The Menlo Park Planning Commission began reviewing plans to redevelop the 63-plus acres of campus that include constructing residential buildings up to 65 feet tall.
Plans for the Parkline project, located on Ravenswood Avenue between Laurel Street and Middlefield Road, call for up to 550 new rental housing units, at least 15% of which will be at below market rate. The project will include new bicycle and pedestrian paths and about 25 acres of publicly accessible open space.
Parkline developer Lane Partners plans to demolish all but three of the existing buildings currently on the SRI research campus. The development will be split between a 10-acre residential district and a 53-acre office district. The residential district will have 450 units plus a separately zoned area designated leased to an affordable housing developer for a project of up to 100 units.
Parkline plans to exceed the 25% minimum required amount of open space by making 38% of the site publicly accessible open space. Residents spoke at the Dec. 12 meeting about the desire to see greater amounts of open space and public access. The SRI campus is across the street from Burgess Park.
"I encourage the commission to emphasize active land use, not just pretty paths for our children and families," Gail Gorton said. "Burgess Park is already packed, and cannot accommodate our new neighbors. The many individuals and families who will be living in this densely populated development need usable outdoor space for their mental and physical health."
The project also reaches a maximum height of 65 feet at one of its apartment buildings, a contrast to the current maximum building height of 25 feet on the SRI campus. The plan offers 336 parking spaces in a two-story garage, with six for guest use. Additionally, for the townhomes, the plan offers 216 spots, including 36 for guests.
A few residents at the meeting spoke against including so much parking, pointing to the nearby Caltrain station as an alternative to cars, saying that redevelopment offered the city opportunities to create more walkable neighborhoods. Increased walkability would decrease local traffic as new residents move into the complexes.
"I'm really excited by the project's potential to just kind of be a great example of a future beyond cars," said resident Brittani Baxter. "It's so central to downtown, and it's so walkable ... I think with the walkable amenities around that location ... I think it's a really cool opportunity."
The Parkline environmental report aims to study two potential project alternatives as well. One variation would include a 2 million gallon above-ground reservoir and associated facilities, and the other includes an additional 50 residential units for a total of up to 600.
None of the impacts explored thus far were shown to be significant and unavoidable, and six were deemed "less than significant" after mitigation measures were taken, including impacts to air quality, noise and tribal cultural resources.