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Stanford drops plans for mall expansion

Original post made on Apr 20, 2009

Stanford University has dropped its ambitious plan to expand the Stanford Shopping Center and to add a hotel to the mall site.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 1:02 PM

Comments (27)

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 20, 2009 at 9:35 am

Stanford should approach the City Of Menlo Park to develop the abandoned auto dealership properties on ECR into a Stanford Shopping Center Annex.


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Posted by agree
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 20, 2009 at 5:25 pm

With two city staff focused on business development, we should hope such approaching began long ago and that real dialogue continues. I have no information that this is happening though.
As has been suggested during the visioning process, it would be great if Stanford supported another hotel in Menlo Park now that there won't be one at the shopping center.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Hopefully this decision by Stanford sends a clear message to the City of Palo Alto that Stanford has an alternative to capitulating to the extortionist demands of the city - like stopping a project that would have brought jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue to the city.

Palo Alto's interest is not in having a world class shopping center, or more jobs or even tax revenues but rather in extorting as much money and as many concessions (in other countries this is called bribery and corruption) as are possible from Stanford without killing the goose that continues to lay the golden eggs.

If the City of Palo Alto was a foreign country then this would be the operative law:

"The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 ("FCPA") generally prohibits U.S. companies and citizens, foreign companies listed on a U.S. stock exchange, or any person acting while in the United States, from corruptly paying or offering to pay, directly or indirectly, money or anything of value to a foreign official to obtain or retain business (the "Antibribery Provisions")."

Hopefully, Menlo Park will learn a lesson from this decision and will realize that being business friendly means not demanding extraordinary payments/bribes before granting a building permit that would create both jobs and taxes.


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Posted by Rush O'Reilly
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Forget "Palin in 2012" - it's "Lawrence and Carpenter" ("Hank and Pete"?) for me!
I'll take the "Know-it-All" ticket over the "Know-Nothing" ticket any day of the week!


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Posted by UMM?
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Apr 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Say what, O'really ? ?


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Posted by observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 22, 2009 at 8:40 am

Peter Carpenter really doesn't know what he is talking about here. It certainly is not Palo Alto's excessive demands that this project was dropped. Look around. Projects are being dropped everywhere. In this economy you can't justify expansions like this. Stanford has suffered extreme losses in it endowment portfolio. they have to regroup. Mall operators are going bankrupt.

AS for us in Menlo Park, we should really be thankful, that this is not going to happen. Stanford is dropping more then enough traffic our way.


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Posted by don't maul me, stanford
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 22, 2009 at 8:59 am

Menlo Park should be thrilled that the SSC decided not to expand. We get all the mall traffic from cars driving down El Camino, plus Sand Hill, plus the u-turns on El Camino at Cambridge from people who have traveled east on Sand Hill and take a slight detour into our city so as to get onto Alma in Palo Alto. But we don't get a penny of the millions in sales tax generated at the mall. We're providing the access -- for free.

Whether or not the PA council was greedy or misguided, I can't say. But my sense is that most people around here do not want an expanded mall. How many chichi little boutiques does anyone need? Most locals lost interest as soon as SSC kicked out the real people destinations like the drugstore and Fresh Choice.

I agree that Stanford should not be allowed to keep its properties on El Camino vacant. Time for Menlo Park to enact an abandonment ordinance so that property owners who aren't using their land productively are taxed very heavily to help compensate for the opportunity cost.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2009 at 9:51 am

Interesting concept - oppose everything that Stanford proposes and then tax them because they aren't doing anything.


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Posted by don't maul me
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 22, 2009 at 10:46 am

Good job oversimplifying...and completely missing the point.

Menlo Park has no input into Stanford's decisions vis a vis the shopping center or anything else that happens in Santa Clara County. Whether or not individual MP/Atherton residents favor or oppose mall expansion is irrelevant.

Menlo Park DOES have some control over Stanford's use of its property within our city limits. Right now, Stanford's stance has been that they don't want to do anything with their vacant ECR property because they're still receiving rent. Great for them. But not for Menlo Park. That vacant property not only is not producing revenue, it's detracting from our community's attractiveness and curb appeal.

