News

Greenheart to offer free Caltrain passes to residents, workers at its new complex

If Greenheart Land Co. gets city approval to build a 420,000-square-foot office and housing complex on El Camino Real in Menlo Park, residents and employees there can expect to receive free, unlimited Caltrain passes, the company says on a new website, station1300.com.

The complex would be built at 1300 El Camino Real between the Residence Inn hotel and Oak Grove Avenue, about a block from the Caltrain station.

All residents and employees at the complex, which Greenheart is calling Station 1300, will receive free, unlimited Caltrain passes, according to the website.

Greenheart says the office buildings will be constructed to operate on "net zero energy," meaning they will create as much energy as they use. The buildings would have solar panels and a cooling and heating system using recirculated water, the website says.

The website was created in advance of the release of the project's environmental review document, expected later this month, said Steve Pierce, principal at Greenheart Land Co.

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Renderings and more information about the proposed complex are on the website. Greenheart proposes to build 182 rental apartments (10 are planned to be below market rate), between 188,900 and 199,300 square feet of office space, and between 18,600 square feet to 29,000 square feet of space for "community serving businesses," such as retail, restaurants, or personal services.

The website has a petition that visitors can sign and comment on.

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Greenheart to offer free Caltrain passes to residents, workers at its new complex

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 9:59 am

If Greenheart Land Co. gets city approval to build a 420,000-square-foot office and housing complex on El Camino Real in Menlo Park, residents and employees there can expect to receive free, unlimited Caltrain passes, the company says on a new website, station1300.com.

The complex would be built at 1300 El Camino Real between the Residence Inn hotel and Oak Grove Avenue, about a block from the Caltrain station.

All residents and employees at the complex, which Greenheart is calling Station 1300, will receive free, unlimited Caltrain passes, according to the website.

Greenheart says the office buildings will be constructed to operate on "net zero energy," meaning they will create as much energy as they use. The buildings would have solar panels and a cooling and heating system using recirculated water, the website says.

The website was created in advance of the release of the project's environmental review document, expected later this month, said Steve Pierce, principal at Greenheart Land Co.

Renderings and more information about the proposed complex are on the website. Greenheart proposes to build 182 rental apartments (10 are planned to be below market rate), between 188,900 and 199,300 square feet of office space, and between 18,600 square feet to 29,000 square feet of space for "community serving businesses," such as retail, restaurants, or personal services.

The website has a petition that visitors can sign and comment on.

Comments

Vincent Bressler
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2016 at 12:31 pm
Vincent Bressler, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2016 at 12:31 pm
5 people like this

This is a press release for Greenheart, not a story.


Enuff
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 17, 2016 at 12:48 pm
Enuff, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 17, 2016 at 12:48 pm
4 people like this

Why would Greenheart have to bribe the city by offering free Caltrain passes?
Of course the free passes do not ensure that people won't drive anyway. But more to the point, what would the effect of one more humongous office park/housing project have on our city's tranquil, suburban character?
How many towering buildings do we have to endure since our City Council passed the disastrous Downtown Specific high-density zoning plan?
Think about the impact on our already crowded schools. Think about neighborhood safety. Think about why you came to Menlo Park in the first place.
Those who want high-density urban turmoil can find it in cities like San Jose. Why bring San Jose to Menlo Park?


whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 1:21 pm
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 1:21 pm
2 people like this

Free CalTrain passes. Yeah, right. And I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.
They will just set the rent to cover the passes. Of course our council an planning commission love being taken in by developer scams and empty promises.


Beth
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 1:27 pm
Beth, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 1:27 pm
6 people like this

Is it possible for Menlo Park to say "No" to any developer? With the latest Sand Hill plan for the large EPA apartment building, are our politicos serving the MP people who live here? Oh, maybe that premise is what I've had wrong.

But really, passes - that's too obvious and serves MP folks not a bit. But it does others.


What is the Almanac
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm
What is the Almanac, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm
6 people like this

A local newspaper that communicates information to the public? Or the PR arm of developers? I'd like to know how you see yourselves.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 17, 2016 at 2:55 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2016 at 2:55 pm
26 people like this

Stanford has proven that free CalTrain passes reduce automobile traffic.

