Gemello, its residents say again and again, is an old-fashioned neighborhood. It has old-fashioned architecture, old-fashioned plants and, best of all, an old-fashioned feel with neighbors that know each other, like each other and even remodel with each other.
Gemello -- the Mountain View neighborhood located between the Los Altos border, El Camino Real and El Monte Avenue -- was once a winery owned by John Gemello. In the 1950s, it was sold to San Francisco-based Meadow Development Company, which promptly starting building three-bedroom, one-bath Blackfield and Excel villages.
Charles Channing is a relative newcomer to the area, having moved to Gemello from the Florida in 2001. He and his wife Stephanie, a Bay Area native, chose the area precisely for its old-fashioned charm. "We loved the older area," he said. "It's got older trees and plants and smaller, older homes. Plus, it's got a nice and quiet feel. Everyone knows everyone else in the neighborhood. It's a good place to raise kids."
In contrast, Jeanne Evilsizer moved to Gemello in 1978. Evilsizer, a Los Altos native, was first attracted by the quality of Excel workmanship and its proximity to her hometown. Thirty-two years later, she's still there, one of a group of close-knit long-time residents.
"The neighborhood is very established with several of our neighbor's living in their homes for 50-plus years," she said. "We have excellent neighbors who you can always depend on. We are very happy in the neighborhood."
Gemello, she said, is close to major roadways and "excellent for shopping, restaurants and medical offices." The neighborhood park, Gemello Park on Solano Drive and Marich Way, is a focal point for families and small children, even if cars driving on Marich Way go too fast.
"People go too quickly on Marich near the park," her neighbor and Gemello resident Mark Bubert said. "Everyone flies on that street."
Still, Evilsizer said the speeding is a small price to pay for Gemello's prime location.
"I love the location because I can take my grandchildren (out) without getting in the car -- we walk," she said. "(We can go to) Petco to see animals, Diddams to buy toys, McDonald's for lunch or dinner, Bagel Street Café for breakfast, Gemello Park or Almond School to play, 31 Flavors for ice-cream. All of these businesses are within a short walking distance, and, Shoreline Park is a short drive away, as are the theaters and all the businesses available on Casto Street."
Location was the deciding factor for Bubert, who has lived in Gemello since 2002. He picked the neighborhood for its proximity to his work, the former Dittmer's butcher shop on San Antonio Road that was destroyed by fire in 2011. It's not far from the new location either.
"Gemello is just close to everything," he said. "I love to bike, and from Gemello you hop on 280 and you can get away in a few minutes. There's a park, and Los Altos High is nearby."
"I wouldn't move," Bubert said. "I love it here. I am very happy in this neighborhood."
People have asked if he'd like to live in a big house in the hills.
"Only if the neighbors come with me," he said.
-- Angela Chen
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Childrens Learning Cottage, 675 Escuela Ave.; Mountain View KinderCare, 2065 W. El Camino Real; St. Paul Lutheran CDC, 1075 El Monte Ave.; Wonder World, 2015 Latham St. (nearby)
FIRE STATION: No. 3, 301 N. Rengstorff Ave.; No. 1, 251 S. Shoreline Blvd.
LOCATION: bounded by El Monte Avenue, Jardin Drive, Karen Way and El Camino Real
PARK: Gemello Park, Marich Way and Solana Court
POST OFFICE: Mountain View, 211 Hope St., Blossom Valley, 1768 Miramonte Ave.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS (nearby): Canterbury Christian School, 101 N El Monte Ave.; The Waldorff School of the Peninsula, 180 N. Rengstorff Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Mtn. View-Whisman School District -- Bubb Elementary School, Graham Middle School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District -- Los Altos High School
SHOPPING: Downtown Mountain View, Downtown Los Altos, Blossom Valley Shopping Center, Gemello Village, Clarkwood Center, San Antonio Shopping Center
MEDIAN 2012 HOME PRICE: $1,085,000 ($600,000-$1,500,000)
HOMES SOLD: 20
MEDIAN 2012 CONDO PRICE: $615,000 ($430,000-$840,000)
CONDOS SOLD: 5