Planning Commission OKs designs for building next to Draeger's

Draeger family opposes plans to move grocers' loading zone

It looks as if Draeger's in Menlo Park may be getting a new neighbor, and the family of grocers is worried it may have to relocate the area in which wares are moved in and out of the grocery store.

The Troglio family, which owns the vacant lot at the corner of Menlo Avenue and Evelyn Street adjacent to Draeger's, has proposed building a three-story mixed-use building at 840 Menlo Ave.

The designs for the building call for the main entrance to be placed on Evelyn Street – but that's also where the Draegers have, for the last 17 years or so, set up their loading zone for moving goods in and out of the grocery store.

At least six members of the Draeger family showed up with an attorney and a consultant at Monday's Planning Commission meeting (March 12) to present their case for keeping the loading zone on Evelyn Street, which would be right in the front of the new proposed building.

The conflict has been many years coming.

According to a staff report, Draeger's used to lease the lot as a loading zone, until the lease ended in 2001. In 2002, the Menlo Park City Council gave conditional approval to the grocer to use Evelyn Street until plans to develop the site were pursued, at which point the plan was to re-evaluate the loading zone.

Staff have recommended moving the loading zone to Menlo Avenue, though the move was not supported by the city's Complete Streets Commission. Staff say Menlo Avenue is still a viable option, according to Associate Planner Kaitie Meador.

The proposed building at 840 Menlo Ave. would be a total of 11,471 square feet, with 13 parking spots and a lobby on the ground floor, non-medical office space on the second floor, and three two-bedroom condominiums on the third floor that are intended for the owner's family members.

In public comments, Richard Draeger told commissioners that moving the loading zone would be "crippling to our 62-year-old business." He noted that the grocery store routinely reports more sales in an hour than there are parking spots, even in slow times of year, and insisted that people who shop at Draeger's often visit other downtown shops. If it's harder for customers to access the store because of limited parking, he said, it could translate to lost sales at the grocery store and other nearby shops.

Tony Draeger emphasized the value of Draeger's to the community and noted that locally based food purveyors are struggling against larger, international corporations. "Where is the Andronico's? Where's Beltramo's?" he asked. "Draeger's is only here today because we've been able to carve out a niche that serves the Menlo Park community."

"We can be marginalized by the decision you make," he said.

In response, Richard Poe, a consultant representing the owners of the proposed building, cited city documents indicating that the loading zone issue was supposed to be resolved "long, long, long ago."

Allowing the grocer to load and unload its wares in front of the new building on Evelyn Street would have adverse impacts to the project, he said.

The Planning Commission was permitted only to vote on the architectural designs for the project, which its members approved 6-1, with Commissioner John Onken opposed.

The matter of the loading zone is expected to be brought to the City Council in the future.


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12 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 13, 2018 at 12:52 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

Granted, there are only sub-optimal solutions for the Draeger's loading zone conundrum–-but adding delivery trucks to the already busy mix at Menlo Ave and University is a terrible idea. It's hard to understand how staff could recommend it, especially after the unanimous and full-throated objection of the Complete Streets Commission.

The best-case scenario would be for Draeger's to max out the use of their private lot (which is never full) and dedicate parking lot space behind the store for a loading zone. This keeps the ~900 monthly deliveries out of the way of traffic.

20 people like this
Posted by Happy Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 13, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Happy Resident is a registered user.

Draeger's is Absolutely Essential to Menlo Park! In my mind there is No question about that. Why can't the City take the property by eminent domain (pay the owners "fair and reasonable" compensation) in the interests of the general public and lease it back to Draeger's or lease/sell it to Draeger's over time to ensure that the cost to the City is minimal or zero and the benefit to the community is that it keeps the Best grocery store in the United States. I think that the City needs to make a deal happen. In this case, the City's interests are entirely aligned with the best interests of Draeger's desire to continue to serve the residents of Menlo Park.

