Menlo Park: Roger Reynolds' carriage house is likely doomed


The carriage house on the former Roger Reynolds Nursery site at 133 Encinal Ave. in Menlo Park will likely face demolition when the nursery is razed to make way for construction of 24 condos.

Once an Edy's Ice Cream parlor before becoming part of Roger Reynolds nursery, the carriage house has stood there for about 66 years, according to Jim Lewis of the Menlo Park Historical Association.

Developer Deke Hunter said that he will give the carriage house to whoever will pay to move it off the lot before May. However, finding someone who will pay to move and retrofit the roughly 600-square-foot building, along with finding a place to put it, may be too big a challenge to meet within the specified deadline.

The consensus among city staff and council members, during a council discussion on the topic April 12, was that the cost to move and retrofit the building to code is prohibitively high, especially since the building does not meet the qualifications to be a "historical" building by state or federal standards.

The council voted 4-0 to not accept or relocate the building, with Councilman Ray Mueller absent.

Mr. Hunter had met with some ambivalence about the value of the carriage house from Menlo Park's Planning Commission last October. In the original plans considered by the commission, the carriage house was integrated into the designs as one of eight buildings that would be part of the condo development. However, in order to create more flexibility to lower the height of a proposed building that would face neighbors on Stone Pine Lane, the commission told developer Deke Hunter that the carriage house could be eliminated from the plans.

The City Council approved the revised plans in January, but asked what else could be done with the carriage house. Some council members suggested it could be a good home for the Menlo Park Historical Association, which is currently quartered in a tight basement office of the Menlo Park Library.

The president of the historical association, Jym Clendenin, said it wasn't much bigger than their existing space and they would still have to find a place to put the carriage house. Plus, he said, "it's not particularly historic and would take a fortune to bring up to code."

Community members Jim Lewis, Betty Meissner and Bill Weseloh spoke or emailed the council in favor of delaying the building's demolition and having further discussion on what could be done.

"This was a special place that served the needs in a variety of ways over the years for many members of our community," Mr. Lewis said.

While Mr. Lewis said he understood that construction wouldn't begin on-site until the third quarter of this year, City Manager Alex McIntyre said he understood that the lot was going to be sold at the beginning of May, and would have to be clear of all structures by then.

"I've tried to find someone ... to reach out and adopt this little place," said Councilwoman Catherine Carlton. She said that with a cost estimate of more than $300,000 to move and retrofit the building, not including the cost of land, she hasn't found anyone yet. She said she plans to contact Atherton to see if that town would be interested in the building.

Other logistical problems would arise if the city pursued the building's preservation. Justin Murphy, public works director, said there is no place on city land where the building could be stored. The city would also have to pay to protect the building while in storage, Mr. McIntyre said.

"We can't put money toward this without an idea," said Mayor Rich Cline.

There are still 30 days left for a private individual or group to claim the building, though. Councilwoman Carlton encouraged people to come forward if they are interested in the building.

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34 people like this
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 14, 2016 at 12:30 pm

We live very close by and have had regrets about the loss of the Roger Reynolds Nursery. It's the inevitability of urban change, we are told. The Carriage House is merely in the way of the developers' transformation that is taking place throughout Central Menlo Park.

Count me among those who have supported -- actively at one time -- the perpetuation of a "quality of life" described as living within a village-like, small suburban community. We are watching continuous developer pressure from without as well as within our city to change that small-town character into an ever greater high-density, higher-rise urban environment. "Vibrancy" has been the marketing calling-card canard of the promoters of growth, as we "Residentialists" are swept into the dust-bin of all NIMBY, traditionalist, stick-in-the mud antiquarians.

Whether the Carriage House is now transported elsewhere or demolished is no longer the issue. Like the soon to be terminated Fosters-Freeze stand on Oak Grove. Like the demolished Park Theater movie House on El Camino. They are now considered nothing more than obstacles to inevitable forced growth. "This is Progress. We must make room for the Future!"

Higher living costs, increased traffic, greater pressure on utilities and schools, more transient populations, and all the other undesirable by-products we are asked to endure -- those are a part of our Future! After all, we must accommodate those essential developer profits. Not to mention additions to the accomplishment-resumes of the ambitious members of our local Administration and City Council.

Yes, yes. I know what you're going to say. We've heard it all already, for decades.

14 people like this
Posted by The old Sage
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Could it be moved to Holbrook Palmer Park?
It served generations of family's and was an intrical part of growing up in Menlo Park & Atherton- just hate to see it go...

11 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 14, 2016 at 5:33 pm

C'mon everyone. Once you take away the sentimentality of your own memories of a place, and pull off the nice painted fretwork on the eaves, you're left with an old shed. We're getting all too precious or using this humble shack as the shibbolith for all the development ills that befall the Peninsula.

