Construction of the new office building at 1020 Alma St., across from the Menlo Park Caltrain station, was recently completed and the building is now occupied, according to Jeff Birdwell, president of the Northern California commercial division of Sares Regis Group, the firm that managed the development of the project.
While the courtyard of the new building won't have an old heritage tree, which toppled during excavation work at the site, it does now have an outdoor coffee kiosk occupied by high-end coffee vendor Saint Frank Coffee.
The business has another Menlo Park location at Facebook headquarters, but it is only accessible to Facebook employees. The new location is open to the public.
According to Saint Frank Coffee owner Kevin Bohlin, "We are thrilled to be serving our coffee on such a beautiful property. We originally began our business with an outdoor pop-up so this is a kind of returning to our roots in a more refined and mature approach fitting our journey as a company."
He explained that the cafe will have a new menu with "relationally-sourced" filter coffee and espresso drinks, but with an expanded focus on colder drinks, with new offerings like a "Kaffe Cola," alongside existing menu items like cold coffees, a "Kaffe Tonic" and nitro coffees.
He added that he appreciates the foundation's focus on sustainability, and that it aligns with Saint Frank's focus on working with small-scale growers toward "sustainable and empowered development" that promotes environmental, economic and social sustainability.
"It would be incredible if we were able to work toward collaborating on projects in the future where coffee can be the agent of transformation in sustainability, not just the object of it," he added.
New green office building
There are hopes that the renewed site will promote new activity in the area.
"This building replaced a number of obsolete buildings on sites adjacent to the Menlo Park Caltrain station, and we're proud that we've been able to enliven the neighborhood with this project," Birdwell said in a written statement.
"Eric and I are grateful to the city and residents of Menlo Park and are eager to see the active enjoyment of the café, bike racks, and EV charging at the Alma Station project," said Wendy Schmidt, president of The Schmidt Family Foundation and co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute.
The new office building will consolidate several branches of the family's initiatives: the Schmidt Family Foundation, which was formerly in Palo Alto; the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which runs Falkor, a research vessel to promote ocean exploration; and Schmidt Futures, which funds science fellowships and promotes initiatives for science, technology, society and "shared prosperity," according to a press statement. It will also house the Schmidt family's investment management company, Hillspire LLC.
The building was designed by BAR Architects and has solar panels, a complex HVAC system, two EV charging stations, bike racks, and new streetscaping and landscaping out front. It also has two levels of underground parking.
The new building is expected to have 80 to 100 people working there, and they will be encouraged to keep energy use low.
Birdwell said that the building isn't "net zero energy" yet because staff still needs to move in and adapt to the space. In the building's lobby, he said, there will be a dashboard that will encourage occupants to minimize their energy use by providing real-time feedback on the building's consumption.
Schmidt added that she supports those aims: "Targeting near-zero energy and responsible water use were important goals for every member of our team. And the easy commuting location alongside Caltrain Alma Station is a great convenience for many who will work in the building," she offered in a written statement.