19 people like this
Posted by MPresident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 13, 2018 at 1:08 pm

So Draegers is opposed to a land owner building on their property because it cannot be flexible with its deliveries? What nonsense
Most large business receive deliveries after hours, late nights or early morning. Can Draegers do the same? Why not?
There is a large parking lot across the street that gets little use, can Draegers use that lot? Why not? If the empty lot was and is still important to Draegers maybe they should make an offer to buy the property so they can continue their deliveries from their preferred location.
Draegers is a good resource for the community but this arguement is lacking any common sense. The property owner is entitled to build on this property without restriction and complaints from Draegers. This is a great example of why Little can get done in our neighborhoods. Everyone has a voice in everyone’s business.

11 people like this
Posted by Mark L
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 13, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Draegers could trade their parking lot across the street for the property next to them. Parking across the street is inconvenient for customers.

19 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 13, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Draegers had the right to negotiate with the lot's owners YEARS ago and couldn't come to business terms.

it then asked for SPECIAL permission to use the parking lot and side door as a loading area (and were granted that permissions). now they are complaining again.....

they chose not to spend $ to get what they really needed...and blew it. that alone should make them exempt from complaining.


17 people like this
Posted by Dana Nendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 13, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Looks like an attractive development on a long time vacant downtown lot ("eyesore"). Looks like the owner is fully compliant with the Specific Plan. Looks like Draeger's enjoyed a special arrangement for over a decade it knew would come to end. Love Draeger's but I got to side with the lot owner on this one. This is Draeger's problem to solve with NO special treatment from the City that negatively impacts the property owner. Offer to purchase the property and if it's not enough, live with your best alternative.

4 people like this
Posted by Giovanni
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 14, 2018 at 2:14 pm

How can you call the vacant lot an eyesore when it's surrounded by a brick wall? I would rather look at the brick wall than have an oversized (three stories) office building in that location. NO MORE OFFICE BUILDINGS DOWNTOWN, PLEASE!!!

I really like Mark's suggestion about swapping properties.

1 person likes this
Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 14, 2018 at 4:31 pm

More back story, Roy. I was on the Planning Commission when this dispute first emerged.

The small lot was leased by Draeger's as their loading dock. It was zoned for parking. During the mindset of Internet Boom I, the parties couldn't reach an agreement. On the other hand I don't think the small lot was ever rezoned (until apparently this request. Many years have gone by.

The problem was swept under the MP zoning rug when the city granted Draeger's use of a few car spots of public lot for their loading zone.

3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2018 at 6:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This site was rezoned by the adoption of the DSP.

Here is what the DSP requires for this site:
Business and Professional office (inclusive
of medical and dental office) shall not
exceed one half of the base FAR or public
benefit bonus FAR, whichever is

And this is what the Staff Report on this project :
"Complies: Downtown zone allows for 2.0
FAR and a maximum of 1.0 FAR for
professional office. Site area is 6,936 and
professional office use is 6,610 SF per

10 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 16, 2018 at 2:53 pm

It's laughable to say Dragers is essential to MP and that the city should do anything to solve the issue Dragers caused by not planning very well. Using eminent domain to take land so a very expensive grocery store can get it's deliveries when it wants is ludicrous. Can't believe that was even suggested.

@giovanni - are you really so opposed building anything, you are suggesting that an obviously abandoned lot surrounded by a brick wall and chain link gate choked with weeds is a better visual than a new building right in the middle of town? Really?

6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I suggest that Draegers negotiate a lease with the City for the entire two parking rows adjacent to the store from 5 AM to 10 AM M-F. That would allow drive through deliveries and would eliminate those trucks parking on nearby streets.

Given the price of property in Menlo Park the City could probably negotiate a very good rate.

9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 16, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

I'm with Mper. Draegers is hardly "essential" to Menlo Park. They are nothing like the market they were 24 years ago when I moved here. The products are nowhere near the quality they used to be, but Draegers continues to charge as if it were. Bottom line, they're a ripoff. The only time I go there, which is rarely, is when I'm looking for some specialty item I can't find at Safeway. And I'm no fan of Safeway. Standing in line for 20 minutes just to check out a few items is inexcusable. But, the added cost at Draegers simply isn't worth the time savings.

2 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 17, 2018 at 12:00 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Peter, I am not sure, but I think Draegers actually owns part of the parking lot. I know they paid into the downtown park fund which is why they can offset their required spaces.

The lot in question did NOT pay into that fund and must therefor be "self sustaining" WRT to parking. meaning the first floor will be TINY to accommodate all the required parking for the building.


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

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