It's official: There's now a proposal under review at City Hall to rebuild the 63-acre SRI campus hidden in the heart of Menlo Park.
Lane Partners, a Menlo Park-based developer, recently submitted plans to demolish the aging research and development campus at SRI and replace it with state-of-the-art research buildings, 400 new housing units, new landscaping with bike and pedestrian paths, and more than 25 acres of publicly accessible open space, according to proposal documents.
SRI, an independent, nonprofit research institute that is headquartered in Menlo Park and has a history of launching a number of pioneering technologies, is currently housed in "obsolete and unsustainable buildings," according to the documents.
SRI is "outdated and, frankly, kind of out of place in a city like Menlo Park," said Mark Murray, principal at Lane Partners, in a recent interview.
Right now, he noted, there's a security fence running around about 90% of the site, and it's "not great looking."
"It impedes a huge chunk of land right in the middle of town," he said.
The plan is to remove that fence and open up routes through the property to safely walk, bike, and recreate on 28 new acres of landscaped, publicly accessible land, all while creating new and improved workplaces for SRI employees and adding housing for the community.
The development wouldn't add any square footage beyond what exists there now for office and research and development space, 1.38 million square feet, and would retain the same number of parking spots as currently exist – 3,200. Three of the existing buildings would be left on-site to allow SRI to continue operations during the construction process, according to proposal documents.
Among the open space offerings would be a multi-use sports field sized to accommodate under-10 soccer teams, a children's playground, outdoor exercise stations, a dog park, a running loop over a mile long, and bike pathways to connect the neighborhood to Burgess Park, the future Caltrain undercrossing at Middle Avenue and Menlo Park's downtown area. There would also be a bike and pedestrian path connecting Menlo Park's Caltrain station to Menlo-Atherton High School and Ringwood Avenue along Ravenswood Avenue.
"The idea is to create a new, massive, park-like amenity right in the core of downtown Menlo Park," Murray said.
Across the street from Menlo-Atherton High School, the developer plans to build a bike repair shop and juice bar, along with a new student drop-off area at Ravenswood Avenue and Middlefield Road.
One emphasis of the proposal is sustainability, and the developer proposes to work to attain certain LEED certifications, minimize carbon emissions, and meet the city's all-electric reach code requirements. To promote renewable energy, solar panels would be installed to generate power on-site, and to reduce water, recycled water options would be considered and efficient fixtures installed. The construction process would also focus on diverting waste from landfills.
To complete the rebuilding project, the developer proposes to remove a total of 529 of the existing 1,375 trees on the campus, including 198 heritage trees and 331 non-heritage trees, and plant 795 new trees, boosting the overall tree count to 1,641.
Lane Partners also proposes to build 400 new rental units in four buildings, including 19 rental townhomes near the existing Classics of Burgess housing development. Of those, 15%, or about 60, of the new homes would be affordable to low, very low and moderate-income households.
The proposal builds on community input collected over a series of outreach events held over the summer. One community that Lane Partners listened to closely was the residents at the Burgess Classics, 33 single-family homes that were formerly part of SRI property, according to Murray. In response to concerns from those residents, Lane Partners opted to place lower-density townhomes nearest that neighborhood.
Another modification made in response to neighbor concerns about traffic was to separate commercial traffic and have it exit onto Ravenswood Avenue and Middlefield Road rather than the more residential Laurel Street, according to Murray.
For the proposal to move forward, the city needs to rezone the property to permit up to 40 homes per acre on that site. Currently, city zoning only permits 18.5 units per acre and sets the maximum building height at 35 feet. The proposal seeks to have two, five-story buildings set back far away from the residential areas.
The next step for the project will be for the developer to receive staff input and then hold feedback sessions with Menlo Park's Planning Commission and City Council, Murray said.
Go to menloparkline.com for more information.
Email Staff Writer Kate Bradshaw at email@example.com.