Web Link

Why are all the above posters so hostile to facts and to developers who are trying hard to make a positive difference?


mary
Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 17, 2016 at 3:29 pm
mary, Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 17, 2016 at 3:29 pm
11 people like this

i continually wonder where all the water that will be consumed by the new residents is supposed to come from? really, let's use some common sense. . 5000 units in redwood cityAU, solid apartments from palo alto to mountain view and more going up daily. i'm on water rationing which i understand but all of this construction is only going to make the situation worse. i understand that the people of menlo park voted not to control growth...but it impacts all of us who live in the area.


Vincent Bressler
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2016 at 6:39 pm
Vincent Bressler, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2016 at 6:39 pm
7 people like this

This project, along with the Stanford project are the two big ones in the specific plan area (so far). This project would probably have already happened if not for the public outcry over the Stanford project.

Traffic will be a huge issue here since the project is smack in the middle of the most congested streets in town. The city needs some assurance that traffic limits into and out of the Greenheart project will be enforced. We have such an agreement with Facebook already.

Sounds like the developer is aware that this will be an issue.


What is the Almanac
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 10:19 pm
What is the Almanac, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 10:19 pm
8 people like this

Peter, speaking as a former Stanford employee, there is no comparison between Stanford and the startups that Greenheart is expecting to house. Most jobs at Stanford are performed during regular work hours. You can roll in at 9 and leave around 5ish and everyone's happy. That meshes well with Caltrain's schedule.

Startup employees do not work those kinds of hours, and if they have to stay past 7 pm -- not unusual for a startup -- the employees will find themselves waiting for a train that runs only about once an hour and then takes 59 minutes to get to San Francisco. Nope, Caltrain is not a good fit for the startup life...but offering free passes makes for good soundbites


Apple
Atherton: other
on Feb 18, 2016 at 12:59 am
Apple, Atherton: other
on Feb 18, 2016 at 12:59 am
2 people like this

@What is the Almanac

If startup employees leave past 7 PM, they would miss rush hour, meaning they wouldn't be contributing to rush hour congestion. They would probably get an Uber if they're in a rush to get home, but at least they came to the office on Caltrain.

In any case, I doubt any startups could lease these offices. This is Class A+ office space. Tenants must pay high prices, sign long term leases, and have strong credit backing in case they can't fulfill their lease and have to pay a penalty. I don't know any startups that fit this profile.


Menloshopper
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 18, 2016 at 10:01 am
Menloshopper, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 18, 2016 at 10:01 am
2 people like this

Most important for the Greenheart project is that its size requires a public benefit negotiation starting with the Planning Commission, with commissioners relying on a financial estimate of the additional value (i.e. profitability) created by building at this scale. That estimate will factor in underground parking (more expensive than at grade) and other significant costs for this particular design. That process has been carried out by the PC for a much smaller project on Alma for which the benefit package (coffee kiosk + improved public space + cash) was valued at more than 50% of the additional profit attributable to a larger building. General Plan discussions have also included public benefit targets in that percentage range. Greenheart's project includes a good deal of retail which is not required by the Specific Plan, along with rental housing (vs. condos). Whether the retail and rental, along with net zero energy buildings, should count significantly toward public benefit will likely be debated. In any case, the size of this project may take its public benefit negotiation into a high dollar/value range, possibly millions.


really?
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 18, 2016 at 10:14 am
really?, Menlo Park: other
on Feb 18, 2016 at 10:14 am
2 people like this

If Greenheart increased their structured parking and offered a percentage of it as permanently public, that should be considered a big chunk of public benefit. Cash just seems to buy more overpriced City staff


What is the Almanac
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2016 at 10:46 am
What is the Almanac, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2016 at 10:46 am
2 people like this

Greenheart sold this plan to the council as an "incubator village" -- a haven for tech startups, where entrepreneurs would work and live in one place. That was the concept that excited certain council members and ensured their support of the project. Sounds as though plans may have changed, but you wouldn't know from the article.

I can't imagine that most employees, even if they take the train to work, want to Uber back to San Francisco every night. Nope, Greenheart is making a big deal out of free passees, mliking the positive publicity, but that offer will quietly fade away, just as the incubator village has.


