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Menlo council satisfied with Bohannon deal

 

Menlo Park's City Council won't be sending city negotiators back to the table with the Bohannon Development Co. on the Menlo Gateway office/hotel project, and is likely to vote on the project in June.

The council spent more than four hours hearing from the public on the project at its meeting Tuesday, April 6, and deliberating over the outline of a development agreement. The developer agreed to provide revenue guarantees and other concessions in exchange for major zoning changes that would make way for a 230-room hotel and three eight-story office buildings near Marsh Road and Bayfront Expressway.

Council members circled around the question of whether the city's negotiators had gotten enough out of the Bohannon company, given the extraordinary nature of the zoning changes, which would increase allowable building height from 25 feet to 140. There was general consensus that they had.

"I don't think there are extra millions here," said Councilman Heyward Robinson. "I think that's one of my take-aways."

About 20 people spoke in favor of the project at the meeting, urging the council to approve it. Several people, including Paul Collacchi, Patti Fry and Elias Blawie, questioned the city's financial analysis, and urged the council to think carefully about the terms.

"I think this needs more work and time," Mr. Blawie said. "The public benefits do not pass the smell test."

Based on direction from the council, the city will continue to fine-tune the agreement in concert with the developer, as the project makes its way through the state-mandated approval process. A pair of Planning Commission meetings will be followed by two public hearings before the City Council, the final one scheduled for June 15.

The next meeting on the project will be a public hearing before the commission on Monday, April 19.

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