Menlo Park City Council greenlights new three-story building for Santa Cruz Avenue | News | Almanac Online |

News

Menlo Park City Council greenlights new three-story building for Santa Cruz Avenue

 

By Tyler Callister/Special to The Almanac

As part of the city's efforts to revive the downtown area, the Menlo Park City Council unanimously approved a three-story building project on Santa Cruz Avenue at its Jan. 29 meeting.

The 49,908-square-foot structure will be a mixed-use building split into retail space, nonmedical office space and residential space.

Project architect Bob Giannini of Form 4 Architecture, who spoke at the council meeting, explained that the building design is intended to complement the city's goal of revitalizing Santa Cruz Avenue, the downtown's main street.

"It brings a lot of people downtown," he said. "Which is bad, perhaps, for traffic, but good for the vitality of the street. Right now there are vacant storefronts on Santa Cruz. The goal would be ... to get more people downtown, and increase the liveliness downtown."

The building owner, Vasile Oros, plans to tear down the current structure, which houses the restaurant Juban Yankiniku House and the computer repair store TechLoop. The building is flanked by Menlo Park Hardware, also owned by Oros.

The next stage for the new project is the building permit process, after which the owner may begin construction. There is currently no set start date.

According to the city staff report, the building proposal is in keeping with Menlo Park's 2012 El Camino and Downtown Specific Plan. "The proposal would meet the Specific Plan's Base level standards, which were established to achieve inherent public benefits, such as the redevelopment of underutilized properties, the creation of more vitality and activity, and the promotion of healthy living and sustainability."

On the Santa Cruz Avenue side, design renderings suggest the potential for increased foot traffic in the area. The renderings show large windows in the bottom-floor retail spaces, which Giannini said may house restaurants. The second floor will contain offices and the top level will have four three-bedroom condominium units.

The total residential space is planned at 11,405 square feet. Retail space will total 12,049 square feet, and office space will total 23,454 square feet.

The new building will include a parking garage off Chestnut Lane with 69 parking spaces, replacing the 18 spaces on the current site.

According to Senior Planner Kaitie Meador, technical components of the project application include an architectural control permit for the building design, a subdivision to demarcate the for-sale residential units on the top floor, a variance that allows for skylights above one of the office spaces, and removal of a single parking space on Chestnut Lane to allow for fire access.

Oros originally brought the building proposal to the Planning Commission in December 2017. The commission's review yielded questions about how to address safety concerns on Chestnut Lane, and suggestions to improve the proposed building's appearance.

Following the initial review, Oros hired a new architect, Form 4 Architecture, and after lengthy revisions brought the proposal again to the commission, which held a study session in September 2018. Finally on Dec. 9 of last year, the commission voted to recommend approval of the building.

During the discussion at the Jan. 28 council meeting, Councilwoman Betsy Nash expressed some regret that the building would include only a small amount of new housing. "I'm very happy to see a project coming in downtown. I wish there was more housing and less office, but I understand that is how this one's working," she said.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Drew Combs lamented the fact that the three-story building is the only new development being proposed for Santa Cruz Avenue.

"As a part of the [El Camino and Downtown Specific Plan we changed the zoning toward parcels on El Camino and on Santa Cruz as a way to incentivize development," he said. "And so far very few property owners on Santa Cruz have taken us up on that offer of greater ability to exploit their property. So I do think it's worth noting ... that this is ... the only project on Santa Cruz, and it doesn't look like there is another one in the immediate future."

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Comments

29 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2020 at 12:23 pm

A three-story building on Santa Cruz Avenue?!? You've GOT to be kidding!!!


13 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 4, 2020 at 12:40 pm

What are the required number of parking spaces per the building code for this project? Or as usual is the city giving in to the developer when it comes to required parking spaces?
What is the impact n the current parking for the hardware store? Will the handicapped parking spot be replaced. As it is downtown does not have enough handicapped spots for legitimate handicap users.


