Posted by Menlo resident, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm
It is important that whatever type of development will be permissable at that location should require sufficient underground and surface parking to accommodate the cars of its employees and clients.
Additionally, any parking on the El Camino front side should be eliminated. It is time to make serious efforts to obtain another lane along El Camino that would help alleviate the bottle neck that occurs along the two lane strip. Doin so would not eliminate many parking spaces (there are very few involved) but it would add to the safety and smoother flow of traffic. Pedestrians (not many of these either) would continue to use the existing sidewalk.
Posted by Jay Gertridge, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Dec 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm
Regarding the "dinosaur" reference by Sam Sinnott, as a youngster in the '60s I spent many a wonderful Saturday afternoon in the Park Theater. In the 80's I (and Sam) spent many a wonderful Friday & Saturday night in the BBC - but I don't remember him worrying about any earthquake hazard in that old brick building.
WhileI don't expect the building to be refurbished as a theater, the historic neon sign that used to grace the facade should be put back up. Just last month, I ran into my old, childhood friend, Sandy Crittenton, and he assured me that he still has the sign. Perhaps erecting the Park sign will once again proudly welcome out-of-towers into Menlo Park - before they realize the horrid bottleneck we provide them in our short stretch of El Camino Real.
Posted by Gary Lee Parks, a resident of another community, on Dec 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm
It is good to see some sort of plan moving ahead. It is also nice to know that the sign, which was removed early one Sunday morning soon after the theatre closed, is still in existence. Though I am a movie theatre architectural historian, I am perfectly and willingly aware that the Park's days as a movie theatre are clearly over. It would make no economic sense to have it be a theatre again. It could not survive in today's exhibition marketplace. I am hopeful though, that the facade and a relit sign can serve as a festive beacon to that stretch of El Camino, and as a Menlo Parks icon. I would not call the building a seismic hazard, though. It is a product of the late 1940s, when issues such as resistance to earthquakes were taken into account, with the structural technology available at the time. It is steel reinforced concrete, and the arched ribs of the auditorium structure make for a very sturdy framework. That said, it would not surprise me if a new development on the site would necessitate removal or drastic reconfiguration of parts of the original building. Again, I do hope that the facade can be refurbished. Trivia: I restored some of the etched glass in the theatre in the 1990s.
Posted by Susan Smith, a resident of the Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda neighborhood, on Dec 23, 2012 at 8:29 am
Every time I drive down El Camino past the Park Theater, I remember how magnificent the neon of the theater sign was, and what an important hallmark it was for Menlo Park....then the owners just ripped that sign off the face of the building, leaving us look at the fugly, for what? 10 years or so? Pure evil with a lack of any influence by the City of Menlo Park, or their building and planning units to correct this situation in a timely manner, to say the least. When the owners tore down that sign it changed th integrity of the neighborhood, which then started a long, downward spiral into unimportant, dark,ugly, with crummy parking prospects. I wonder if, in my lifetime, this neighborhood will ever recover into something more than 3 story "live-work' spaces which are springing up everywhere up and down El Camino Real. Very sad. Driving down El Camino in Menlo Park sucks.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community, on Dec 23, 2012 at 10:05 am
As I recall, the owner proposed several uses for the theatre building and the community went ballistic. They would only accept re-opening the building as a theater, like in the old days.
The owner only has to conform to zoning requirements to redevelop his property -- not the memories or strident dictates of a nostalgic group.
He is entitled to make money from his investment and the community is entitled to state their preferences and identify issues about a potential project that will require special actions (e.g. traffic) --- but the building was not a historic site and preservation wasn't required.
Perhaps the answer is to pay more attention to the Menlo Park Plan -- and go through the established process to protect historic buildings or cherished properties....plot by plot...and work with owners/developers so that there are acceptable properties to both interests and don't generate horrendous traffic problems.
But, going piecemeal + getting hysterical with every project proposal is one reason El Camino looks as awful as it does.
Posted by Familiar, a resident of another community, on Dec 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm
The P A R K sign is gone. I watched with sadness and sentiment as the workers ripped the sign off the building years ago and tossed the damaged crumpled bits into a dump truck. What I saw land in that truck would cost thousands to fix.
I was inside that building in recent years. It is a moldy, rotted tear-down inside and out. That building will never be a theater again. Too small to justify the expense. Just no parking or infrastructure to use the site that way. Made sense for Howard to wait for a more favorable political climate. Clear the ground and start over from scratch with building appropriate to the El Camino Vision plan.
The P A R K sign can be recreated somewhere else. If you want historical landmarks, I have always endorsed retuning a re-creation of the Menlo Park namesake gate to a featured location in town.