In the eleventh hour, Stanford University and negotiators from the Menlo Park City Council have reached an agreement on what the university should provide to local schools as part of a development agreement for its proposed 429,000-square-foot housing, office and retail complex along El Camino Real.
The City Council could approve the complex tonight (Sept. 26) after a public hearing.
The university has committed to pay a lump sum of $1.5 million to the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation, which supports the Menlo Park City School District. The funds would be provided one year after the last building permit is issued for the housing and office buildings and put into a foundation endowment.
The provision for the local schools is tied to the fact that Stanford plans to rent the 215 apartments to university faculty and staff, which means the university won't pay property taxes on the apartments. But children living in the apartments may go to the district's schools, which depend on property taxes for their operation. Stanford officials have pointed out that the development will generate taxes on its for-profit office buildings, which the university plans to lease to commercial tenants.
The university has also committed to pay for half the cost up to $5 million of a bicycle and pedestrian crossing over or under the Caltrain tracks at Middle Avenue. The maximum could be adjusted to reflect increases in the engineering cost index.
If the bicycle and pedestrian crossing costs less than $10 million and Stanford's $5 million offer is not maxed out, the remaining funds, up to $1 million, will be donated in a lump sum to the education foundation for its endowment.
The Stanford complex, which the university has named "Middle Plaza," includes a large privately owned but publicly accessible plaza. The plaza and the bicycle and pedestrian crossing over or under the tracks would be open to the public from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.
Council meeting tonight
Scheduled for the council's meeting tonight, Sept. 26, are:
• A public hearing on and possible approval of Stanford's "Middle Plaza" complex at 500 El Camino Real.
• A decision on whether the city should annex nearly 16 acres of unincorporated property the university owns and agree with Stanford's proposal to build a two-story office building of about 40,000 square feet at 2131 Sand Hill Road. (The 2131 Sand Hill Road project was brought to the council at the end of August for discussion, but was not approved.)
The 500 El Camino Real complex would be the largest development approved under the city's El Camino Real/downtown specific plan. The university proposes to build 215 apartments, 142,840 square feet of offices and 10,000 square feet of retail space on 8.4 acres along El Camino Real between Big 5 and the Stanford Park Hotel. The total square feet of 429,000 is slightly larger than the 420,000-square-foot Greenheart Land Co. mixed-use development at 1300 El Camino Real that the council approved in January.
The Sept. 26 council meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Menlo Park council chambers at 701 Laurel St. in the Civic Center.
2131 Sand Hill Road
In a previous council discussion, Stanford was asked to consider developing or participating in a transportation management association for the proposed building at 2131 Sand Hill Road. Others, from the Sharon Oaks Homeowners' Association had asked that the university contribute toward rebuilding an old sound wall along Sand Hill Road, but university officials did not support the idea.