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Early reactions to Stanford's revised development plans for Menlo Park

 

Since Stanford submitted its revised proposal Sept. 28 to develop its 8.4-acre property along roughly half a mile of El Camino Real, stretching from the Stanford Park Hotel to Big 5 Sporting Goods, city officials and residents have been voicing their opinions about what this development could mean to Menlo Park.

In its latest proposal, Stanford plans to reduce office space, and increase housing and open space, including the size of a plaza near Middle Avenue.

Councilman Peter Ohtaki said he was pleased with the changes. Decreasing office space would help mitigate traffic, he said, while he noted that adding anything to the empty lots on the site would increase traffic to the already bottlenecked intersection at El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue.

"The Stanford project can take place as long as we fix that bottleneck," he said. "It will enhance the vitality and vibrancy downtown."

John Kadvany, who said he was speaking a private citizen and not in his role as a member of the Menlo Park Planning Commission, said the new proposal "looks like an improvement in terms of the plaza location, building design, scale and the mix of residential and office (space)."

He said he had continuing questions about the project and the streets it would affect, including: whether an additional crosswalk would be added at the street crossing at El Camino Real and Middle Avenue, how much Stanford will commit to supporting a pedestrian and bike tunnel under the tracks to the Civic Center, and whether land currently occupied by rarely used parking spots in the Big 5 Sporting Goods lot could be used for the development of the tunnel.

Former councilman Steve Schmidt said he noticed an absence of a pedestrian tunnel beneath Caltrain in the proposed plans, and said he thought that a tunnel at El Camino Real and Cambridge Avenue, instead of at El Camino Real and Middle Avenue, might be a more feasible option.

"The tenants of Stanford's housing should be able to access the city's park, library and Civic Center," he said. "Stanford should be willing to pay for the construction of the undercrossing."

The Almanac contacted other members of the Menlo Park City Council but has not received comments yet.

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