Town Square

Post a New Topic

Edgewood Plaza developer tries to rebuild history

Original post made on Aug 21, 2013

Nearly a year after construction workers, in an ultimate "Oops!" moment, destroyed a historic building at Edgewood Plaza, the developer responsible for the illegal demolition is preparing to make amends by effectively remaking history.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 9:54 AM

Comments (44)

Posted by Karen MV, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:10 am

The new market is "The Fresh Market", not Fresh Choice.

Posted by All worship Eichler, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:20 am

"Nearly a year after construction workers, in an ultimate "Oops!" moment, destroyed a historic building at Edgewood Plaza"

The builders should be commended for ridding the city of this eyesore. Nothing historic about Edgewood, despite our cities fetish with all things Eichler.
Perhaps they should have had to put up a shrine to EIchler at the plaza so his acolytes could come and worship there!!!

The Historic Resource Board is another one of our cities endless number of commissions that do little for the city. Very little actually historic in Palo Alto--just a bunch of people who seem to think that old equals historic.
For example one of the members said:
""but I would seriously worry about putting a modern, totally different building there.""
Yes, god forbid we put anything modern and efficient and useful there--better to have a shoddily built structure because Eichler's name is attached to it.
Maybe the HRB should organize "Eichler Days"--a weekend event in which everything Eichler is celebrated in Palo Alto.

"The new market is "The Fresh Market", not Fresh Choice."
Karen--this is the weekly--not a real newspaper, with real reporters that actually fact check what they write. Articles are tailored to please those that the weekly hopes to profit from.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:24 am

Interesting dilemma now.

Either we get a replica building that fits in with the look of the neighborhood or a modern design that looks like Mikis or Mitchell Park library.

Tough choice.

Whatever we get I do hope it is useful, has proper setbacks and isn't called a village.

Posted by pleased neighbor, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:47 am

Finally some common sense! Those buildings were not well built in the first place--frame on slab. Even not rotted, it would have been impossible to move.

Build to blend in to the neighborhood. Building #2 is being totally rebuilt it seems.

Posted by Pete, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 21, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Those were decrepit buildings that weren't practical. They were reminders of the awful shopping center that once stood there. I'm glad they got rid of them.

Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 21, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Some of you are missing the point. In another example of the "planned community" dance that developers regularly play with city officials Sand Hill AGREED, in order to get the permit, to preserve one of the buildings. They violated their agreement.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Yes, Sylvia, they violated the agreement. But the violation was for the greater good-- ridding this city of that Eichler eyesore. Not sure I understand this blind worship of everything that Eichler did-- even great writers, artists, directors etc. have had one or more bad projects on their resume.
Sometimes I think that this city is so starved to be " historic" or whatever that we end up celebrating mediocrity.

Posted by Gail, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I've been hearing that the new housing being built in this development is only allocating one parking spot per unit. Is this true? If it's true, the neighborhood surrounding this new development will be inundated with cars parking on the streets overnight. Why is our city government always favoring developers instead of protecting the citizens of PA?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Gail-- who have you been hearing this from? If you look at the renderings on their website:

Web Link

You can see that each home has a garage, as well as a parking spot.
Why do,you feel thatbthe neighborhood will be inundated with cars? How many cars do you think each home will have?. Won't the residents of this development be citizens of palo alto?
Please provide some evidence [portion removed.]

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Duveneck Dweller, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 21, 2013 at 8:17 pm

It's amazing that people feel free to trash the Edgewood Shopping Center based on its unfortunate decline. It was once vibrant and a wonderful neighborhood center, with a market, hardware store, and other stores regularly patronized by the neighborhood residents.

What is this anti-Eichler thing? No, his houses were not perfect, but people still live in them and love them. The shopping center had style and did a great service to the community. We can support the regeneration of this area without trashing what has gone before.

Maybe the developer got off easy, I don't know. I wish Palo Alto was a little more vigilant in its monitoring of development. But let's don't pollute the debate with this anti-Eichler rhetoric.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 21, 2013 at 8:24 pm

". But let's don't pollute the debate with this anti-Eichler rhetoric."
It's called a differing opinion from yours. Not everyone in town feels that everything Eichler did was wonderful or of historic importance. This shopping center is a perfect example.
The fact that our council constantly talks about walkable neighborhoods, yet had no problem seeing this center become derelict for Yeats is another matter

Posted by Jeff, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm

The focus is on Sand Hill's wrongful demolition of Building 1.It was a mistake but it will be rebuilt, which due to its condition, needed
to be done anyway, and the final outcome, with the reconstruction of both buildings will conform pretty much to what was envisioned. On the other hand, there is no criticism for the City which over the years and in the recent renovation early this year has done nothing to work with the owner of the Shell station to reduce its visual impact in the signage and canopy, or provide screening in the rear
facing Fresh Market and the reconstructed Eichler buildings. I give
Sand Hill an "A" with an asterisk and I give the City an "F".