32 people like this
Posted by Nikki Stitt Sokol
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 4, 2020 at 12:51 pm

The building looks beautiful. This is exactly the kind of building we need more of downtown. Great project, and happy to see Council approve it. I hope to see more like it soon in order to increase the vitality and improve the appearance of downtown.


29 people like this
Posted by TG
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 4, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Let me get this straight: lots of vacant storefronts in downtown Menlo (some quite large), so the answer to “revitalization” is to knock out existing businesses, create a huge building that will cast shade (when most locals enjoy sitting outside in the sun), and create offices and a few ridiculously expensive condos? Seriously? Welcoming reasonably priced shops on Santa Cruz (that are more than just interior design operations!!!!) would induce a heck of a lot more “vitality“. People go to specific restaurants (with good food and ambience) and specific stores, especially if they know there is good parking (the increased parking in this projects is the one good thing!). Or did the people who approved this thing think that the few people working in those offices (who might grab lunch or an after work drink downtown) will create “vitality“, despite the fact that they will surely never be around on a Saturday, and probably not in the evenings either? I guess they think a shiny new building makes everything look good. All you have to do is look at how grim Redwood City looks to know that shiny buildings are not the answer. (PS- The expanded outdoor dining areas in the downtown restaurants have made a huge difference in how it feels downTown. Bravo for that. And I adore the lights and all the trees. Kudos for at least THOSE good decisions!)


16 people like this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 4, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Excited to see some development on Santa Cruz Ave. Our downtown needs a refresh. I hope City Council is also now open to revisiting the need for more parking, regardless of this new structure. We need to reconsider our stance on parking garages so we can attract other businesses and patrons to our downtown area.


20 people like this
Posted by Needed
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 4, 2020 at 2:48 pm

Santa Cruz Ave needs something to revive it from the dead. Looks good, carry on.


23 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 4, 2020 at 4:09 pm

So long Santa Cruz Avenue, hello El Camino. In a few years we'll have jet another tunnel of tall buildings. Vitalization? If this is vitalization who needs it. TWO STORIES MAKES A LOT OF SENSE TO ME.


9 people like this
Posted by Patrick
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 4, 2020 at 4:20 pm

Nice looking building. Taller structures on that side of Santa Cruz will cast most of their shade on the parking lot in back, especially in winter. Maybe they've thought of this already, but it might be a good idea to limit the South-East side to single story, and put the taller buildings on the North-West side.


16 people like this
Posted by 94025
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 4, 2020 at 8:29 pm

Beautiful design! Great use of space! Well done to the architect and THANK YOU to the Oros family for contributing a first step in revitalizing our sorry, sorry "downtown."


8 people like this
Posted by whycan'twegetitright
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 4, 2020 at 11:55 pm

So much talent, so much education, such forward thinking, and, yet, we never quite get it(?) right. I wish I had the answers. I wish I could tell the ptb who to turn to. I just know that with all that is in our powers in such an enlightened area, there ought to be no trouble coming up with a wondrous downtown Menlo Park...really. PLEASE CAN someone, anyone, shake us, wake us, and get us on the right path?


21 people like this
Posted by Missing something
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 5, 2020 at 12:07 am

This is a genuine question, not just a criticism. I must be missing something. How does a building of offices and residences revitalize our downtown? I can see how stores and restaurants might do that but offices? I see traffic, parking problems and the like. I don't see a more vibrant downtown.

What does Drew want? Attractive building for the sake of it?

Someone who supports this, please explain. I don't understand how we will be better off.


10 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 5, 2020 at 7:57 am

Let's define 'Vitality': more people, more foot-fall, more commerce, more day to day activity. You either want this or you don't. It's perfectly OK to say 'leave Menlo park just the way it is!'. But my advice would be to practice more birth control to stop having children, burn the school and start keying visitors cars so nobody wants to move here and we can keep it under a glass cover.