My kids will have the same nostalgic memories of their early years at Posh Bagel or Stacks Pancakes, as you might have of Edy's or Foster Freeze. But dare we slate those two junky commercial buildings for preservation 40 years from now? I hope not.

16 people like this
Posted by Judy
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 14, 2016 at 7:24 pm

While not overly attached to Reynolds as an historical site, I am greatly disturbed by increased housing. Developing has become over ambitious in Menlo Park. We're adding units without adding roads = serious traffic issues. One huge El Camino development is claiming that cars will not be added because the structure is bicycle friendly. Did I read that information correctly? When did lie-speak get approval in the city council? Sounds like serious pay-back strongly suggesting corruption somewhere in the process. Wonder where that could be.
Very concerned.

13 people like this
Posted by Stop the Madness
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 14, 2016 at 11:11 pm

@Martin Engel & @Judy — I couldn't begin to type "hear hear" enough times to show how strongly I agree with you. Something is seriously out of whack in Menlo Park, and getting more out of balance all the time.

7 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2016 at 8:32 am

So for those of you concerned that we're busy building housing, and even that it might be some form of conspiracy, I suggest you help the problem by doing several things:

Use more birth control so you stop adding to the population, tell your children that you'd be very happy not to have grandkids, take your money out of companies that create jobs in the Bay Area, and even start vandalizing cars in Menlo Park so that we get a bad reputation so people don't want to live here.

If all that doesn't work, then we have a growing population and we're obligated (both morally and legally) to try to accommodate more people.

11 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2016 at 12:57 pm

I am very concerned that MP residents are against building much needed housing. People cannot afford to live her as it is, even if you make what is considered a very good living anywhere else in the country. Menlo Park ceased to be a 'village' 40 or 50 years ago, yet these greedy homeowners stick to it. They would rather see their children and grandchildren move to more affordable parts of the state or country than build more housing that they can afford. This has been systematic in MP my whole life (I am 46). They also don't want to see their over inflated housing prices be challenged with new construction. Very sad that they people were able to take advantage of affordable housing and taxes and turn their backs on further generation. Typical Baby Boomers ME ME ME.

7 people like this
Posted by Low income person
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 15, 2016 at 2:12 pm

MPer, please tell me how adding more housing will ease housing costs? If you add 100 new houses tomorrow they'll either be snached up as investment property by people who live outside the US - - who won't even bother to occupy their new home, or by the wealthy who can afford the ridiculous real estate prices. Low and mid-income people, basically all the people who provide services (gardeners, restaruant workers, nail/hair salon, grocery store clerks, postal workers, etc...)will not be able to afford a home in Menlo Park. EVER!

People pay top dollar to live here because of the "village" like atmosphere - - it's what makes Menlo Park a desireable place to live.

4 people like this
Posted by Laurence Page
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Martin Engel has been pretty vocal about the fact that he lives in the Stone Pine area townhouses, so that's public info. The Stone Pine townhouses:

* Are denser than the 133 Encinal project, in terms of units per acre
* Were developed in the County, with zero control from the City of Menlo Park
* Didn't pay a cent to the City in terms of development impact fees
* Were a speculative development by a for-profit developer

Now a project comes along that's either the same or better, and Martin can't abide? I can't decide whether that's more selfish or illogical. Either way, you can understand why the "Residentialists" keep losing at the Menlo Park ballot box.

4 people like this
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Let's see if I understand what you are saying, Mr. Page:

1. l have been vocal about living in a Stone Pine Lane townhouse. It is public information.
2. There is greater density in these townhouses than the new project on Encinal. Therefore, the Encinal project is better.
3. Our townhouses were built in unincorporated SMC, and the city didn't control construction at that time (in 1970).
4. I didn't pay "a cent" to the city for development impact fees (in 1970).
5. Developers built these townhouses to make money.

These "facts" are intended as compelling evidence that counter my selfishness and illogic. What I have been saying is an explanation of why "Residentialists" keep losing at the ballot box.

Good job, Mr. Page. You've certainly convinced me of the error of my views.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

[Post removed; please be respectful of other posters.]

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


are you kidding me?

I pointed out Martin Engels hypocrisy and you censor that?...

What the hell?!

Are we able to point out the fallacies of false arguments or not. There was no disrespect. If my post wast was disrespectful then so was Mr. Engels'. It wasn't, by the way. Just as mine wasn't. Mr. Engel IS a hypocrite based upon his OWN statements. Seriously. do you need a dictionary?

Like this comment
Posted by Jim Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 22, 2016 at 9:27 am

I noticed the Carriage House is still on the Roger Reynolds property. Does that mean that there is still time to consider alternatives? Rather than tearing it down and hauling it to the landfill, perhaps it can be moved? If that is impractical, at a minimum, it would be great to save part of its contents. Perhaps a one last time ICE CREAM SOCIAL at the property, much like the last day at FOSTER FREEZE would be appropriate. The House is charming and for many "old timers", it carries fond memories.

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

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