Posted by Another neighbor, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Eichler was a developer. They should rename Edgewood plaza after the architect Eicher hired for this project and rename it A. Quincy Jones plaza.
Web Link

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Too much time is going by without use of this convenient, central space.
Let the developer get on with it. As long as the new building is reasonably in scale/sync/design with the center, that should be fine. The old building has been described as damaged, perhaps termite ridden, out of code...the notion that they were required to rehab or rebuild it with the same materials is ridiculous.
It's been TOO MANY YEARS that the City of Palo Alto has forced the Edgewood Center to sit empty and derelict. Compare with the zillions of other local building projects, within City of PA and in vicinity that move ahead at appropriate pace to meet the needs of this region.
I can walk to Edgewood, but right now there is only one destination, the grocery store. I'd like to have more options. Isn't this city all about promoting walking about to services and businesses?

Posted by anonyous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm

By "options," I mean other shops, services, Starbuck's: businesses like that would be great to have in Edgewood Center.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm

As far as what Eichler did and who appreciates it should at least be a separate discussion between the homes and the retail center. I can see both sides of the residential argument...but honestly, the shopping center is hardly Eichler's or Jones'a best effort. If anything, the shopping center proved that not everything looks good if just super-size a building based upon a design elements of a 3 bedroom house.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 22, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Does anyone think of the historical aspects of the shopping center as they drive, cycle or walk by it? I never have. I've thought countless times how ugly it is, well before it was a rundown mess. Now, I'm relieved that there's a grocery store there, & still have no thoughts re the center's historical aspects.

Posted by PaloAltan007, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 22, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Two wrongs don't make a right!

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 22, 2013 at 9:32 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Personally, I could care less if the shopping center was saved.

It was another ho-hum 1950's center (similar to Alma Plaza) that was allowed to deteriorate for various bureaucratic reasons.

What I do object to is the failure to abide by the permit terms.

Oops is just an excuse. Wait for the right time, move fast before a Stop Work order can be issued.
Wink Wink, Oops!

Posted by So, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 8:04 am

Fine him and move on.

Posted by Remembering, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2013 at 11:22 am

Although I'm not a huge Eichler fan, I do like having some structures reminiscent of the Palo Alto of my youth. I like the way the are rebuilding the center, with sound construction, yet looking quite a bit like it used to. But what I would give for Formico's (best Stromboli ever) to come back and inhabit the space near the Fresh Market! I am grateful for the Fresh Market - it's so nice to have a closer place to shop.

Posted by Jim H, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I can see why the contractor demolished the building. It was in TERRIBLE shape and historically would have never won any architectural awards.

The demise of this building didn't happen when the contractor inadvertantly demolished it. Decades of neglect killed whatever value it ever had.

The City of Palo Alto screwed this one up. Not the builder.
From the article, "Beth Bunnenberg called the illegal demolition a "serious issue" and wondered what processes the city can institute to prevent similar mishaps from happening in the future."

Here's the answer Beth. Don't let buildings deteriorate for decades and expect someone else to undue the rot, termites, and general decay.

Good riddance. Let's get on with building a vibrant shopping center to replace this old decrepit strip mall.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Well said, Jim.
The problem the people with this historic fetish is that they wantbto control things without having any financial responsibility. That what was behind holman's failed historic land grab attempt a decade ago.
Same thing happened with the briones house-- it was supposedly a very important historic structure. Palo alto let it get into terrible shape, then they were ringing their hands when it was torn down.
Ms bunnerberg and the rest of the board needs to be retired and replaced with citizens that are willing to invest THEIR money to save whatbthey consider to be " historic".
We are well rid of this eyesore. And, BTW, not everything that Eichler did should be considered historic or worthy of saving, despite the worship of Eichler in this city

Posted by Duveneck Dweller, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Not an issue, it's great to have differences of opinion on these issues. It's just that your anti-Eichler rhetoric is a little overblown. For example: "the worship of Eichler in this city." Some people like Eichlers, some don't. But "worship?" Come on!

You have the right to say what you say, and others have the right to respond when you use exaggerated words and phrases.

As far as maintenance goes, it's the owner of the property who's responsible for that, not the city. And the city had to wait for a developer, who, despite his mistake, did a great job with Fresh Market. I agree with anonymous that it would be great to have a coffee shop there, and I too remember the great pizza at Formico's. I'm looking forward to seeing the buildings rebuilt in the historic Eichler style, and hoping we'll get some terrific little business in there!

