El Camino office complex slated for completion in six weeks


Click on picture to enlarge.

By Sandy Brundage

Almanac Staff Writer

A new two-story, 9,852-square-foot medical and dental office complex at the former site of the Acorn restaurant should be finished in six weeks, according to Phil Giurlani, one of the project's managers.

That news could come as a relief to residents living near the site at 1906 El Camino Real and Watkins Avenue, as well as Mr. Giurlani himself. "No one wants this done more than me," he said.

Construction languished since winter, he said, due to heavy rainfall. "The high water table made the ground sloppy," he explained.

Residents wrote numerous e-mails to the Menlo Park City Council, demanding action be taken to correct what they view as a dangerous situation -- the cyclone fence surrounding the site forces pedestrians to travel in the roadway.

Don Barnby wrote several of those emails, and was unsatisfied with the city's response. "I'm appalled that the city's focus is on covering their tail," he said. "Covering their tail doesn't matter if someone gets killed. Everyone is just ducking and weaving and giving reasons."

He said the contractors have been equally unforthcoming. "Their sense of urgency is zero, as far as I can see."

A sign eventually went up, according to Mr. Barnby, that directed pedestrians to cross to the other side of El Camino Real -- which also lacks a sidewalk.

Mr. Giurlani said city code requires the fence. "We met with the contractor to see if there was a way of moving the fence back further, and there really wasn't. The pedestrian ramp is already exposed because people keep pushing [the fence back to get by." Adding a temporary sidewalk along El Camino is also impractical, he said, because of ongoing construction.

The project's financial status seems troubled. The San Mateo County Tax Collector's Office shows the property in default, with $12,361 owed in taxes since April. Mr. Giurlani stated that was not accurate. However, a representative at the county office said the database's payment information is current. Steve Lehn, chief financial officer of the Private Bank of the Peninsula, which is funding the construction, declined to comment.

The complex is also searching for tenants. "If you know anybody that needs a building, let me know," Mr. Giurlani said. "When we went into this, we had the buildings all sold. We don't have anybody right now, between the delays and the bad economy. But there is a lot of interest. Once the building's done and people can walk through, we'll ramp up the marketing."

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Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

The project has been sitting all week again with no work. And its not raining.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

I called the city manager's office re the fence with the complaint that drivers exiting Watkins can not see the oncoming traffic. I also called the the mayor and left a message, the streets dept and I believe I spoke to someone at the PD. The responses I received - ZERO! I guess I'll try CalOSHA next time.
There have been several major accidents at El Camino and Watkins over the past few years.
Since June there have been several Town Square threads about the problem with the cyclone fence - doesn't anyone on the city staff ever read the Almanac or the accident reports!
What the heck is it with our city politicians and employees?
We are in dire need of a much more responsive city council, administration and staff!

By the way, in general contractors and their construction subs who work on projects in MP whether residential or commercial couldn't care less about ignoring the regulations and common sense or courtesy. Several months ago the subs working on the burnt out store backing on to he Draeger's lot decided they could use the only handicapped spot for their generator.

Like this comment
Posted by Walker
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Knowing the way the city works peds will be sharing the lanes with the cars on El Camino for years while the downtown El Camino plan projects take place.

Like this comment
Posted by morris brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jul 2, 2010 at 5:16 am

Since I go by thee everyday, it seems that activity has indeed stopped again, after a little works was done for a few days.

Now Phil Phil Giurlani wrote 2 weeks ago, that the sidewalk would be completed in 6 to eight weeks. So at the outside limit, a deadline has been agreed that this must be done by August 15th. He now says 6 weeks so he agrees it must be open by August 15th.

If this work is not completed by then, the question is what will the City do? That is the big question. Is the City telling the developer what will happen if he doesn't do what he says he will?

Note, that this same group had the property at 1706 El Camino foreclosed upon some time ago, and thee are now for sales signs on that property, corner of El Camino and Buckthorne. (2 blocks away.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 2, 2010 at 7:24 am

It's interesting that they say they will be done in six weeks. It looks to me like, at most, they have two weeks work left.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Mr. Giurlani’s attention to the El Camino bldg may be a bit distracted as his primary job (according to LinkedIn) is Vice President of Marketing at AutoVino since 2008. AutoVino is a luxury car and wine storage facility in Menlo Park, CA. We offer car storage and concierge service, wine storage as well as wine club memberships in a secured, state of the art, 20,000 sf showroom, including a 2000 sf club area, racing simulators, cigar room, and wine bar.

One of his family members is a principal of AutoVino which charges $4K to $6K a year for car storage. So one would think that Phil could at least come up with enough money to finish the sidewalk along El Camino.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 2, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I say bring back the Acorn! This town needs more places where regulars can eat and drink.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Last week - no work done. So far this week - no work done, unless you count someone whacking the weeds. Rain - none. What's the excuse this time? When will this thing be done? At this rate it won't be six weeks, it will be six months!

Like this comment
Posted by Walker
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 8, 2010 at 11:47 am

Is a pedestrian going to have to be killed or maimed for the city to do something here? This is a health and safety issue. Isn't that a trigger for action?

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