After more than 50 years inside the quaint historic train depot at the downtown Caltrain Station, the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce moved quietly out of its longtime headquarters last year to a new location on Oak Grove Avenue after facing a rent hike, according to Fran Dehn, the chamber's president and CEO.
The chamber faced a "substantive" rent increase that would have been unrealistic to pay as a nonprofit organization, she said. It went into effect in March 2020 and chamber officials were unable to negotiate to maintain or reduce the rent based on office closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dehn said.
The chamber relocated its offices to 671 Oak Grove Ave. in downtown Menlo Park and reduced its office space by about 75%, Dehn added.
"Relocation was the only option," she said in an email. "A year later, the train station remains unoccupied and is falling into disrepair – rather sad for one of our historic 'gems.'"
According to Tasha Bartholomew, Caltrain spokesperson, Caltrain officials had been considering reducing the rent at the Chamber of Commerce's request when the chamber terminated its lease.
Caltrain and the Chamber of Commerce have historically had "differences" because Caltrain has wanted to collect rent at the fair market rate and the chamber "wanted to pay below market value," Bartholomew said in an email.
"While Caltrain was considering a rent reduction at the chamber’s request last year, we were informed by them that they had found an alternate location, approved by their board, and that they would be terminating their lease," she said. "The chamber voluntarily moved out of the Menlo Park Depot site as of August 31."
The depot is currently vacant and available for lease, according to Bartholomew. More information is available by contacting Michael Rodenburger at [email protected] or 408-823-3060.