SWANKY SPORTS CARS COMING ... Palo Alto has been chosen as one of only 10 showrooms in the U.S. to launch a new, high-end sports car.
McLaren Automotive, the British race-car brand, will soon produce a street-legal version of the vehicle. Although the car won't be available until next summer, the buzz has already arrived. McLaren will take over the former Carlsen Volvo spot at El Camino Real and Arastradero Road.
The swanky two-seater, with an estimated retail cost of $225,000 to $250,000, will be represented by Tom Price of Price Family Dealerships. "We are very excited to be selected as one of the first retailer candidates worldwide by McLaren," Price said.
Palo Alto's McLaren's showroom will be about 4,500 square feet. The cars, all handmade in the U.K., will feature clam-shell doors, which open up and out. A second Palo Alto showroom is planned at the same location. This one, also at 4,500 square feet, will focus on another upscale brand -- Fisker Automotive. The Fisker Karma is billed as "the first luxury plug-in hybrid," with a starting price of $87,900. Both showrooms are expected to open next spring.
Other signs that Palo Alto may have turned the corner in its concern about losing car dealerships (and sales-tax revenues) include expansions of major dealerships: Magnussen Toyota at San Antonio and Middlefield roads, and Anderson Honda (1766 Embarcadero Road), in addition to expansions of Park Avenue Motors (3290 Park Blvd.) and Carlsen Volvo (4180 El Camino Real). Magnussen Toyota held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday evening for a big expansion across Middlefield from its present site.
HOTELS DELAYED; ECONOMY BLAMED ... The one-month-old Pattaya Thai restaurant, adjoined to Palo Alto Bowl at 4329 El Camino Real, is the first clue that the bowling alley has been given a temporary reprieve from demolition -- as in a reported 4-year lease extension.
Pattaya has replaced the old Thai Garden restaurant, and construction plans are now on hold for the planned four-story hotel that was to be built on that site. Seems the economy needs to show some strength in the hotel segment before building will begin, according to hotel-industry sources.
Also on hold are plans to turn Ming's Restaurant at 1700 Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto into a hotel. The original project, which was recently approved by the City Council, called for a smaller restaurant and a 147-room hotel. Planning and subsequent construction are expected to resume once the economy bounces back, Ming's owner Vicky Ching said. She added that it's difficult for banks to see their way to finance hotels, which are struggling, but that the city approvals are good for several years. "So for now we're going to concentrate on the restaurant."
HELLO, VINCE; GOODBYE, ARTHUR ... The luxury clothing store with a great-sounding name is coming to Stanford Shopping Center this month. "Vince" will open its 14th boutique as part of a major retail expansion.
Known for cashmere and leather contemporary clothing, Vince goes for the "casual chic" look and is big on comfort. A farewell to Arthur Beren, the designer shoe store in the middle of the mall that closed last month. Arthur Beren in San Francisco's Union Square will remain open.
And one more shoe store recently closed at Stanford: The Walking Company is gone. Storefront windows are blacked out. No word yet on what will replace it.