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.