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Developers officially submit Parkline proposal to rebuild SRI campus

A master plan map of the proposed Parkline project to redevelop the current 63-acre SRI campus in the heart of Menlo Park. Courtesy Lane Partners.

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SRI is "outdated and, frankly, kind of out of place in a city like Menlo Park," said Mark Murray, principal at Lane Partners, in a recent interview.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."

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"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.

A rendering of the proposed bike and pedestrian greenway to run along Ravenswood Avenue at the redeveloped SRI campus, Parkline. Courtesy Lane Partners.

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.

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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 protected]

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Developers officially submit Parkline proposal to rebuild SRI campus

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 10:21 am

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 protected]

Comments

Let's Not Sign Up for Gridlock
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 18, 2021 at 1:42 pm
Let's Not Sign Up for Gridlock, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 1:42 pm

Menlo Park's Planning Commission should keep in mind our *serious traffic problem* which Springline is about to worsen. Wow, killing 198 heritage trees, too! Not very Menlo Park and not very 2021! If people want to work in a city, they move to SF.


magster
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:04 pm
magster, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:04 pm

This is an imaginative and forward looking project that checks a lot of the boxes of things Menlo Park says it cares about. My understanding is that SRI will not be adding increased traffic since they already have the staffing. In fact there will be shuttles from the CalTrain station which should encourage more use of public transportation. There will be increased traffic during construction. So far as the additional 400 housing units are concerned, yes these will generate new traffic, but these would be part of the increase in traffic that is bound to happen somewhere in the City as we move toward adding required housing units. I hope the City Council and Planning Department move forward with approvals to let this move ahead without undue delay.


Let's Not Sign Up for Gridlock
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:13 pm
Let's Not Sign Up for Gridlock, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:13 pm

Magster, thank you for underscoring all the ways this proposal will increase traffic. This land is right in the middle of an already traffic-congested area, where **thousands of our children** do their school commutes every morning and afternoon. They don't need an empty field across from their school, they need a safe commute.


Bike Menlo Park
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:42 pm
Bike Menlo Park, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:42 pm

3,200 parking spots? From what I can tell, many of those parking spots on the SRI campus are currently vacant. Concerned that the future development will continue to promote car use instead of encouraging transit options (including nearby Caltrain).


Belle Haven Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:57 pm
Belle Haven Resident, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:57 pm

Housing, especially low income housing, not in Belle Haven is good. We have borne the entire burden for too long.


new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 20, 2021 at 9:47 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Nov 20, 2021 at 9:47 am

Glad to see even the YIMBYS consider building housing as a "burden".


Ronen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 22, 2021 at 10:24 am
Ronen, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2021 at 10:24 am

We need much more housing next to transit and the SRI site qualifies. Let’s do this!

We should also take the opportunity to bring some retail (cafes, small convenience store) into the site - this will greatly increase walkability for the neighborhoods east of Middlefield.

Finally, creating a direct bike path (not some meandering roundabout), from Middlefield, through the campus and the Caltrain underpass at Burgess, will better connect two parts of the city and will make biking safe, especially for kids.

This is a great opportunity to make our community more walkable and bikeable and build transit centric housing. Let’s not miss this chance!


ReginaR
Registered user
Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 22, 2021 at 12:25 pm
ReginaR, Atherton: West Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Where are they going to put all of the new students these housing projects are going to be bringing in? M-A is already bursting. The same people who think this “checks a lot of boxes” may not be thinking about the impact on our students.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 22, 2021 at 12:42 pm
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2021 at 12:42 pm

The SRI site is not "close to transit" unless you mean the commuter rail line that serves very limited needs. People who live at SRI will still need a vehicle to go shopping, to take the kids to school (only M-A is within walking distance) and other activities.

Let's not buy into the fiction that all the residents will be young, single people who work in the SF financial district (Caltrain riders!) or retired people who only leave their homes between 10 am and 2 pm. In reality, most of the people willing to squeeze themselves into undersized housing units will be families who want access to our schools.

The Linfield Oaks neighborhood has suffered two recent incidents in which a section of the water main ruptured, leaving people without water for extended periods of time. Traffic, as many have noted, is already gridlocked during commute hours. Recreational space is already at a premium, with very little public green space being offered by this development. There is no retail, unless you count the juice bar.

Those who dismiss the concerns about infrastructure and capacity as NIMBYism are simply gaslighting the rest of us. How many more people can we cram in to this area before it becomes unlivable?


Kevin
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 22, 2021 at 4:57 pm
Kevin, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2021 at 4:57 pm

@Frozen, @Let's Not Sign Up for Gridlock,

We all claim to want to reduce inequality and homelessness, but find plenty of excuses when our sacred cows might be affected - just human nature, but no way to fix the real problems. We may need to squeeze in a little more than the suburban American Dream.

Start about 3:40 in video.

Web Link


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 23, 2021 at 12:31 pm
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Nov 23, 2021 at 12:31 pm

The NY Times piece has been discussed ad nauseum. I won't repeat those arguments, only to point out that all the virtue signaling in the world will not eliminate the very real constraints that we face in a city that is already 99% built out.

The quality of life continues to decline in this area. The problems we faced ten years ago haven't evaporated despite everyone's most ardent progressive and open-minded intentions. Ultimately, Menlo Park will become a much less desirable place to live.

People who prefer a densely-populated urban environment already have plenty of choices. Our lots and homes are actually pretty modest compared to similar communities throughout the rest of the country.

I guarantee you that the Presidio Bay Ventures VCs aren't planning to make the kinds of sacrifices they are demanding from the rest of us.


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