If we grow, which is inevitable, then our downtown needs to grow as well. People howling that 'three stories' is akin to the sky falling is misplaced. And as strange as it seems, growing regional downtowns is to reduce driving, not increase traffic. This is a perfectly mannered, ordinary looking building. Move forward!


5 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 5, 2020 at 8:07 am

"Vitality". We need and we all want vitality, but does it have to be to the extent we see happening right now before our very eyes?


7 people like this
Posted by Here's how it works
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 5, 2020 at 8:46 am

Office workers on SC Ave will become the much needed customers for the restaurants in the area at lunch time. Many new ones are popping up. If you can get steady customers for both lunch and dinner, you'll flourish, as will the rest of downtown. It must be balanced, but offices are good for a downtown.


5 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 5, 2020 at 8:51 am

"Here's how it Works". What you say makes sense but it debunks the theory that we need housing near transportation centers.


18 people like this
Posted by Will
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 5, 2020 at 10:04 am

Omg! And this is only one of the many reasons I am moving Out of Menlo Park after 50 + years here. This city is not the same and the more they build the worse the traffic gets and more it pushes me away. I used to love this town. Born and raised, now I can not wait to get out...


12 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2020 at 1:42 pm

To: Will

Thank you. My sentiments exactly. I was born and raised in Menlo Park. I lived there for 50 years before moving. To go back there today and visit would break my heart. At least we have our memories of what a great town it used to be.

pearl


18 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 5, 2020 at 1:59 pm

Will & Pearl:

its called growth and change. It happens. When I moved to the area in 1971 there were still many, many orchards. Not any more. So what? They were taken out to provide much needed housing. We have no area left for single story homes, so density must increase. This is all part of that growth. I know, it's change and change can be difficult and painful, but change is one constant of life.


12 people like this
Posted by Maite Brias
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 5, 2020 at 9:51 pm

Does charm , history , old town feel, have to be mutually exclusive to revitalization ! This building is going to change the character of Santa Cruz ! This is not Sand Hill Road!


10 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2020 at 10:03 pm

To: Maite Brias

Thank you, that's EXACTLY what it's all about! :)

pearl


11 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 6, 2020 at 11:33 am

Three Story buildings with Housing on the top floor will become the norm in Menlo Park. we have a requirement to have more housing for each square foot of office space (thanks to the States BAGS requirements)

WRT to there is NOTHING charming about Menlo Park, there is NOTHING Old Town about Menlo Park. This is a city that wrote over 25,000 parking tickets......almost one per resident. Charming, we are NOT.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 6, 2020 at 1:02 pm

"WRT to there is NOTHING charming about Menlo Park, there is NOTHING Old Town about Menlo Park. This is a city that wrote over 25,000 parking tickets......almost one per resident. Charming, we are NOT."

Exactly.


25 people like this
Posted by Ha!
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2020 at 1:14 pm

"This is a city that wrote over 25,000 parking tickets......almost one per resident."

Well, if they all went to residents, it clearly shows how little the residents care about obeying the simple laws of society that keep us civil.
I've noticed a marked sense of entitlement with many in MP concerning how and where they park.

I don't say enforce the laws less, I say obey the laws more.


8 people like this
Posted by Meh
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 7, 2020 at 9:13 am

Agreed with Maite Brias. I don't think charm has to be mutually exclusive with vitality. The problem is that that's not where the money is. The money (for developers) is in big office buildings and apartment towers. Meanwhile, we're losing a used bookstore and other long-time establishments in favor of office complexes and apartment buildings. We're sacrificing culture and character and turning MP into a McCity like any other. Obviously I understand why (a used bookstore is certainly not a major moneymaker). It's just sad.


5 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2020 at 1:47 pm

What’s sad is the always entitled ME generation who has zero awareness of their comments. Menlo Park’s population more than doubled to accommodate them in the 50s and 60s. Did they care what the the older residents thought of growth then. Nope. Now they whine about the same thing except the growth is like 10% vs. 100%.
And those whining about the book store! How about offering to pay the rent on a new space for Feldman? No takers?


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