A proposal to construct a three-story building with apartments, townhomes, retail and restaurant space, in Menlo Park Allied Arts neighborhood won unanimous approval from the City Council Tuesday, Oct. 27.
The proposal, by property owner Yihan Hu, will demolish the current structures at 201-211 El Camino Real, at the corner of El Camino Real and Cambridge Avenue where Koma Sushi is currently located, and replace them with a 25,282-square-foot structure with spaces for one restaurant and up to three retail shops on the ground floor, and 12 apartments – six one-bedroom and six two-bedroom units – on the second and third floors.
The structure would have a two-level underground parking garage with 59 spaces. Behind it, at 612 Cambridge Avenue, would be two new townhouses.
In the hours leading up to the council's meeting on the proposal, about 25 messages entered the City Council's public email inbox from people beseeching council members to spare the heritage trees planned to be felled as part of the proposal.
Project architects Mark Wommack and Stuart Welte of EID Architects said they worked hard to avoid impacting the heritage trees, but landed at their proposal after consulting with multiple arborists and going through the city's legal process for obtaining permits to cut down a heritage tree. Five trees, two of which are considered heritage trees, are expected to be axed. At least 26 new trees will be planted on the site, the architects said. Despite the outcry over the heritage trees, the council did not require the developer to change the project to preserve the trees.
As an additional condition to their approval of the project, the council members agreed that the developer should install electrical equipment needed to accommodate electric vehicles at whatever level is mandated by the city at the time the developer acquires the building permit.
The developer has agreed to dedicate two of the housing units for below-market-rate rent or purchase by low-income households. The developer has the option to convert the housing units from rental to ownership properties in the future, according to a staff report, and if the housing units are sold, then the two units will be eligible for below-market-rate purchase by low-income households, according to a staff report.
Sidewalks are also planned to be widened to 12 feet from 4 feet, and the developer plans to install a raised crosswalk on Cambridge Avenue to improve pedestrian safety near the property.