Menlo Gateway unveils plan for 250-room hotel in Menlo Park


The view from the Bayshore Freeway in Menlo Park may be about to change: Developer David Bohannon, hotel partner in hand at long last, plans to see Menlo Gateway up and running by 2018.

The plan is to build three office buildings -- still totaling 694,000 square feet -- three parking garages and one hotel on the 16 acres along Independence and Constitution drives.

But the project that will be presented to the City Council on March 10 has changed in some particulars from the version voters approved in 2010.

Mr. Bohannon's agreement with the city requires that construction of the hotel begin before he can build the office space. The current design concept shows a hotel of glass and light folded into sharp angles. With 250 rooms in an 11-story tower, this iteration has 20 more rooms than the original version, spread across 193,000 square feet.

Amenities include a restaurant, an outdoor pool with lounge, and a 40,000-square-foot fitness club that will be managed independently of the hotel. Meeting spaces -- 20,000 square feet created both indoors and outdoors -- round out the planned project.

Construction will attain, at a minimum, LEED Gold standards of "green" design, according to the developer.

Ensemble Hotel Partners, based in Long Beach, will manage the hotel, which will launch as part of Marriott's new "Autograph Collection" series of properties.

"All the hotels under the Autograph Collection are a brand of one," explained Brian Ehrlich, chief investment officer for Ensemble. The Menlo Gateway site will be customized through an independent branding exercise "to help to create a personality, a style, a design that celebrates Menlo Park," he said.

He estimated the hotel's construction cost as in the ballpark of $100 million, plus or minus 10 percent. Building would start the first quarter of 2016, with the hotel opening by early 2018.

Room rates will be in the range of $400 – "we hope to tag along with the Four Seasons, and probably drift and drag behind them by $20 to $30. The one big hole in the market in our perspective is outdoor function and meeting space, for corporate as well as social events. There really isn't a great place for that both indoors and especially outdoors," Mr. Ehrlich said.

The redesigned hotel is projected to deliver to the city about $3.1 million annually in transient occupancy tax revenue. That's about $1.2 million more than the version presented in 2010, according to Mr. Bohannon.

Bigger hotel but potentially less traffic than was earlier projected? Yes, thanks in part to a smaller fitness center. The developer's consultants estimated 10,777 new daily trips with the revised project; the original version was expected to generate 11,113. The environmental impact report done for the 2010 version should suffice for the updated plans, he said.

Mr. Bohannon hopes to achieve an urban, mixed-use village kind of feel, he said. "I want people to feel this is a very nice place to be, very inviting, frankly, for people who don't want to stay in the hotel, to come in for a meal."

His vision extends beyond the boundaries of the Menlo Gateway site -- he hopes to establish standards, such as 12- to 16-foot-wide sidewalks that Menlo Park will incorporate into the new zoning regulations the city is currently working on for the M2 district.

Bookended by Facebook and Menlo Gateway, the M2 industrial zone is undergoing a renaissance, with new apartment complexes, Facebook's ever-expanding number of campuses, and the opening of new incubator companies. The changes will impact the surrounding Belle Haven neighborhood -- something developers are taking into consideration.

"We're partnering with Facebook right now to improve Chilco Street. ... we agreed to design it and provide the design to the city," Mr. Bohannon said. They are still hashing out exactly what those improvements will look like.

Not a bubble

The news may surprise some in Menlo Park who were starting to wonder whether Menlo Gateway would ever break ground.

"I started the project in 2004, with a smaller, different type of hotel," Mr. Bohannon said. But that was before the recession killed investors' enthusiasm for new developments. That enthusiasm continued to lag, at least as far as luxury hotels were concerned, once the economy started to bounce back.

"There are very few four-star, full-service hotels being developed in this country," he said. "Asia is doing a lot."

The current superheated real estate climate, however, seems to be something different from a bubble, Mr. Bohannon said. He thinks there will be another cycle of ups and downs, but "we have institutional memory now." Banks as a result of being burned badly by the previous downturn are "very disciplined" when it comes to investing.

