A proposal to build a three-story building with four condos, office space and a small retail area at the former site of the Park Theatre at 1275 El Camino Real was approved unanimously by the Menlo Park Planning Commission on Monday, Sept. 12.
The Park Theater closed in 2002.
Owner Erik Corrigan of 1275 LLC proposed to build 589 square feet of commercial space (retail or cafe) on the first floor, 9,066 square feet of non-medical office space on the second floor, and three residential units totaling 6,893 square feet on the third floor.
The residences would include two three-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit. The non-medical office space would occupy the entire second floor. A heritage coast live oak tree located near the middle of the rear property line would be removed.
Members of the Planning Commission raised concerns that the roughly 600-square-foot retail space would be too small to attract a retail operator, and that there was not sufficient screening on the rear of the building to protect the privacy of Hoover Street residents on the other side.
Mr. Corrigan said that he owns retail spaces of a similar size in Los Altos that run successful businesses with that small amount of square-footage. Although no tenant is selected yet, he said, the site could operate as a small cafe or bookshop. City zoning also permits the site to be used for personal services, such as a beauty salon, staff said.
If the site is leased out to a cafe, the permit would also allow for outdoor seating, according to the staff report.
A resident living on Hoover Street said he had privacy concerns about the condominiums that would be on the third story of the building, as it might overlook his property. Several commissioners asked Mr. Corrigan and the architect from Hayes Group Architecture to provide further screening at the rear of the building, which the owner and architect agreed to pursue.
"I think this is what the specific plan called for," Planning Commission Chair Katherine Strehl said. "It's in keeping with what community said it wanted."