The northernmost parcel of land, at 4073 El Camino Real, is located in what are called the "triangle properties." The 8,141-square-foot property is situated on an island of land sandwiched between El Camino Real and El Camino Way, across from Palo Alto Commons. The island extends from Los Robles Avenue to Arastradero/West Charleston roads.
For years, the parcel has been the subject of a number of code-enforcement cases related to maintenance of the vacant site, according to a staff report to the Architectural Review Board (ARB).
A gas station on the site was abandoned in 1994. A drive-in coffee restaurant was proposed in the mid-1990s and a preliminary ARB application was submitted for a new restaurant in 2007, but no formal applications have ever been submitted.
But the new development by Redwood City architect Ken Hayes of the Hayes Group would construct a 5,486-square-foot, three-story mixed-use building with an innovative solar roof and eco-friendly materials and would exceed the city's minimum green-building-standard LEED Silver level, according to Hayes.
Two single-family residential units, each approximately 1,800 square feet, would take up two stories above a 1,866-square-foot retail space. The main living/dining room areas would be on the second floor with three bedrooms and two full baths for each unit on the third floor. Each residential unit would have a balcony and would share a patio on the rooftop of the retail center, which extends beyond the apartments. A small portion of the solar panels would exceed the 40-foot height limit, according to the staff report.
Access to the site would be from both El Camino Real and El Camino Way, to serve the new building and clients of the adjacent VCA Stanford Animal Hospital.
The city's vision for the triangle area includes a "village" setting that combines mixed-use development with "pedestrian-friendly streets," under the 2002 South El Camino Real Design Guidelines and the city's Comprehensive Plan.
The unusually shaped parcels face difficult development constraints, according to City Planner Jason Nortz. The buildings have more than one street face and must front both streets to create a coherent streetscape and to eliminate the current gap-toothed look, he said. The height and mass along El Camino Real can be of a larger scale, but the portion of building facing El Camino Way must be lower and less dense, to fit with the more intimate residential character of the nearby neighborhood.
The new building would address those constraints by tiering the building's mass.
The project asks for a design-enhancement exception to slightly reduce the required 12-foot sidewalk width along El Camino Real to about 10 feet. The request was made because the lot is exceptionally narrow, Nortz said. A formal application is expected to be submitted to the ARB at the end of November, he said.