Eric, Wendy Schmidt to move family ventures to new Menlo Park building

New office building has already been approved by Planning Commission

Eric and Wendy Schmidt of Atherton plan to build a three-story, 25,000 square-foot office building in Menlo Park to serve as headquarters for their family office and philanthropic operations.

Plans for the building were approved by the Menlo Park Planning Commission in November 2015. The two-thirds-acre site at 1010 Alma St., near Ravenswood Avenue, includes the former location of Iberia restaurant.

"Eric and I are delighted to bring our philanthropic and family office employees together in one building in Menlo Park," Wendy Schmidt, president of the Schmidt Family Foundation, said in a press release.

Eric Schmidt, a former CEO of Google, is board chairman of Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company.

Among the operations to move into the new building are the Schmidt family's investment management company, Hillspire LLC; the Schmidt Family Foundation; and the Schmidt Ocean Institute, a nonprofit that supports oceanographic research and technology development.

The Schmidt Family Foundation has a grant program focused on the environment and sustainable development, and funds the 11th Hour Project and ReMain Nantucket.

The new building, with a two-level underground parking garage, is being designed by BAR Architects to meet LEED Platinum environmental standards, according to Lane Partners, a real estate investment firm in Menlo Park, which worked with the city to get the development approved.

During its review of the project, the Planning Commission struggled to determine what the applicant would be required to provide in public benefits. Ultimately, the parties agreed to a public plaza and coffee kiosk.

The coffee vendor has not yet been determined, but both Blue Bottle and Zombie Runner (based in Palo Alto) were approached about the opportunity, according to Marcus Gilmour of Lane Partners.

Other amenities that will be available to the public are bicycle racks along the Alma Street frontage and electrical vehicle charging stations, according to Sares Regis Group of Northern California, the development manager. Vance Brown is general contractor and Brayton Hughes Design Studios is the interior designer.

Construction is expected to start this summer.

Green features intended to meet Net Zero energy goals and very low water use include roof-mounted photovoltaic cells, ultra-low flow water fixtures, and a heat-recovering system that uses no natural gas for heating and consumes no water for cooling, the Sares Regis Group said.

Editor's Note: A previous version of the story said the building was planned to be meet LEED Gold certification standards. It is now planned to reach LEED Platinum, a higher category of standards for green building, said Sares Regis Group.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


14 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 18, 2016 at 9:43 am

So why was the Schmidt ownership and purpose of the development kept secret?
Does the 501c3 status of the Schmidt Foundation exempt it from property taxes?
If so what are the loses to the city, our public schools and the fire district? Shouldn't there be a major charge to the project for its impact on the already horrendous traffic mess on the Ravenswood Ave corridor?

27 people like this
Posted by Not green
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 18, 2016 at 11:46 am

Why is it that uber rich people, who claim to be proponents of the environment, live in enormous houses and build large office buildings where smaller structures once stood. If they cared so much about the environment they'd live more modestly and not feel a need to build monuments to themselves.

Someone please explain to me how it's "green" to dig a giant pit in the earth so cars will have a nice place to park, when the building will stand just across from the train station? Why not encourage their employees to take the train? Shameful.

7 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardi�a
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 18, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardi�a is a registered user.

@Not Green

The number of parking spaces is MANDATED by Menlo Park. Trust me NOBODY wants to pay to dig a hole and make's required.

Roy Thiele-Sardina

2 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 18, 2016 at 12:30 pm

What no Starbucks? I'm sad. Best wishes to the Schmidts though.

25 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2016 at 12:35 pm

@Not Green:

The parking garage isn't just for employees, it's also for visitors and maintenance people. And not all of these people would find Caltrain a useful method to get to the building.

Do you think the cleaning lady is going to bring her mop, vacuum cleaner, and cleaning chemicals on Caltrain? How about the IT guy who wants to install a new router or telephone switch?

How about the person living in Woodside who needs to get to his/her desk?

And the new mother who drops off her kid at the daycare center before and after work?