MPer
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2016 at 11:53 am
MPer , Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2016 at 11:53 am
5 people like this

these comments are what I would expect form the people of Menlo Park.

It is the typical - development is bad, developers are greedy, evil liars. We want people to use transit, but s*(t all over green hart for encouraging it. But we still want new bike lanes and sidewalks and other things. And it is OK that we sell our homes for 10x-30x what we paid for them. It's the developers that are greedy not us. Of course they also don't want any new housing in MP in order to keep house prices high - that's not evil or greedy ;).


What is the Almanac
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2016 at 12:48 pm
What is the Almanac, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2016 at 12:48 pm
Like this comment

[Part removed. Please make your point without negative characterization of another poster.]

No one has said that development is bad. Clearly, much of El Camino needs development/redevelopment. But development that impairs the quality of life for everyone else so that only the developer can profit is not viable.

Greenheart originally claimed they were adding housing, but Greenheart is going to want to do whatever makes them the most money. They could not care less what the community needs (and some of us might argue that our community does not need more office space, especially not with all the projects in the works already.)

Fortunately for Menlo Park, the developer doesn't get to call all the shots. The process requires community input and public benefit. When the development occurs, and it will, the developer will have incorporated those inputs and benefits.

[part removed] ... you should be happy to know that your interests are being protected. In the meantime, how about trying not to smear your neighbors when you express your views?


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 18, 2016 at 2:19 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2016 at 2:19 pm
Like this comment

"Greenheart originally claimed they were adding housing, but Greenheart is going to want to do whatever makes them the most money."

Wouldn't you? If you are in business you are there to maximize your profit. That's what every business does. That's how capitalism works. If developers don't make a profit they don't develop. Then nothing gets done. You even agree that development along ECR is necessary. If the developers can't make a profit they are going to go somewhere they can. Then we can spend another 10 to 20 years looking at blight.


Gern
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 18, 2016 at 2:40 pm
Gern, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 18, 2016 at 2:40 pm
2 people like this

I find it odd -- troubling, even -- that the centerpiece of Menlo Park's nascent Bike Boulevard program, Oak Grove Avenue (Web Link), may also be a major conduit for automobile traffic to and from the mass of proposed Greenheart offices.

Gern


What is the Almanac
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm
What is the Almanac, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm
2 people like this

Developers should be seeking to maximize profits. Absolutely. But it is the job of the council to push back and say "what's in it for the city?"

(There are fear mongerers who try to intimidate the public by saying "if we don't give the developers everything they ask for, they'll abandon Menlo Park and it will become a wasteland." Some people fall for these tactics, but our council should be immune to them.)

Developers can and will make a profit. We are at the epicenter of a hot market, and even if they have to adjust their plans to accommodate public benefits, developers are not going to be standing in a soup line. But it's not our city's job to maximize private profits at the expense of the public wellbeing. It's an iterative process that, if allowed to proceed unhampered by propaganda, can wind up as a win-win-win.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm
Like this comment

Please recognize that when the demands for public benefits become both economically infeasible and politically difficult that any developer has the option to simply max out under the Specific Plan and not seek any public benefit increases.

So be very careful what you demand.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Feb 18, 2016 at 5:08 pm
Apple, Atherton: other
on Feb 18, 2016 at 5:08 pm
5 people like this

Does the public really want 100% housing in the ECR empty lots? Stanford has some ten story housing towers proposals and the Palo Alto community is complaining about traffic, school crowding, utility usage, etc.

If you build just office space, there won't be school crowding, but there will be traffic.

If you build retail. school crowding isn't there, but you will have traffic, during non-business hours.

People don't like the current empty lot that makes the city look blighted.

The city could eminent domain the land and make it park space, but that would require a big tax increase to pay for market value. People wouldn't like that.

Well, if you look at the current proposal, that's what we got: all of the above. It's a mix of residential, office, retail, and park space that eliminates the blighted look.


More housing = less traffic
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 8:13 pm
More housing = less traffic, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 8:13 pm
Like this comment

More housing would mean less traffic. There should be no fear mongering about school impacts. The impact of more housing on schools was anticipated and projected by the downtown plan. The plan has limits on the amount of housing units. This project, even with more housing , would provide fewer than the plan maximum.

Btw There is no promise of retail by greenheart.


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