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Duveneck dweller-- look at this center for what I am talking about-- nothing really special about it, but because Eichler was attached to it, then it is " historic" .
While the owner of the property may have been responsible for upkeep, if the place was so organs to the city, them they should have done something.
As others also,points out, if this place was so important because of the Eichler connection, then why was the center allowed to become de
Ict. Remember a number of years ago the council was trying to have the neater declared a blighted property!
The important thing about this center is to,turn it into a viable commercial center and not worry if an eyesore is preserved.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 6:30 pm

@Jim H
The "City of Palo Alto screwed this one up" also by never applying
sign control at the Shell station. That's the "serious issue"and
Bennenberg should have asked what steps can be taken "to prevent
similar mishaps from happening in the future".

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I like Eichler Homes, the design of something so plain but beautiful. I am fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, who Eichler based his idea of how homes should be built. He built them but had someone do the design work. Joe Eichler was and still will be a developer with vision. Would have loved to see more Eichler style in shopping center and office buildings.

The Edgewood Shopping Center was a victim of changing retail trends, see bigger and better stores. New shopping centers have been built with large mix of services. Edgewood Center has just been a victim of owner neglect, lack of improvement from its owner.

I think a new Eichler style design for a new shopping center, better use of materials, modern green standards and space for modern stores.

Posted by local resident, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2013 at 8:25 pm

They say the new buildings are made from "modern materials", but exterior is glued chip board which is more prone to degradation over time esp with moisture. So much for so called rebuilding in the original form.

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 24, 2013 at 7:38 am

SteveU is a registered user.

Local Resident

If the construction materials are really so bad, why does the City permit their use?
The City requires (IMHO excessive and expensive) use of over sized/high strength materials (when compared to that used in my, and my neighborhoods 1947's houses that withstood Loma Prieta).

For years, the Shopping center tried to upgrade the structures.
The ARB could have insured the the style matched the area, while meeting the needs of the current business models.

The answer was always NO: Save THAT Eichler. That is Eichler Building worship.

Posted by Duveneck Dweller, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

SteveU, what do you mean by "upgrade" and style matching the area? Are those euphemisms for just another cheap strip mall, with a few token bows to the distinctive Eichler style of the Edgewood Center? As I remember, the ARB had good reasons for turning down the proposals.

Seems to me that the Edgewood Shopping Center was distinctive, attractive, and well-worth saving. Requiring that the actual buildings be retained doesn't qualify as "worship" of Eichler buildings.

Yes, the city does require stronger materials than those used in our 1947 homes. I for one applaud that--the Loma Prieta Earthquake was not the ultimate test of the safety of current buildings.

That may be one small benefit from the developer's "mistake" in tearing down a building without checking with the city. His company should still have to pay a fine for that action.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm

@ Duv Dweller. I remember quite differently than you. The delays, redesigns, extended negotiations, etc. we're forced upon the developer by a small group of St. Francis Eichler fanatics who somehow had gained control of the local neighborhood's CC&Rs.

In fact, they were the ones who forced the developer to agree to keep the alleged historic building (the one that was torn down without notification)...

Posted by Duveneck Dweller, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 24, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Crescent Park Dad, I think StevenU was referring to an earlier process where the property owners wanted to "upgrade" the shopping center but not maintain the character of the buildings. You're right, the process for the current plan was arduous. I happen to agree with those "fanatics" who wanted the character of the center preserved. Alleged historic building? Interesting word choice. Should we take the buildings to court, check out their historical bona fides?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 24, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Duveneck dweller-what character? Because it was an Eichler, it had character? This is one of eichlers misfires. And just because eichlers name is attached to it, does not make it historic
And I say again, if this center was so significant and so historic why was it allowed to degrade into a blighted dump.
The developer did us a favor by destroying that eyesore. I realize that palo alto is sorely lacking in significant architecture, but elevating everything that Eichler did to mythical status is an example of fanatical Eichler worship

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2013 at 6:59 am

SteveU is a registered user.

In this case I was inferring the the replacement structures look or blend smoothly with the Eichler look/style.

I have live in the area since the 60's, Mayfield Mall and the Old Mill had more character, and those were allowed to be replaced.
The threshold to qualify for 'Historic' is way too low.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2013 at 10:09 am

Across the U.S. many post war era shopping centers have been replaced or so altered that you wouldn't know the difference. Just rebuild with better Eichler design features and neighborhood elements, it is funny how the back lash against,modern design.

Eichler is a post war modern developer of tract homes.

Posted by Bob , a resident of Community Center
on Aug 26, 2013 at 9:38 am

I do hope that Fresh Market succeeds, BUT it is pricey on many things, and the number of people I see in there is not that much during the daytime when when women now work outside the home in contrast to the old days of Lucky and early Albertson. I don't see nannies there. You don't see too many fixed income seniors either. Maybe when other stores open, the traffic will pick up. I heard there will be a SuperCuts and also a coffee shop and a cleaners by November. Keeping 'parking lot' crime down or non-existent should also be a #1 priority.