Even with the economic recovery that started about three to four years ago, Mr. Bohannon said, the upswing is still spreading across the United States. Investors first snapped up "broken assets," such as hotels that were financially underwater, before looking to build new projects, making something like Menlo Gateway a low priority.

"If you're someone like us, sitting on (a proposal) for a full-service hotel, it wasn't happening," Mr. Bohannon said. He could have gone smaller; people were calling to ask about doing a limited hotel, he said. But, he added, "While the city wanted this type of hotel, we also wanted it. I have been patient, waiting to bring forward the right type of hotel."

At a glance

■ 193,000-square-foot hotel with 250 rooms in an 11-story tower.

■ 694,000 square feet of office space, with two buildings on Constitution Drive and one on Independence Drive.

■ Both the hotel and office buildings will be under 140 feet high

■ 40,000-square-foot fitness center.

■ 2,689 parking spaces, including three parking garages.

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12 people like this
Posted by Frigal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 5, 2015 at 1:39 pm

Where's the water going to come from?

11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 5, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"11-story tower," and the City refused to require the developer to contribute to the cost of a new ladder truck to serve this area. Unbelievable!!

9 people like this
Posted by Samia
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 5, 2015 at 2:03 pm

More ugly, futuristic glass. Why not build something attractive like Rosewood Sand Hill?

4 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 5, 2015 at 4:40 pm

If I recall correctly, by passing measure T, 10% of the city's water allocation is committed to Bohannon's project. I would like to provide documentation for this but cannot find it as most information from the 2010 election is no longer available online. Another concern I have is as many as 1800 units of housing may be required to offset the number of employees who will be working in the three office buildings that are part of the development.

Web Link)

Those who vote are apparently fine with the amount of development in Menlo Park.

8 people like this
Posted by fumes
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 5, 2015 at 4:43 pm

How wonderful the oudoor space and gas-fumed air will be with 101 on one side and Marsh road on the other.

2 people like this
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 5, 2015 at 5:12 pm

I wonder if the hotel operator is aware of how divisive this project was? (Measure T) They might well be in for a surprise when the word gets around and the occupancy drops.

Like this comment
Posted by Iggy
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 5, 2015 at 8:33 pm

Hahaha, let's hope Bohannon gets a different architect than the Four Seasons used, then maybe his monster tower won't start tipping towards the bay

2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I wish to correct my above posting.

Upon further research I found that the Development Agreement requires a payment of up to $100k to the Fire District.

A new 100 ft aerial ladder truck of the type required to respond to the proposed 11 story hotel would cost about $1M.

4 people like this
Posted by Beau Theriault
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 8:18 am

Measure T was not "divisive" - Measure T was "super popular"! It passed 64.5% to 35.5%. That is a LANDSLIDE for this kind of initiative. It was divisive only for the Menlo Park NIMBY crowd that consistently tries to sabotage everything.

For the record, these were the opponents who were proud to lend their names to the feeble Measure T opposition in the election guide. How psyched are they now to have tried to prevent $3.1M in annual revenues?

/s/ Andrew Cohen, Councilman
/s/ Jack Morris, Former Mayor
/s/ Paul Collacchi, Principal Office & Treasurer
/s/ Charlie Bourne, Transportation Commissioner
/s/ Patti Fry, Former Planning Commission Chair
/s/ James R. (Jim) Madison, Community Volunteer
/s/ Calvin M. Jones, Former Mayor
/s/ Andrew Cohen, Council Member
/s/ Vincent Bressler, Planning Commissioner
/s/ Morris Brown, MP Resident

2 people like this
Posted by Stinky
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 6, 2015 at 9:33 am

Cool renderings

2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 6, 2015 at 10:01 am

@ Peter:

Ladder truck that can service 11 stories? This building will be Type 1B construction limited to 11 stories, so I think we'll be counting on robust construction and full sprinklers. Not sure if the $100K is for a ladder truck or for all the extra inspections that this building will need by the fire marshall.

