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Sidewalk re-opens at Watkins site

Original post made on Aug 24, 2010

Through heavy rains in winter and long dry days in summer, Menlo Park pedestrians waited for the sidewalk along El Camino Real near Watkins Avenue to become theirs again. On Aug. 23, it did.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 3:33 PM

Comments (17)

Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm

No matter how you look at it financial and construction operations mismanagement seem to be the keystone of Giurlani's 1906 project. One can only hope that he is not able to buy back the Gaylord site project which his group lost to the bank a while back.
And no matter how you cut it there is no excuse for the months long delay in finishing the sidewalk.
However just as culpable is the City of Menlo Park which is missing a planning approval policy which first a foremost protects the safety of its residence - such as the simple requirement of a protected safe passage on all construction and development projects fronting on a public right-of-way.


Posted by Morris Brown, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 24, 2010 at 7:04 pm

There was no excuse for what we as residents had to tolerate for the last couple of years.

Interesting that this is a 10 million dollar project. If the land was 3 million, that means construction of the 9852 square feet cost more than $700 / square foot to build. I think not.

The site is now being advertised for rent with a total square footage of 11,895 square feet at a rate of $4.95 / sq. ft NNN. Amazing how a developer can expand what is a 9825 dq foot structure into 11895, an expansion of 20%.

Units are also for sale at prices from 1.9 million to 2.6 million at about $775 / square foot.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 24, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Morris brown states:"The site is now being advertised for rent with a total square footage of 11,895 square feet at a rate of $4.95 / sq. ft NNN. Amazing how a developer can expand what is a 9825 dq foot structure into 11895, an expansion of 20%."

Was 9825 sq ft the approved building design? If so how did the final building end up with 11895 sq ft?


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:58 pm


There was approx 1900 sq ft which the Planning Dept excluded from the total sq ft figure during the permitting/use process. This allowed the developer to only install 49 parking spaces instead of the 59 which would have been required.


Posted by morris brown, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:00 pm

The project as approved was indeed at 9825 sq. feet. How a developer can expand that by 20% 11895 sq. feet is a question to which I don't have an answer.

The 11895 sq. foot number I got by simply doing a Google search on 1906 El Camino and saw several listings, both for rent and sale.

Perhaps Phil Giurlani, the project manager / investor can provide that answer.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 25, 2010 at 7:09 am

The sidewalk still isn't safe. They've got a piece of plywood just flopped over an unpoured section. Deffinate trip hazard.


Posted by Phil Giurlani, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 25, 2010 at 10:11 am

Morris and Peter,

The Gross Floor Area approved by the Planning Commission and upheld by the City Council was 9825 sf. The calculation did not include approximately 2000 sf of excluded floor area such as stair wells, elevator equipment rooms, utility rooms and open balconies. For more details you can refer to the Staff Report #07-126 page 6.

I will again provide my email address (phil@infinitipartners.us) and phone #(650-444-2358) for any questions or clarifications.


Posted by The new math, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:28 am

I wonder how the planning commission and council can exclude square footage that is apparently included when it comes time to rent or sell the property. This is an argument for an inclusive formula that multiplies height by length by depth. Obviously, every square foot takes up space, and since the developer is profiting from it, why pretend it doesn't count? A simple formula would also eliminate the game-playing that inevitably occurs when an excluded utility area suddenly morphs into rentable space.


Posted by Phil Giurlani, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:39 am

The definition of Gross FAR has been better codified since 1906 was approved. The argument for excluding non-occupiable space, in my opinion, is that it should not be counted toward parking requirements. Why require parking spaces for utility rooms and elevators?


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Gee Phil
Elevators as non-occupiable - I guess that means they will be kept in shut down as no one will be allowed to use/occupy them. Same argument for stairwells. I guess this means no one will be using the second story of your building Phil.

The bs factor used by developers is unbelievable.


Posted by Moe, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Bob, be sensible. Occupancy load calculations are a reasonable method to determine how much parking spaces may be needed for people visiting the Retail, office or living areas of a building. That does not and should not include spaces to get there or spaces required to support building functions (mechanical rooms, the gareage area, etc) However for calculating floor area ratios it is appropriate to include all enclosed areas and volumnes, hence a difference in total areas.
For Menlo voter I suggest a simple solution to your plywood problem. Keep your eyes open, look where you're going and stop complaining about nothing.
I hated that fence and am happy to see it gone.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm

No Moe (or should I say Phil?), the solution to the sidewalk problem is to either pour that section or fill it with compacted base rock to bring it to the same level as the concrete and tile. I hated the fence too and am also glad it's gone, but lets not trade one hazard for another. I've seen one or two blind people navigating that side of the street.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Moe - then why was the true parking requirement 59 spaces?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Paul states:"The definition of Gross FAR has been better codified since 1906 was approved. The argument for excluding non-occupiable space, in my opinion, is that it should not be counted toward parking requirements."

My only concern is that is this definition is being uniformly applied to all projects?


Posted by Phil Giurlani, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 25, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Peter, I know the new definition was strictly adhered to in the 1706 process.

Bob, I will answer for Moe (not an alias) regarding the parking. 1906 was approved using the City's Parking Reduction Policy which allows for parking reductions based on specific uses. In this case, medical/dental parking was reduced to 5 spaces/1000 sf.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:58 am

Phil, I don't know you from Adam (or Moe or Bob), but I just wanted to compliment you for patiently and openly weighing in and trying to answer this series of really ill-informed questions. Personally, I am quite familiar with the difference between usable and rentable s.f. in a commercial real estate deal, with FARs as they apply to and are affected by parking requirements, and the fact that as part of the final negotiation of a commercial lease, the issue of how much rentable s.f. is often on the table (thus making it common for a landlord to advertise at the max). All of which have nothing to do with the rules applied during the approval process to build the building. But mainly, I just wanted to acknowledge you willingness to engage/answer the critics. In my humble view-very impressive.


Posted by In Gratitude, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 26, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Thank you whoRUpeople for your kind gesture to acknowledge the developer's willingness to both explain these complex regulations and to make himself available to discuss these issues. The fact that this system allows anonymity creates wild and pointless comments. I have often wondered if some of these people wouldn't be pleased to destroy this developer? They seem to be out for blood.

Why are two defunct businesses and empty 50 year old buildings better than two new medical buildings? Why is blight better than positive transformation? One has to wonder if these people who continually complain have ever attempted a challenge to buy, borrow, design, get permits and construct a building?

Note: the Menlo Park council candidate to send packing is Chuck Bernstein. He will make these naysayers we are listening to now look like wimps. He wants nothing and he wants nothing for ever. And, if elected, he will force the city to do nothing, while we will listen to him on the dais talking ad nauseam. Be warned!


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