Monday: Menlo Park Planning Commission talks public benefits


What should the city require the developers of a planned office building on Alma Street to provide in public benefits in exchange for exceeding the allowable building size?

The Menlo Park Planning Commission will discuss that question when it meets tonight (Monday, Nov. 2.

The proposed development by Lane Partners would first demolish existing buildings at 1010-1026 Alma St. - including Iberia Restaurant, Los Salonez and Cindy Nails Spa II. The developers plan to build a new, 25,156-square-foot, three-story office building with two levels of underground parking.

Thanks to provisions in the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan, developments over a certain size must provide some community benefits. In this case, the developers' proposal to build an additional 5,750 square feet of office space beyond the baseline level allowed in the city's plan means they will be required to pay for community benefits.

Lane Partners originally discussed those benefits with the Planning Commission last May. The commission will review the revised plans tonight to assess how its suggested changes have been incorporated into the proposal.

According to Menlo Park Associate Planner Jean Lin, there have been several changes in the public benefit bonus proposal.

Initially, Lane Partners proposed building a retail and cafe pavilion with outdoor seating and a one-time payment to the city of $180,212.

This time around, the firm has substantially increased one of the proposed public plazas from 970 square feet to 3,201 square feet to incorporate a heritage oak tree, and slightly decreased the proposed east public plaza from 870 square feet to 790 square feet.

The developer also expanded the proposed coffee pavilion from about 200 square feet to 324 square feet and added a restroom. The firm also made provisions to keep the pavilion open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends.

Two public electric vehicle charging stations and three public bicycle racks along Alma Street are also proposed. In addition, the one-time financial contribution to the city to cover below-market-rate fees increased from $180,212 to $185,816.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 701 Laurel St., in the Civic Center.

For more information, see the Planning Commission's meeting agenda and the staff report on the project (PDF).

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