Three new buildings planned for the site now occupied by the Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital and its neighboring businesses near the Caltrain station were cleared for approval by the Menlo Park Planning Commission on Monday, May 14.
The commission granted architectural control and approved the terms of a below-market-rate agreement, among other actions taken, enabling proposed mixed-use projects at 506 and 556 Santa Cruz Ave. and 1125 Merrill St. in downtown Menlo Park, near the Caltrain station, to move forward.
Owners at Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital and the adjacent animal rehabilitation center, Scout's House, told The Almanac that they plan to relocate to North Fair Oaks.
The new developments are buildings:
● 1125 Merrill St.: 8,732 square feet and 53 feet tall, with office space on the first and second floors, and one residential unit on each of the third and fourth floors. Four heritage trees would be removed.
● 506 Santa Cruz Ave.: 19,388 square feet and 54 feet tall, with a cafe on the first floor, office space on the second and third floors and three residential units on the fourth floor. Three heritage trees would be removed.
● 556 Santa Cruz Ave.: 14,210 square feet and 46 feet tall, with retail space on the first floor, office space on the second floor and four residential units on the third floor. One heritage tree would be removed.
Parking at the new buildings would be accommodated by what are called "puzzlers" – mechanical parking systems, with some ground-level parking. Bike parking would also be included and the sidewalks would be widened.
To meet the city's requirements for below-market-rate housing, the developer has offered to build two units of affordable housing, though only one is required, if it is permitted to build them at the 1162-1170 El Camino Real property it also owns.
However, the Housing Commission was worried that that project may not get built quickly. So the developer agreed to provide those units in two years.
Other options are to pay the fee equivalent of those two units, or dedicate one of the units at the Santa Cruz Avenue and Merrill Street buildings to be below-market-rate housing.
If that project doesn't meet a two-year deadline, the developer will provide two units there as affordable housing. Otherwise the developer can pay a fee equivalent to two below-market-rate units or dedicate one unit of the Santa Cruz Avenue and Merrill Street buildings to below-market-rate housing.
"I think it's fantastic," said new commissioner Camille Kennedy, in response to the trio of building proposals. "This is something that I'd love to see more of in Menlo Park."
Project developer Chase Rapp later commented in a written statement: "My partner, Brady Fuerst, and I are very excited to take this project to the next step in actually bringing it to fruition. We have been working on this for [more than 2.5 years and are ready to bring life and improvement to this important part of the Menlo Park downtown and station area."