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Menlo Gateway -- Bohannon Towers project in the M2

Original post made by Morris Brown on Sep 11, 2009

In a Viewpoint article printed in the Sept 9th, Almanac this article appeared:

Bohannon project would generate much-needed funds for city coffers
By John Celedon

Menlo Park is facing unprecedented economic challenges as local revenues from sales, property and utility taxes decline. As a result, we must be proactive about finding solutions to maintain the quality of city services that we have come to expect.

So, what should we do?

First, we should continue to prudently manage the tax dollars that we do have. This year, the City Council has managed to balance the budget with minimal visible impact to city services, through deferred spending and dipping into the city's reserves. But, as City Manager Glen Rojas reminded the City Council recently, Menlo Park must adapt to the new economy by focusing on new revenue-generating business opportunities.

Secondly, we must increase tax revenue, and that is indeed a top priority. The only way to achieve this without placing a higher burden on city residents is to encourage and promote new economic ventures. One new venture has already opened. The Rosewood Hotel, near Sand Hill Road and Highway 280, is providing net new tax revenue to Menlo Park — as well as several hundred new jobs.

Another exciting opportunity is the Menlo Gateway office and hotel project, proposed by the Bohannon family, led by Menlo Park resident Dave Bohannon. Menlo Gateway would sit on the eastern outskirts of Menlo Park, re-developing existing underutilized industrial land east of Highway 101 near Marsh Road. The location is ideal for offices and hotels — next to major transportation corridors.

Clearly, it will provide net positive new tax revenue to Menlo Park in the coming years. The city's own fiscal analysis estimates a net positive inflow of $1.6 million annually. And clearly, it will provide new jobs. Approximately 1,900 jobs will be created during construction and 2,300 permanent jobs will be available once the project is complete.

The Menlo Gateway proposal is winding its way through the city review process and is scheduled for a final vote by the City Council in the spring of 2010. The Menlo Park City Council needs to make sure this project receives its full attention, advocacy and action. The proposed project can be viewed at www. menlogateway.com.

John Celedon is chair of the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee. He is writing on behalf of the committee.

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The view point piece published in the Almanac deserves a response. Mr. Celedon is the owner of Pruess Pharmacy on Santa Cruz. I understand he is not a Menlo Park resident. He clearly is a cheer leader for the Bohannon Towers project. He also clearly doesn't want to point out the many problems with this project.

We live in Menlo Park, not San Francisco. This project is a San Francisco type of project. 140 foot high towers, actually to be placed on a 15 acre site that will be raised 10 feet with fill. It lies east of 101 in the M2 light industrial area, an area close to sea level in altitude and which may well experience water table problems, if the predicted rise in sea levels indeed occur as related to climate change. So for a start you have, hydrology, and seismology issues.

These 140 foot high structures will shadow the enclosed 15 acres, which are owned by other interests. We are talking about a project that is around one million sq. feet of office and hotel, and an additional 824,000 sq. feet of above ground structured parking. We are talking about generating over an additional 10,000 trips per day.

The net jobs created of over 1800 will have a large composition of professionals, who will be well able to live in Menlo Park and will want to live here. They will have families and their children will go to our schools. Yet any school impact fees generated will not go to the Menlo Park School district, because this land in not in our district.

Yes, indeed there is predicted around 1.5 million revenue inflow from the project. Almost all that inflow is from the hotel, certainly not from the office buildings. When you compare the project to the Rosewood Hotel that just opened, you see an income generating hotel, but only associated with it 100,000 sq. feet of office, not the 700,000 sq. feet this developer is demanding.

Over-riding all of this is the new M3 zoning that is proposed. This zoning thus far is to only apply to these 15 acres that the Bohannon group owns. They own more than 50 additional acres in the M2 area. There is no plan as to how this whole area should be developed. This is really spot zoning --- it should not be approved. Is this new M3 zoning going to be the model for the rest of the M2?

Mr. Celedon writes, "The Menlo Park City Council needs to make sure this project receives its full attention, advocacy and action." Well, with a spot given to the project on the City's website, with the City sending out yellow cards under the City's logo announcing information meetings, really promotional meetings for the developer, I hardly think full attention has not been given.

The MP Planning commission meeting on Monday Sept. 14th, will take up looking at the DEIR for the project.

In Los Altos, there recently was a campaign title that is totally appropriate here. It was called simply TOO BIG.

The Bohannon Towers project being proposed here is WAY TOO BIG.

Morris Brown
Stone Pine Lane
MP



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