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Four office buildings, theater planned for downtown Palo Alto

Original post made on Sep 20, 2012

The city of Palo Alto and billionaire philanthropist John Arrillaga are pushing forward a sweeping development plan that would add a complex of four office towers, including one 10 stories in height, and a new theater to one of the most central areas of downtown.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 20, 2012, 11:47 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by more demand for housing, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Here's another example of a huge office project in the very area that housing advocates think housing ought to be. This project will add to the local and regional demand for housing that then will spill over to pressures on local communities to become much more dense than they want to be.
In the meantime, traffic will become ever worse as new offices bring more commuters. Don't kid yourself: the majority will not be taking public transit.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Another kvetcher! Anytime anything in Palo Alto is under consideration for being built, 99% of people in Palo Alto complain about traffic, and always complain about the construction of anything at all.

Posted by Margot Rawlins, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 21, 2012 at 8:04 am

As most high tech growth now seems to be occurring in San Francisco, it might be worth adding some housing people can affor to the plan in order to make it truly mixed use and encourage people to live near where they work and lure young people back down the Peninsula.

Posted by Sure, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 9:21 am

Let's just keep deluding ourselves. We can keep cramming more and more people and stuff into our streets and it will make our city more "vibrant," not more crowded. And 20-somethings will want to move here so they can live on the train tracks (maybe downtown Menlo Park will stop rolling up the sidewalks at 5 pm?). More is better and anyone who says otherwise is a NIMBY or worse.

Posted by Doug, a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:47 am

All of the tall buildings in Palo Alto -- which everybody has to look at because they are too big to be ignored -- are bad to execrably bad examples of modern architecture. The designs I see here are no improvement. Typical glass and steel sterility.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm

One caveat: the development can't rely on the existing narrow underpass for the amount of traffic that will be generated by any, even modest, new development; so, take this opportunity to suppress the existing tracks from past the border with Menlo Park to past the existing train station. Such a suppression of the tracks would limit noise, eliminate visual barriers between Stanford and downtown PA, and, with electrification of the new CalTrain, bring the area up to the level of almost every European city of any size. A win-win for all.

Posted by Marie Zahn, a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I foresee more and more traffic, more autos with no place to park in downtown Menlo Park, more and more control over our lives, and the hope to get us out of our cars and onto public transportation. I, fore one, do not believe folks will give up the convenience of driving themselves wherever they wish to go. Our own cars give us one of our precious freedoms, for which our young men and women in the armed forces at home and abroad are fighting for - among many others, of course.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2012 at 8:42 am

Why nou build a tram line from Sand Hill Rd and 280 following the planned route of the Willow Expressway to Facebook. Build up, dense or biild out, low density and build the Willow Expressway.

Posted by Sure, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 22, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Great idea! Let's resurrect the Willow Expressway! Let's destroy both Linfield Oaks, the Willows, and the Seminary neighborhoods so that we can accommodate greater development. Somebody is making money off this because it's sure not a benefit for the people who live here.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

Wouldn't want to see this ugly thing built but lets face since 1958 growth along the planned route took place. Even if smaller projects are built along this route, you will still add traffic on more traffic. Housing further away but yet more jobs, more workers all driving into what I will call the Willow corrider. Look how long it took Sand Hill Road to connect El Camino.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I hope that Palo Alto will find a way to save the MacArthur Park building -- it's a beautiful example of Julia Morgan's architectural talent, and part of the story of Palo Alto.

Perhaps some of the local SV billionaires will step up to the plate.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 24, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I think Julia Morgan was over rated. Everyone bows down because she was a female in male dominated world. It doesn't make her work particularly good. Historical, yes, good, meh.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2012 at 9:39 pm

MV - have you an opinion on the always hot Eichler debate? An opinion on the demolishment of the building at Edgewood Shopping Center? You know a lot more about that sort of thing than many folks.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 25, 2012 at 7:20 am


Eichler was good for what he was and for the times. The primary problem with Eichlers is the total lack of insulation. In addition, almost all of them were built with hydronic heat, which is great, except they used galvanized iron pipe. It eventually rusts out and leaks which is why you almost never find one with functioning hydronic heating. The glass usually wasn't tempered either. Typical for the times, but very dangerous. Overall, he built a half way decent house for a fair price. They weren't very attractive though.

I'm not familiar with the Edgewood shopping center.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

MV - I haven't been in an Eichler w/functioning hydronic heat in longer than I can remember. I do know friends in shared housing who were fine w/no heat when they moved in & come Nov., they weren't so happy. Yes, cheaply built places & that crappy glass! We have friends who owned 2 & sold the one they lived in recently. They don't miss it - they found a larger place which was better than dealing w/the hassle of adding on to their Eichler. They rent out the other & have to be very detailed w/maintenance.

If there's a lovely yard to look out into, Eichler's are great that way. But when the rapist was hitting Midtown some years back, friends in that area were scared going in & out of their homes due to the gates & courtyards they had to navigate in order to get from home to vehicle. That had me look at that type of design from a different pov - safety/security vs aethetics/convenience/lifestyle.

Edgewood Shopping Center is on Embarcadero just west of 101- where the Shell Station is & the former Lucky's/Albertson's - they're rebuilding it. This is the latest controversy about it: Web Link

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm

We usd to go to that place back in the early 70's when I was in the Sea Scouts. We got our food for our weekend meals on the boats. The place was a pit then and it hasn't gotten any better since then. The last time I went by there was about 8 years ago and it was pretty dumpy then. If they didn't do anything to it in the interem I can't see how it would be worth saving.

Historical preservationists tend to be blinded by their cause. Just because a building is old doesn't mean it's historical or worth saving.

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