As far as I know, Stanford has not proposed doing anything with that property so there has been no opposition. The only occupant of the abandoned auto row, Tesla, was enthusiastically welcomed to our city.

It would be prudent for the city to strongly discourage property owners, not just Stanford, from allowing their land to collect weeds and debris. A tax would show that we are serious.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2009 at 11:01 am

Wrong - 444 El Camino has been leased to the Fire District and is now back in use.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Let's see - the auto dealers left, JzCool is leaving, there are numerous vacant buildings on Santa Cruz and the owners of the fire damaged building at Santa Cruz and University have shown no sign of rebuilding....

And now you propose to tax owners of empty buildings which will just mean that their rent structure, when they have tenants, will go up.

What is wrong with this picture?


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Posted by mauled
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 22, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Reading comprehension problems, anyone? Or just a lack of understanding of basic economics?

Obviously it would make no sense to penalize property owners by imposing taxes on them when they are trying to rent empty space. The tax would only be imposed on property owners who make no effort to put their land to good use. If the incentives are correct, rents would actually be lowered, not raised, as owners would be motivated to keep their property occupied so would have to keep rents at market rates.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2009 at 10:30 pm

"The tax would only be imposed on property owners who make no effort to put their land to good use."

A tax on intentions would present a very interesting legal challenge and forcing owners to rent would be an unsustainable legal position.

The problem is not a lack of comprehension but the lack of a fundamental understanding of both economics and of tax and constitutional law.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 23, 2009 at 8:51 am

Peter, what exactly is the point of your rhetoric? You have so little factual information regarding the Stanford negotiations and El Camino Real that one would think you never attended any of the meetings relating to both or talked with anyone involved. Is that wrong? Have you been actively involved?

Blanket spam emails from political allies does not an intellect make.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2009 at 9:02 am

My point is very simple - businesses have left Menlo Park and will continue to leave Menlo Park until the city realizes that businesses must be encouraged to be in the city and not be driven out by cumbersome regulations and a plethora of taxes.

My active involvement includes leasing the previously vacant automobile dealership at 444 El Camino from Stanford, thereby ensuring that it will not be 'detracting from our community's attractiveness and curb appeal.' Does anyone else want to ante up?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Do not attempt to label other people - ask me and I will give you the facts and I will not hide behind a phony name.

Yes, I believe in the free market and I also believe is responsible government regulation.

Yes, I believe that citizens have a responsibility not only to speak out on issues but also to actually serve their communities. In my case, I have more than 20 years of federal and local government service, most of it pro bono, including being a 100% disabled Vietnam Veteran.

You will find no evidence of any pleading on my part for government intervention to protect my economic interests.

Now can this thread please return to the subject matter of the published article and intelligently explore why our local governments are driving out businesses and new jobs when the rest of the country is fighting like mad to attract business and new jobs?


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Peter, you are the one accusing the city of driving out businesses, so at least have the respect to prove your case before you beg for a fight.

For now, what I have from you as "facts" to your argument that the city chases away business is...

"businesses have left Menlo Park and will continue to leave Menlo Park until the city realizes that businesses must be encouraged to be in the city and not be driven out by cumbersome regulations and a plethora of taxes."

And...

"the auto dealers left, JzCool is leaving, there are numerous vacant buildings on Santa Cruz and the owners of the fire damaged building at Santa Cruz and University have shown no sign of rebuilding."

Here is my answer, Peter.

There is no proof at all that the city is to blame for the auto dealers choosing to condense their inventory. Point one is already a fallacy.

Cumbersome regulations, you mean use permits? Get into it, Peter, if you are going to act like the expert at least try to be one. The city has great challenges with the permitting process. And the review process for new development is painfully long and arduous.

No disagreement here.

Plethora of taxes?

Now, spare us the tea party comments. Does Menlo Park unfairly tax its businesses versus others? No proof in your comments, so let's just call it a false positive.

