What makes University South stand out?
Longtime resident Joe Shakes laughed as he answered, "You may be able to hear it right now: a lot of new construction — constant, constant construction."
Spanning between University Avenue and Embarcadero Road, Alma Street and Middlefield Road, University South is mostly a residential area on the edge of downtown Palo Alto.
"It's a very, very large neighborhood ... so it's hard for me to generalize," said Elaine Meyer, the president of the University South Neighborhood Association. "There is a mixture of people. That's the nice thing about it."
Housing everything from Palo Alto's very first residence built in 1890, when the city was still called University Park, to the modern development of Facebook.com in 2004, University South is a neighborhood for people of all ages, interests and backgrounds.
As one of the older neighborhoods in Palo Alto, University South has a rich history — including the famous Addison Avenue garage beginnings of Hewlett Packard Company.
"I like the oldness of it," Meyer said. However, with constant construction happening, University South is quickly changing, Meyer said.
In early 2006, the four-story 800 High St. housing complex was completed.
"It's a close-knit neighborhood feel. ... Living here, you wouldn't need to go more than three or four blocks to get everything you need. ... It really works perfectly for us," Joop Verbaken, who moved into the complex with his wife and two children, said. "It is a very nice, modern-styled building with a lot of features."
A new three-story office and condo building at Homer Avenue and Bryant Street — including a two-story underground garage — will soon surround the old A.M.E. Zion Church.
Another significant addition to University South is Palo Alto Heritage Park, which was dedicated in 2004. On the corner of Waverley Street and Homer Avenue, this grassy 2-acre park is one of University South's main attractions for families, said Shakes, who has lived in the area with his wife for 20 years.
"We love it; it has been a nice addition. It's good to see kids there now. You see adults too, playing soccer or just sitting down and reading a good book."
Behind the new playground, the old Roth Building is being renovated into the Palo Alto History Museum. Across the street from that are the Museum of American Heritage as well as newer apartments and condominiums.
Gwen Williams, who relocated to University South with her husband and two young children in 2001, finds it very child-friendly.
"We have great access to all the schools and we have great access to downtown, but we're far enough away from 101 so we feel very much like we're a neighborhood here," she said.
According to Shakes, the neighbors of University South are very friendly with one another. They exchange pleasantries in their driveways and they discuss the latest news in the aisles of Whole Foods.
Meyer said the neighbors even throw block parties with one another and also have their own traditions.
"The convenience of living downtown is quite attractive," Shakes said. "And, I know most of the people in the neighborhood. ... We all know each other, and without being too nosy, it gives us a sense of security."
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Addison Kids' Club, 650 Addison Ave.; Children's Creative Learning Center Downtown Child Care Center, 848 Ramona St.; First School, 625 Hamilton Ave.; The Learning Center, 459 Kingsley Ave.
FIRE STATION: No. 1, 301 Alma St.
LIBRARY: Downtown branch, 270 Forest Ave.
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Elaine Meyer, 650-325-8057
PARKS: Scott Park, Scott Street and Channing Avenue; Palo Alto Heritage Park, Homer Avenue and Waverley Street
POST OFFICE: Hamilton, 380 Hamilton Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Addison Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School
SHOPPING: University Avenue, Town & Country Village