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Palo Alto approves downtown 'Gateway' building
Original post made
on May 15, 2012
Downtown Palo Alto will soon have a prominent new "gateway" building next to the Caltrain station, though the glassy new development won't be as tall or ambitious as the one originally proposed. ==B Related material:==
Editorial: Money as a 'public benefit'?]
Guest Opinion: Even without housing, Gateway offers many benefits]
Guest Opinion: Gateway project breaks all of city's zoning rules]
Parking concerns central in Lytton Gateway meeting]
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 1:06 AM
Posted by Robert
a resident of Stanford
on May 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm
re 1. These CC members have a certain notion of what makes a city dynamic and that seems to include incessant business development, building more and more dense housing, and bringing more taxes into the city coffers to enable them to do other things.
I happen to have a rather different notion of what makes a city outstanding and it's not populating it with congestion-exacerbating, architecturally mediocre buildings. It has more to do with convivial space, superb architecture, plantings, park space, distinctive shops selling with character selling quality goods, and tranquil pedestrian zones, and quality public art, among other features.
re 2. I'd be perfectly happy to cease using "monstrosity" to apply to some of the more recent buildings erected in PA. I'll just use terms like "ugly," "unsuitable," and "decidedly lacking in taste." You want examples? Check out the high rise at University and Cowper, the Cheese Factory building, and other delights.
re 3. You wrote, "But the city wants people to come downtown--businesses, shopping, restaurants etc. They want the tax revenue. You cannot complain about the traffic on one hand and say you want people in downtown on the other hand (again this is a general statement--not referring to you in particular)." There can be too much of a good thing, including people coming downtown. I trust you'd agree that letting increased tax revenue be a deciding factor in urban planning makes no sense. If the downtown area gets too congested and tawdry people are going to start staying away from the downtown area. It's going to become too much of a hassle to go there. We're on the way to that situation now, with the two hour parking limits so that people are making brief forays downtown to buy something or eat at a restaurant, but that just makes the center of the city a consumption junction. There's got to be more to a great city than that. Thank god we've got the Stanford Theater there to induce people to come and watch quality films. University Avenue should be blocked off to traffic so people could come and walk in the streets in a leisurely manner and not have to always be wary about traffic and getting a parking ticket.
re 5, you wrote, "You do not have to worry about PA being populated with franchise stores--the city has made sure that no national chain will ever want to deal with the PA process." Don't be so sure about that: CVS pharmacy, Cheesecake Factory, Walgreens, Restoration Hardware, Fidelity, Pizza My Heart, Verizon, Starbucks, etc. They're multiplying. Pretty soon places like Mills the Florist will be eliminated by the greedy landlords who own the property there and who don't care a fig about what their decisions mean for the quality of downtown Palo Alto. Worse yet, they believe that the operation of the free market will somehow magically produce a wonderful downtown center. Let's just see what happens to the space that Border's used to occupy. That was a rare space that brought people together, as did Printers Inc, and now there's nothing like that between Keplers and Mountain View.
Finally you wrote, "Again, in general, we have the usual doom and gloom complaints (many from the usual gang of malcontents) who wan to freeze PA in a 1960's-like time capsule." There's a whole spectrum of possibilities between "freezing Palo Alto in a 1960s-like time capsule" and allowing the downtown area to deteriorate like it is and be plagued with congestion. What I want is a QUALITY built environment in downtown Palo Alto, one that brings people together for more than quick purchases and meals, and the so-called "Gateway" building -- that phrase as tossed around by the developer and as touted mindlessly by the City Council is a bloody farce; what kind of a "Gateway" will that building be? In what sense? -- is not conducive to that end. It's going to help make Palo Alto more and more a place for non-residents to come, park, and buy and eat quickly and then retreat back to their quiet areas. The people who actually live in or near the downtown area are going to be squeezed more and more by the congestion and pollution and that is very sad. It has already happened in the North Beach area of San Francisco; it's been reshaped into a tourist magnet and significant parts of the area that the locals used to live in and enjoy is now increasingly irrelevant to them.
In any event, sincere best wishes to you, svatoid.