Posted by just wondering, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2013 at 3:16 pm

...don't remember any of those posting negative comments as being at any of the numerous public meeting held on this projects. I do remember Sand Hill Properties being well represented by lawyers, planners, developers, architects, consultants, etc. Also remember the city being well represented by their attorneys, planners, building officials, city council members, ARB, Historic Board members, contract consultants, etc. To suggest that the demolition of this structure was an "OOPS" moment, as suggested by the Palo Alto Weekly, and that the contractor "mistakenly" removed this historic structure is an absolute fraudulent statement. The contractor made a decision to remove this structure knowing that this action would be less expensive rather than restoring a historic building to conditions specified by the contract agreed upon by both their office and the city.
Regarding Historic Board Member Ms. Wimmer's statement regarding the demolition of this historic Eichler structure " I'm not sure that this is a prize-winning example of architecture that belongs in Palo Alto" , well, her prejudiced comment shows the lack of knowledge of Palo Alto architecture and is a slap in the face to hundreds of Eichler homeowners in neighborhoods abutting this project. Her statements might also be construed as litigious, as to negatively affecting property values of Eichler homeowners, resulting in loss of current value and negatively impacting resale value.
It is unfortunate that we have city leaders and city board members who have so easily sold out our city values and historic background to greed. What a pity!

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Just wondering-- regardless of if the developer accidentally destroyed the building or did it on purpose, he did the city a favor. This building was an eyesore with no historic and/or aesthetic value. Just because eichlers name is attached to it does not make it special-- every author, writer, architect, developer etc makes mistakes-- this was one of eichlers
If you feel that ms wimmers comments are " litigious" , then feel free to contact an attorney and bring suit. Not everyone sees these Eichler homes as being the wonders that you claim they are-- they were cheaply built, with little to no insulation and have serious issues with the heating system etc. I do understand the worship of Eichler in paloalto- if we did not have something to worship, we would just be like any other small town.
The important thing is to make sure that Edgewood becomes a viable center, despite the fact that the people who thought. So much of it and the city let it become a derelict ghost town.
And btw-- how do you know who was at the public meetings?

Posted by just wondering, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

[Portion removed.]
How unfortunate that you believe that developers should determine what is appropriate for Palo Alto and that they alone should be held responsible for removing structures that they deem inappropriate.

[Portion removed.]
As your claim to being proficient in Eichler architectural, structural and mechanical limitations, perhaps you might provide your qualifications as to knowledgeable schooling practices that allowed you to form your limited opinion regarding Eichler single family home and commercial building structures.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 28, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Why are my beliefs unfortunate, just wondering? I did not say the developer should determine what is appropriate. I just said he did the city a favor. You will get a well built replacement that looks like your beloved Eichler.

You can read this link as a start:
Web Link
There are many others available for,your perusal. And, btw, I never claimed to be proficient in Eichler architecture. However living in a city with an Eichler- complex, one gets to know about all the problems.

So,how do you know if the posters were at the meetings, just wondering?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm

More reading material for you, just wondering:
Web Link

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm

OK - I'll contribute. I remodeled an Eichler in PA. I have plenty of examples of how badly an Eichler can be built.
- Radiant heat in the floors that failed due to rust and cracking.
- No insulation in the exterior walls
- No insulation in the roof
- No weather gaskets for any of the glazing - windows leaked air
- Bare electrical wires connecting outlets (back to back bathrooms)
- Two bathrooms on the same electrical circuit
- Exposed exterior beams that were not flashed - rotting instead
- Gas line buried only 3" inches in the patio slab instead of at least 18" below grade.
- Framing not bolted to slab
- Tub faucets on same side of bathroom as sinks, creating dangerous access to faucets
- Extremely flammable interior wood paneling
- Wood siding installed at grade, not 3" above grade to prevent termite infestation
- No sewer line clean out at front of house or at end of the line (back of house)
- No water supply shut-off valve at house, only in the street at the meter (requiring large "T" wrench to work)
- Fresh water lines buried under slab - impossible to repair/replace/move
- Hot water lines were not insulated

I could go on.

And I'll say it again - the old Edgewood center was a perfect example of how you cannot apply the central design elements of a 3-bedroom house to a building 4-20x its size.

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

On Tour at Selective Schools: Chapman, La Verne, Redlands, Whittier
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,878 views

The dress code
By Jessica T | 17 comments | 1,742 views

Two Days to Save This Dog?
By Cathy Kirkman | 15 comments | 1,160 views

. . . People will never forget how you made them feel.
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,135 views

It Depends... Disguising Real Characters in Fiction
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 379 views