. Next door, bordering College Avenue, the preliminary plan calls for 112 units of rental housing and 4,000 square feet of retail.

Mr. Elliott said the residential portion of the project would include below-market-rate (BMR) housing, with the actual number of BMR units waiting for the "determination of the final mixed-use design and allocation of square footage, as well as discussion with the city regarding its affordable requirements for the site."

There won't be much for Menlo Park to negotiate apart from the number of BMR homes. According to Thomas Rogers, associate planner for the city, the plans appear to meet baseline requirements for development within the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, meaning that the project would not trigger any negotiations for public benefits. It also won't require approval beyond the Planning Commission's signing off on the architectural details.

Timeframe

"We anticipate starting construction of the new project in the summer or fall of next year. Demolition of the existing buildings would need to occur before this, and this cannot begin until all of the leases have expired," Mr. Elliott said.

Stanford and Mr. Arrillaga are working together closely, but whether the developer plans to donate the buildings to the university has not yet been decided, according to Mr. Elliott. "Mr. Arrillaga is a very generous philanthropist who has provided great benefits to the university, as well as to the city of Menlo Park and other local community projects."

Those benefits include Menlo Park's new multi-million-dollar gymnasium, gymnastics center and recreation center.

Mr. Rogers said the city expected formal submission of the plans within the next two weeks.

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