Parking garages are useful for many people who run their lives differently than you do. Wake up to the fact that universe does not revolve around your dreamworld.

Like this comment
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 18, 2016 at 1:05 pm

I hope that the section of Alma in front of this building gets the best possible bike facilities as it is a key element in the planned north-south, Alma-Garwood bike corridor

21 people like this
Posted by Welcome to MP!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 18, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Welcome Schmidt Family!
Thank you for choosing our little town for your wonderful endeavor. Feel free to shop in our stores, eat at our 4 restaurants and tell all your friends how nice the people of Menlo Park have been to you.

4 people like this
Posted by Not green
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 18, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Roy and Reader:

Where in my comments did I write there should be NO parking??? I just questioned two levels of underground parking which doesn't seem very "green." There are several businesses on Alma Lane, including a two story office building, that provide ample street level parking. This new office building will a replace a popular restaurant, nail salon, two hair salons, a laundromat, and another business that never lacked ground level parking. I know this because I live close by and cut through the parking lot on my way downtown.

Like this comment
Posted by MPliving21
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 18, 2016 at 3:58 pm

@ Not Green

The city developed a downtown specific plan (which sets the standards for new development in downtown) over the course of several years with an incredible amount of input from residents. With this resident feedback, the plan requires that new office developments provide a minimum of 3.8 stalls/1000 SF. In this case a 25,000 SF office building requires 95 parking stalls. Again, this requirement comes from the city plan which was developed with resident input. In order to physically build 95 parking stalls I'm sure the developer had to go down two levels for the garage. If this building was in Palo Alto, Mountain View, or Redwood City I'm sure the parking requirement would be nowhere near this amount as they have more transit friendly parking standards. Be careful calling things "shameful" when you don't have all of the information.

5 people like this
Posted by Otto
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 18, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Hmmm. Funny that there was no mention of the corporate living arrangements on the top floor that I heard was rumored to be north of $10K/month for corporate rental only. No additional affordable housing with the build. Can someone expand on this who may be in the know? Why didnt they rent that building at the corner of Watkins and ECR that was vacant for a long time? I am sure the owner of the property made a pretty penny. SMH.

20 people like this
Posted by Not Green
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 18, 2016 at 5:03 pm

MPliving21, the Schmidts are building a three story office building for their family's non-profit tax write-off use with no public benefit except for a small coffee shop and a few bike racks. This building replaced shops that were within walking distance of the locals who frequented them. Sitting just behind this future office building is a street lined with apartment buildings. Why couldn't the Schmidts have built something in a more industrial area? Why near the downtown which already lacks vibrancy. What is needed in that space is something that benefits the community - like a nice cafe, shops, etc, or a mixed-use office building - available for lease - with retail on the ground floor. This spot is the wrong place for a three story building dedicated to one family. Yes, it's shameful. It's nice to hear that they care so much about Nantucket though.

13 people like this
Posted by Otto
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 18, 2016 at 5:13 pm

@ Not Green - 2 MPLiving21 -0

So why build something that requires 95 parking stalls in the first place that would benefit only one building? Why not a mixed use where there are boutique shops, restaurants, small businesses that define MP. Who cares what they do in PA, MV, RWC. Perhaps a mini version of T&C Menlo Park style.
Have you seen downtown RWC? Especially that uber ugly Box building. What a travesty.
Simply, money talks (taxes paid that is a write off for one family). BS walks. Period.

11 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2016 at 8:05 pm

pearl is a registered user.

What?!?! There aren't at least a couple of affordable housing units for seniors included in this building?!? Shame, shame, shame!!!

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

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

After 39 years of cakes and pastries, Palo Alto institution Prolific Oven to close
By Elena Kadvany | 52 comments | 14,800 views

What is your climate personality?
By Sherry Listgarten | 30 comments | 1,745 views

Eat Your Values – August 15
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 1,195 views

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Process Explained
By Steve Levy | 2 comments | 1,009 views

"You Gotta Have Balls [to do counseling] . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 622 views


Early Bird rates end Sunday!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families. Early Bird prices end Sun, Aug 18.

Register now