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Midtown gas station to become retail building?

Original post made on Jan 31, 2008

Although it would be great to replace a vacant gas station on Middlefield Road with a retail/office building, it would be even better to expand the project to include the neighboring Winter Lodge property, the Planning and Transportation Commission agreed Wednesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 31, 2008, 4:57 PM

Comments (21)

Posted by Are-They-Nuts?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2008 at 5:07 pm

> it would be even better to expand the project to
> include the neighboring Winter Lodge property

And how does this generate sales tax, which is what the city needs?

Anybody ask the people on this commission that question?


Posted by sally, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 31, 2008 at 5:17 pm

How about putting another gas station there? An office building will just put more traffic on neighborhood streets. There are no gas stations in Midtown. If we want to treat Midtown like a neighborhood, it needs more services that serve the local residents.


Posted by Nearby homeowner, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 31, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Integrating the two properties, for purposes of parking and traffic flow makes sense, though I do worry about the size of the building and how much free parking the city will be giving to this business.

I hope they consider trafic flows in/out of Towle Way when they plan this out. The left turn out of Towle is dangerous enough now, with Matadero Creek blocking the sight-lines and mid-day traffic routinely going 40 MPH on Middlefield.

They should paint the curb red, from Matadero Creek to the Corner of Towle, to make that left turn less dangerous. (Right now it's russian roullete whenever a van or truck parks there)

Any word on what sort of retail/office space they have in mind? I'd rather see something that serves the neighborhood, rather than attracting additional traffic.


Posted by headscratcher, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2008 at 12:41 am

It's the jobs-housing imbalance [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]!
I cannot for the life of me understand why any zoning change is even considered which increases the amount of non-sales-tax producing office space. Residents do not want it, and it will only serve to increase ABAGs "requirement" for more housing, ruining our city with congestion. ABAG wants more housing, we need retail for tax revenue. What part of that don't people understand?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2008 at 2:52 am

I miss the convenience of the mechanic there. He did good work.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2008 at 9:05 am

Don't get rid of the Ice Rink.

This ice rink is fully utilised and an asset to our community. The free skating, family times and the fact that it can be used for school and other events makes it something that we want to keep where it is.

We are losing the bowling alley, don't allow this to go too. We need more things for our young people to do, not less.

If this ice rink turns into offices it will be a great shame. Put the offices on Bayshore, turn the gas station back into a gas station or some other combined retail development (it will do well as retail because of the ice rink) and save our ice rink.


Posted by Citizen, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2008 at 9:30 am

Walter, we checked with the mechanic,
and unfortunately the feeling is not mutual...


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2008 at 9:52 am

Sometimes I despair of our Commissions. In this case the Planning and Transportation Commission are recommending changes for the sake of making changes, they want to look relevant.

Keeping the footprint of the new retail/business building at the gas station on Middlefield as small as possible should be the way to go. The tennis courts and Winter Lodge are community assets, and should remain that way.


Posted by k, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2008 at 11:55 am

I confess I haven't looked for some time at the property while driving by but I know it's there --- are there still pumps/tanks there? - would there be an expensive "clean up" mandated if there is another use there besides a gas station? Why oh why can't we have that nice, inexpensive gas station back again!?


Posted by Dean, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Don't get rid of the Winter Lodge!! That would be terrible! Replace the gas station, maybe with a recreation facility of some sort, but leave the Winter Lodge alone!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Why not expand the Winter Lodge and then have adult hockey leagues and lessons? This with say a small exercise room and a Starbucks. How about going the whole bit and get a full sized gym for basketball at all levels.


Posted by Not on my watch, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 1, 2008 at 7:05 pm

I agree with Resident. We need more community services, not more rush hour commuters in to this impacted area.

They can't possibly be talking about getting rid of the ice skating rink! That would be sheer insanity. That would be a travesty of justice. Not only is the rink one of the true gems of our city, and a cornerstone of our community, its probably an historical monument. I believe its the only permanent outdoor rinks in ??? Its history was featured one of these 'bay area back roads' type shows I saw several years ago. It has an amazing history - but I can't remember the whole story. I'm sure it was one of the first.

Anyway - It's an icon. These city people are absolutely smoking something if they think this would every fly with the residents. They will raise a stink like they haven't seen in years.

The PTA, schools, churches in the community need to get involved NOW - to protect this business.

If all they want to do is fix the winter lodge parking lot - lets get that straight right now.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2008 at 11:54 pm

Open a Hooters!


Posted by JOE, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2008 at 3:06 am

How about a Trader Joes?


Posted by Parking not Traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2008 at 8:16 am

GET REAL the gas station is dead. It will never reappear. Why, because it lost money and didn't make a profit!!!


Posted by Sheri Furman, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2008 at 1:42 pm

I have both talked to the developer and attended the Planning Commission meeting on this issue. First, the zone change requested (and granted) was to change the zoning to Neighborhood Commercial to allow ground floor retail with offices above. The former owners of the site (BP ARCO) have a provision of no gas station there and they have cleaned up the site toxicity, as well as bearing the burden of future monitoring and/or additional cleanup. Retail on the site would at least generate some sales tax.

Second, at NO time was there ever any talk by the PTC of closing the Winter Lodge. The discussion revolved around the possibility of the City purchasing the former ARCO property and changing its zoning to PF (Public Facilities) to integrate it with the Winter Lodge site, which is zoned PF.

However, it was pointed out that the PF zone has limited allowable uses and perhaps rezoning to CN would allow for integrated retail facilities, such as somewhere for the Winter Lodge patrons to get a bite to eat, etc.

I repeat, the Winter Lodge IS NOT GOING AWAY!


Posted by GBD, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2008 at 2:33 pm

I'm also in the camp of people who wish Midtown had a convenient gas station.

According to the article the property is zoned as a "gas station-only", but when the current owner bought the property from BP there was a provision that the site not be used for a gas station. It reminds me of the situation with the old Albertson site on Alma - the buyer of that site had to promise the seller not to put another supermarket on the site.

I see a pattern - corporation decides to exit an ares, sells property with the provision that the new owner not operate a competing business on the new property, new owner accpets restriction and lets the property sit idle for an extended period until the city is desperate, meanwhile the public loses out.


Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2008 at 2:39 pm

GBD, you make a good point. I am generally a believer in living by the rules. If the current owner bought a "gas only" property with the provision not to put a gas station there, then he took the chance that the city would change the rules. I'd say the city has all the leverage here to either get a gas station or anything they want to try for. If the city gives in, that signals to other owners that they can wait the city out. Better to set an example, have somebody take a real financial bath, and communicate to owners that the city will not give concessions without getting what it wants in return.

I do distinguish between this and putting unreasonable hold-up on within-the-rules development, which seems like the city trying taking rights it does not have. But in this gas, the city seems way within its rights to ask for whatever it can get.


Posted by Martha, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2008 at 5:51 pm

I would love to see a gas station again. By the way. The mechanic who did "good work" now works for the Barron Park Shell station, and I still take my car to him when necessary. I don't Shell gas, though, preferring the Valero or ARCO at Middlefield and San Antonio because of their lower prices.


Posted by John, a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 31, 2008 at 7:45 pm

How does the law apply when painting the curb red? Also, there are plenty of signs for no parking in areas where the road is wide enough for bikes and cars, what is that law?


Posted by tng, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2008 at 5:53 pm

what's the point of every few weeks, cutting the weeds, and creating a pile of unsightly "mess" to be seen by everyone in midtown. it's insulting for our neighborhood. at least clean up the pile.


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