Jesse is relocating in Menlo Park as far as I know. Business decision not a city failure. Peet's reopened within days of the fire and Calla has been relocated or will be shortly, isn't that true? I think it is, Peter...another fallacy.

Storefronts are empty all over America, Peter.

Peter, you have a lot of reasons to be respected and admired.

Your arguments in this forum are often emotional and inaccurate. Please do better to keep your own brand above the water line.


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Posted by maul
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 23, 2009 at 1:31 pm

The mall decision had no effect on existing businesses. It was about expanding the mall. Simon and Stanford might like to blame Palo Alto for their woes, but in reality, sales seem to be way down at the stores there. Why expand in this economic climate?

Theoretically, the SSC decision could help Menlo Park...if our business development staff could figure out a way to lure the stores that might have opened in an expanded SSC to our downtown area. Granted, many high end stores might not be interested in Menlo Park, even with far lower rents than SSC charges, partly because the southern end of El Camino looks so squalid. Maybe, somehow, Stanford could be encouraged to support MP's efforts by attracting retail tenants to its property on El Camino. That would be a win all around


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Posted by esquire
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Peter:

You are just the kind of plain speaking straight shooting pillar of the community that Atherton needs.

Not if, but when, Kathy McKiethen gets kicked off the City Council(I assure you that day will come in the not too distant future) it is my sincere desire that you replace her.

Atherton needs someone with conviction and with an ability to knock heads to get things done.

There has been far too much dithering and deadlock on that governing body.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for the support, dad.


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Posted by Thanks Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 23, 2009 at 10:59 pm

You make sense Peter, and contrary to the continuous negative banter put out by Mr. Truth, the naysayer of progress.........your feedback IS accurate. I too have noticed the lackluster support by our town's government for our business district. It is well known in other cities, by developers, by general contractors and existing business people, that Menlo Park has got ridiculous regs, squander many opportunities, and drag their feet. Common sense says to just look at the theater(with the grafetti), the car dealerships, JZ Cool is leaving THAT spot because business is bad, the non-existent Derry Project, the Mattison Project - gone, the car dealerships on 101 - gone, increase in trash containers for the small businesses, lack of parking - and NO absolutely NO consideration for additional parking, 3 to 4 other vacant stores on Santa Cruz for several months. Things aren't good, the "residentialists" are winning!


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 24, 2009 at 8:00 am

Let us all try to stay in the world of reality and base our comments on factual data and not on our political ideology.

You also forgot to blame the recession, famine in poor nations, disease and general malaise on the liberals.


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Posted by Thanks Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 24, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Sorry "Truth" but the recession, famine in poor nations, disease and general malaise on liberals, all came AFTER the items listed above. The theater, car dealerships, Derry Project etc., are now going on YEARS of neglect, and no decision making. Someone needs to get serious in Menlo Park government, and make some decisions.


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 26, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Peter,

You should move to Menlo Park and run for city council. But I don't think you are insane. So that won't happen. John Boyle is the only Menlo Park city council member with a soupçon of practical experience and common sense. If we could get some other common sense people on the city council like Mary Gilles, Lou Deziel, and Frank Tucker, this city could be turned around for the better.

We must vote out the anachronistic and far left Slocum disciples, currently serving on the Menlo Park City Council, and bring in some accomplished people who actually believe in slow but responsible growth. What we have now are 4 irresponsible City Council members who use studies as a delay tactic to continue the urban blight we are now suffering. They prefer urban decay over any growth at all, no matter how beneficial that growth may be to the City.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 26, 2009 at 3:24 pm

When Hanks talks, his opponents gain votes.

Keep talking Hank. All day long...


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Posted by optimist
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 26, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Mary Gilles, Lou Deziel, and Frank Tucker. What an amazing add to council they would be! I hope they do run, and you too, Hank, so the good guys can keep winning.


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Posted by Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 27, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Stanford's mall is too big already. Add a little more to it and you've got a mini-city. Enough!


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