SRI International site could become new Menlo Park neighborhood | June 4, 2021 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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News - June 4, 2021

SRI International site could become new Menlo Park neighborhood

Redevelopment plan envisions turning research park into mixed-use campus with 400 housing units

by Kate Bradshaw

SRI International has launched plans to redevelop its 63-acre campus as a mixed-use neighborhood with 10 acres for residential development and 29 acres of publicly accessible open space.

The 75-year-old research institute is launching plans to redevelop its Menlo Park headquarters at 333 Ravenswood Ave. by adding housing and opening areas to the public.

Menlo Park-based Lane Partners plans to start a community-guided process by holding a series of community listening sessions in July before submitting formal plans to Menlo Park's development department, said Mark Murray, principal at Lane Partners, in an interview.

"SRI has been a fixture in this community since before Silicon Valley became a household name — we are proud to have deep roots in Menlo Park," said William Jeffrey, chief executive officer at SRI, in a statement.

"We are excited about the opportunity to work with Lane Partners to modernize our facilities and transform our campus into a new neighborhood that will truly be connected with the Menlo Park community. With this redevelopment, we are excited to continue building on our long history of discoveries making people safer, healthier and more productive," Jeffrey added.

SRI was chartered as the Stanford Research Institute by Stanford University trustees on Nov. 6, 1946, with the purpose of using science and innovation for local economic growth. As SRI International, it separated from Stanford University in 1970 and is now a major employer in Menlo Park. SRI researchers are credited with innovations including the development of the computer mouse, robotic surgery, internet precursor ARPANET and various cancer treatments.

The nonprofit's clients include government agencies in the United States and abroad, and corporations large and small, for-profit and nonprofit, domestic and international.

"This is a once in a career kind of opportunity," Murray said, noting that he is a Menlo Park resident himself.

Early plans for the development, to be called Parkline, dedicate 10 acres of the property for residential development. Adding up to 40 housing units per acre, the site could accommodate at least 400 new housing units, Murray said. Among the housing units would be a mix of market-rate units and those aimed at being affordable to low-income households, he added.

Early site plan designs highlight the possibility for significantly increased public access to the property, which is currently fenced off to the public, Murray said.

Roughly 29 acres of the property would be publicly accessible open space, and drawings show bike routes running through the property and along Ravenswood Avenue that could more safely connect cyclists to Menlo-Atherton High School and Ringwood Avenue.

The property currently has about 38 buildings that are all enclosed within a security fence, Murray said.

"It's basically a void in town," he said.

The redeveloped site would reduce the number of buildings to eight or nine and make the buildings "better looking and more sustainable," Murray said. No additional square feet of office and research and development space would be built on the site.

Two or three of the current buildings would be kept for lab and research and development uses. The height of some buildings would be increased to five stories from the current three and four stories, Murray said.

The proposed development would create new office space for other tenants to occupy, he said.

The new buildings would also be set farther back from Ravenswood Avenue, and parking would be consolidated in out-of-sight parking structures, leaving room for more open space instead of the current "sea of asphalt," he added.

There is also expected to be a "modest amount" of community-serving retail space along the open space areas, according to spokesperson Adam Alberti.

Because the SRI property is located outside of the city's Downtown/El Camino Real Specific Plan, the zoning for the property would need to be updated to accommodate mixed-use developments including housing, Alberti noted.

The city is just getting started with plans to update its housing element, said Menlo Park City Council member Jen Wolosin in an email statement. Wolosin represents Menlo Park's District 3, where SRI is located. Updating the housing element will involve reviewing where more zoning for housing should be permitted in Menlo Park.

"I expect the SRI project to be reviewed on its own merits, and in relation to the Housing Element update, and I look forward to having many residents and stakeholders participate in the review process to help shape our community's future," Wolosin said.

If the project is approved, construction could take two to three years, and would likely be completed in one phase, Murray said.

"This is a big deal," he said. "It's a new neighborhood in Menlo Park."

Email Staff Writer Kate Bradshaw at [email protected]

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