3 people like this
Posted by Jason
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 6, 2015 at 1:09 pm

I look forward to all the jobs this hotel will create. It's too bad that they will mostly be minimum wage jobs. Where will those workers live and how will they commute? What provision is being made for them?

2 people like this
Posted by Ooops!
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Mayor Carlton's quote in the Merc:

"Menlo Park Mayor Catherine Carlton agreed, further noting that the city's schools can benefit greatly by the additional tax.

"It's always fabulous to support our schools," she said. "I'm delighted that the project is finally going to get built and [David] seems to be doing so in a way that is sensitive to the community's needs.""

Comment left online in the Merc:

"MP • 16 hours ago
Odd that the Mayor of Menlo Park (Ms. Carlton) is apparently ignorant of where the Menlo Park school boundaries are. If she (or the writer) bothers to check, you would find the Bohannon Towers development--and many of the Bohannon properties around the Marsh Road 101 intersection--are in the Redwood City Elementary School district. It is not in any of the several districts with any Menlo Park connections or K-8 students, and particularly not in either Menlo Park City School District nor the Ravenswood School District. Only the high school district (Sequoia Union) is shared in common.

Thus, I'm glad Ms. Carlton thinks what is really the Redwood City School district community that will peel off the majority of the school related property taxes with no offsetting student enrollment increase has been well served. Oops!"

4 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 4:22 pm

What happens to the wet lands? and the recreation area?

2 people like this
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Not divisive? This is exactly what I'm talking about . . .

"Measure T was not "divisive" - Measure T was "super popular"! It passed 64.5% to 35.5%. That is a LANDSLIDE for this kind of initiative. It was divisive only for the Menlo Park NIMBY crowd that consistently tries to sabotage everything."

No mention of how slick and expensive the pro-Measure T was. How quickly we forget.

This is soooo sad.

2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 7, 2015 at 8:09 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Not to mention measure T was passed during a major recession with everyone thinking they could get much needed immediate taxes for the city. What a farce.

4 people like this
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 7, 2015 at 9:57 am

The Bohannon Gateway project certainly was divisive. The only reason why Measure T was put on the ballot was because Bohannon feared he could not get the needed council votes for approval. Bohannon asked for (agreed to ) Measure T. He then poured almost $500K into getting it voter approved. There was really no organized opposition to Measure T, and since money talks, especially big money, it passed by a wide margin.

Thus even though there certainly was opposition to this project, leaders like Rich Cline, voted to approve even though he publicly stated the traffic would be "gad awful". So much for the quality of life in Menlo Park having any meaning.

The trend of sacrificing our quality of life here in exchange for "bigger, higher and denser" development has continued at a rampage pace to this day.

The opinion now shared by the whole council is, "bring in the dollars", regardless of the nature of the project.

Thus the latest example is the proposed hotel on the vacant "Shell station" lot. A project that will be as high as the Schwab building in "downtown" Menlo Park, but which is placed next to 1 and 2 story present buildings and the beginning of the residential area. The project is under parked, and the developer has the chutzpah to ask the city for $1 million reduction in TOT revenue so he can move forward. Yet thus far, it seems our present council and certainly our present City Manager and City staff are lauding the project. (more city income, more city employees and higher wages to follow.

2 people like this
Posted by lessons learned
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 7, 2015 at 4:25 pm

lessons learned is a registered user.

Our mayor lives in Sharon Heights. Whatever may happen on the east side of town will not inconvenience her personally in the least, and if she can milk some political capital from it, so much the better. I also agree with the above assessment of Measure T. When one side has deep pockets and can pour essentially unlimited amounts of money into flashy literature and campaigning, it can easily squash an all-volunteer opposition with no funds. We saw the same with Measure M. Whether or not our city needs this level of intense development, or whether the development will benefit the city at all, is seemingly irrelevant. By the time we're all feeling the pain, the proponents will have moved on to their next big conquest.

6 people like this
Posted by old timers
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 8, 2015 at 8:08 am

The comments by "lessons learned" above are right on.

