After nearly five years of Menlo Park scrutiny, Stanford University received preliminary approval Tuesday from the Menlo Park City Council for its project to build a 429,000-square-foot office, housing and retail development between Big 5 Sporting Goods and the Stanford Park Hotel along El Camino Real.
The council voted 5-0 in favor of a package of resolutions and ordinances that would allow the university to move forward with its project.
Final approval is expected to be given at the council's Oct. 10 meeting.
The university, which first submitted its plans for the site in November 2012, proposes to build 142,800 square feet of office space, 215 apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail space. It also proposes a publicly accessible plaza.
Studies estimated that an additional 2,600 vehicle trips per day would be generated at the development, a lower amount than what was originally planned for in the city's El Camino Real/downtown specific plan.
The university made several last-minute concessions, agreeing to purchase 100 percent renewable energy, to design the development to meet LEED Gold requirements – a more stringent sustainability standard than the university had previously committed to providing – and, following a request by Mayor Kirsten Keith, to use natural, rather than fake turf at the on-site dog park planned at the development.
Stanford University had offered to pay $6.5 million under a development agreement that included provisions to pay half the cost up to $5 million to build a "grade separation" at Middle Avenue that would allow bikes and pedestrians to travel over or under the Caltrain tracks. The university also committed to donate $1.5 million to the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation in a lump sum for the foundation's endowment.
The university also said that, should the bike and pedestrian grade separation come in under $10 million, the university would pay the difference between $5 million and its half of the costs to the education foundation.
Council members agreed to decide later if those funds should be distributed so that Stanford would commit $4 million toward the bike and pedestrian grade separation and $2.5 million to the education foundation. Stanford official Jean McCown said the university could also add its name to city grant applications to help raise funds for the project from other sources.
• Earlier story: Menlo Park, Stanford strike deal for schools