A housing developer and the Palo Alto school district have competing designs on a rare 3-acre parcel that will be available for development next summer.
The property, at 525 San Antonio Road, has for decades been occupied by the Peninsula Day Care Center. But the center's owner, Herman Shaw of Palo Alto, plans to close his 35-year-old establishment in June and retire.
The parcel is under contract to be sold to a developer, who wants to build 26 single-family 3- and 4-bedroom homes.
Completion of the sale depends on the developer, the privately held SummerHill Homes, obtaining a rezoning allowing greater density from the city.
Meanwhile, Palo Alto School Superintendent Kevin Skelly confirmed the school district also is interested in acquiring the property.
"We're discussing it internally and have had preliminary discussions with SummerHill," Skelly said.
SummerHill Senior Vice-President Katia Kamangar said the firm knows of the district's interest.
"We've heard they have a potential interest in this land, and they took it to a closed session of their board," Kamanger said.
"In terms of what their intent is, it's not clear, but it's out there."
A member of the Shaw family said they have not been contacted by the district.
"We are pleased to consummate a contract with SummerHill Homes," family member Victor Martindale said.
"They are a Palo Alto-based home builder with a great reputation for infill development and working constructively with neighbors."
The San Antonio parcel backs up to the district's Greendell School site, which is now accessible through the Middlefield Road entrance to the Cubberley Community Center.
The Greendell campus currently houses the district's PreSchool Family and Young Fives programs.
With booming enrollment, particularly at the elementary level, the district has been scouting broadly for more classroom space.
"A piece of infill property in this community is of interest," Skelly said.
"One of our biggest challenges is providing enough capacity for all of our students. This could be part of that solution.
"I don't know exactly what we envision. It would have to be discussed with the perspective of all kinds of competing needs here," he said.
"We're looking at enrolling another 200-plus kids this year."
Palo Alto K-12 enrollment stands at 12,024, according to 2010-2011 figures released Thursday.
An additional 344 students showed up this fall, with the majority of those -- 236 -- at the elementary level.
Ever since a post-Baby Boom nadir in 1989-1990 when student headcount was 7,452, Palo Alto school enrollment has been on a steady upward trajectory.
Historically, enrollment peaked in 1967-1968 at 15,575.
The district is building for anticipated growth in a $378 million bond-financed construction program -- now underway -- that will touch every campus.
New, two-story classroom buildings are planned for many sites, including Gunn and Palo Alto high schools, JLS Middle School and Ohlone and Fairmeadow elementary schools.
"Our commitment in our bond program is to have the capacity for the kids that are coming here, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down," Skelly said.
In a talk before neighbors assembled at the Greenmeadow Community Center Wednesday night, SummerHill's Kamangar described plans for 26 single-family homes to be built under the new "village residential" zoning category.
The new homes, each with a two-car garage, would be built on a loop road with two access points to the frontage road along San Antonio. The private road -- 32 feet from curb to curb with parking on one side -- would comply with Palo Alto's new private-street ordinance.
The parcel's current zoning -- R1 -- allows six or seven homes per acre. A "village residential" designation would permit eight to 12 homes per acre, and SummerHill's current plans are for 8.75 homes per acre, Kamangar said.
Traffic impacts from the new homes would be less than one-tenth of the traffic currently generated by the child care center, with its large buses, 400 children and 30 employees, Kamangar said.
In addition to Greendell School to its rear, the site is bounded by Eichler-style homes on Ferne Avenue and apartments on Byron Street.
SummerHill, the residential subsidiary of real estate broker and investment advisor Marcus & Millichap, has a long history of award-winning building in the Palo Alto area.
Recent projects have included the former downtown site of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation roughly bounded by Waverley Street, Homer Avenue, Bryant Street and Channing Avenue; Redwood Gate on the Palo Alto Elks Club site; and Lane Woods, across from the Sunset magazine campus in Menlo Park.