With Measure M, not only was big developer money involved, you have the City itself mounting an illegal opposition campaign, spending $165,000 on the Wise report, funding Malcolm Smith and his activities and having staff time spent with commission members and Council members (all denied) to hone their message against Measure M. Yet the full council allowed their photos and words to be used in campaign literature against a citizens sponsored initiative. Thoroughly disgusting, but that is what indeed took place.

This month, I believe, Council can renew or fire the City Manager. He should be fired outright for his obvious involvement in stopping Measure M. He is a disaster, yet I strongly suspect this Council will not only renew his contract, but give him a raise.

Eventually this will all end. It may take a recall of the full council, but it will all end.

7 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2015 at 8:19 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

The Anti development group within Menlo Park has been TWICE defeated (Measure T & Measure M) because they are a SMALL minority. Note that most of the signatures on the Anti-Measure T ballot also appeared n or supported the Measure M initiative.....

Sooner or later they will realize that their dream of quaint, and small is LONG gone and vibrancy will make Menlo Park move into the next century (from the 18th in which they wanted it to stay).

Opposing them has unfortunately cost many of us months of hard work, and in each case they have not only lost at the polls but lost big. All that time, effort and money is wasted because they are selfish and unrelenting. Quite frankly Patti, Morris, Andy, Paul and their brethren would probably be best served by moving to somewhere quaint in Northern-most CA and leaving the plurality of Menlo Park to living the lives we've chosen.

I for one commend David Bohannon for having the vision and fortitude to fight these NIMBY residents, and thank him for his MANY contributions to the city.

Roy Thiele-Sardina

Like this comment
Posted by not a minority
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 8, 2015 at 6:30 pm

I proudly supported both Measure T and Measure M, not because I was against revenue to the city but because there were - and still are - serious flaws in the projects coming forward. The Bohannon project adds considerable jobs to Menlo Park and the area but was not required to add a single unit of housing. Bohannon owns property on which housing could be built, but the Council and community thought that revenue and jobs were coming right away and were afraid to negotiate.

The Stanford and Greenheart projects similarly add far more jobs than housing, and neither adds the kind of commercial development that provides sales tax revenue.

People vote for and against initiatives for a variety of reasons. I know of many friends who supported fixing the Specific Plan but just didn't think M was the way to do it. Now Roy and the Council seem to think nothing needs to be done. Wrong! And I am confident I am not in the minority about that.

We as a community cannot afford to continue building projects that don't provide appropriate jobs/housing balance and don't contribute to improving our infrastructure.

4 people like this
Posted by What?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2015 at 7:56 pm

"Now Roy and the Council thinks nothing need to be done."

The Council has scheduled both a Public Benefit review and a Specific Plan review this year. The Public Benefit review has been schedule in April.

2 people like this
Posted by Richard Vaughan
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2015 at 8:26 pm

Living in Redwood City's Friendly Acres neighborhood, I can see many plusses but also many minuses.
The biggest minus is going to be the abysmal gridlock that will occur more and more frequently on 84 extending up onto Marsh. What is the plan to mitigate this?
The biggest plus is going to be for the Redwood City businesses at Marsh Manor. Go Freewheel!
Another big plus will be the property taxes for Menlo Park but if they are high enough to raise the Redwood City School District to Basic Aide status, then I believe a portion of those taxes would go directly to RWC not MPCSD (please correct me if I'm wrong)
As for travel to downtown Menlo Park vs Redwood City or Palo Alto for an evenning of entertainment- let's compare:
nice dinner : RWC, MP & PA
movies - RWC & PA &MP (but only one cinema)
live music - RWC & PA
theatre - RWC & PA (M-A on occasion but nothing consistent)
dancing - RWC & PA
public art - PA (what ever happened to MP's Art Commission after the mass resignation?)

So here's a big minus, I seriously doubt that this project is going to help downtown MP. Given the proximity to the freeway, I'd go somewhere else if I was only in town for a day or two...

As to traffic, I would like to make the suggestion that a transit corridor be considered as a set aside for a future light rail spur that might tie into the Facebook campus and Dumbarton Rail project. Menlo Park should also be looking into shuttles to this area or seeing how Samtrans can extend a line from the Menlo Park train station directly into the Facebook campus and Haven Ave. Right now, there isn't anything convenient or practical.

Menlo Park working in cooperation with Bohannon has the chance to create something unique and of lasting value to the community. This will last for at least 50 years. Do it right the first time. Please.....

4 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 8, 2015 at 9:37 pm

It easy to dump on NIMBYs when the project is not located in your backyard.

I was most surprised from reading the comments that our mayor apparently doesn't know which projects fund our schools and which don't. Embarrassing...

2 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2015 at 11:29 pm

It is very sad that our City Council has apparently never met a developer they did not like, or any development they did not wholeheartedly approve -- no matter how poor an idea any development is because there is not enough water for more people and because our roads are already gridlocked for too many hours each day.

Folks -- our infrastructure is already over capacity. We do not need more development.

There. Is. Not. Enough. Water.

Minor question: I wonder how all those wealthy people who will use this new hotel will feel and what they will think when they find out they cannot get to important meetings or entertainment on time -- because of the horrible traffic jams that are all too common on most of our major roads?

And this hotel is extremely ugly.

It is frightening to think of how very hard it often is right now for emergency vehicles to get quickly to places where they are desperately needed -- and this is before any of these ill-considered developments -- such as this huge hotel -- have been built and occupied.

I am reminded of what Princess Leia said to Han Solo in "Star Wars": "If money is all you want, then money is all you will get!"

1 person likes this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 9, 2015 at 3:50 pm

This project is good for the City financially and what the people want. Most of us are tired of a vocal minority stifling our city's renewal. Lest we forget the entire City was built by developers and now most of their work is beloved.

Cafe Borrone and Menlo Center went through a bloody battle of approval with many of the same development haters predicting the apocalypse.

Roy Sardina is right- maybe the people who keep adding unnecessary cost to the inevitable evolution of our City should move. They are clearly unwilling to compromise or add anything constructive to the discourse.

Like this comment
Posted by schools
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 9, 2015 at 4:39 pm

There are three elementary school districts that serve the City of Menlo Park: Las Lomitas, Menlo Park and Ravenswood. Based on the location of this project, the Ravenswood Elementary School Districts and Sequoia High School District would benefit. Redwood City Elementary is unaffected (see Planning Commission transcript from April 9, 2010). Mayor Carlton was correct.

Like this comment
Posted by facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm

Let's get the facts straight!
The school impacts are described on page 54 of the Final Financial Impact Report dated March 2010. See

It states " neither the Redwood City nor Ravenswood City school districts would receive additional operating revenues..." The Menlo Park City School District would not, either, unless it changed its boundaries.
The Sequoia High School District would, however, receive a portion of the property taxes from the project.

On page 18 is a range of potential sales tax revenue. None of the 695K SF of offices are required to provide any business-to-business revenue to the city.
The value of the project is the Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT). The bulk of the project brings traffic.

Like this comment
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 9, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Ravenswood School District is in the city of East Palo Alto. Eight of the ten district schools are located there. Two district schools are located in Menlo Park. Most of the money will benefit students in cities other than Menlo Park...which is fine but I believe you ("Schools") and the mayor stand corrected. Sequoia High School District will, I believe, benefit a little financially but at least half of the students in that district are not residents of Menlo Park and none of the district schools are in the city of Menlo Park.

Like this comment
Posted by FriendlyAcresNeighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Richard Vaughan-Did you know that Friendly Acres has an active Neighborhood Association? We'd love to have neighbors like you who are obviously aware and interested come to our monthly meetings. If you'd like to get no obligation notifications, please send your email address to

Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 12, 2015 at 9:32 pm

Can someone translate this for me?

"All the hotels under the Autograph Collection are a brand of one ... [The Menlo Gateway site will be customized through an independent branding exercise] to help to create a personality, a style, a design that celebrates Menlo Park."

Like this comment
Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 13, 2015 at 4:51 am


Each hotel in the Autograph Collection is unique.

Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 13, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Why is this taking so long?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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