Real Estate

University South

A perfect location with a strong sense of community

Nestled in between Palo Alto's most exciting places, Kathryn Verwillow raves about the location of her neighborhood.

"The neighborhood is only three-fourths of a mile from downtown and eight blocks from Stanford," she said. "It is the perfect location."

Verwillow, a resident since 2003, said the sense of community is strong in the neighborhood, too. Each year her block on Kingsley Avenue hosts a block party for the whole neighborhood on the first Saturday after school starts. "It is like summer's last gasp," she said.

This year the party had a bouncy house for the young children and a 20-foot-tall blue and orange bouncy slide for the older kids.

When the kids were on the slide, squeals of delight poured out in every direction. The kids flew down the slide and bounced onto an inflatable-rubber surface. Verwillow said there was a first-aid kit at the ready.

Two young girls dragged their father toward the coolers when they arrived at the block party; they were in need of juice boxes. Verwillow said the party usually gets up to 200 residents during the potluck, ranging from middle-class to the high reaches of the upper class.

"On this block there was a house sold for $10 million and another sold for a little under $900,000," she said.

But, location is the main attraction to this more than 100-year-old community.

Eric Nee, a journalist at Stanford, has lived in University South since 1998. He said he enjoys riding his bike to work everyday and also said the location of the neighborhood is the best aspect.

"It is the most urban of the suburban communities," he said. "Everything is in walking distance."

However, the great location of University South has brought some problems with the continued expansion of Palo Alto.

The city designated two-hour parking streets at the edge of the neighborhood to accommodate downtown workers. According to long-time resident Michael Hodos, this influx of cars has created a big parking issue.

"Residents without driveways will go to run an errand and have to park blocks away from their houses," Hodos said. "I once saw a woman walk a block back and forth several times just to put away her groceries."

Hodos has lived in the neighborhood since 1978 and said that there used to be ample parking. Now, he said he has to help his neighbor and play "musical cars" to ensure a parking spot is available.

The parking problems spill into the historic district of Professorville -- named for the Stanford professors who lived there -- which is surrounded by University South. When Stanford opened in 1891, there was little near the campus. According to Palo Alto Historian Steve Staiger, the city of Palo Alto was formed because Stanford needed a city surrounding it.

"You can't tell the story of Stanford without talking about Palo Alto," Staiger said.

The area that is now called University South was the original Palo Alto because it was the closest walking distance to the university, according to Staiger.

Because of this, University South has homes that are more than 100 years old. But since the neighborhood lies outside the historic borders of Professorville, renovations on homes can be done with much less red tape to cut through.

Staiger said he hopes to continue University South's tradition of history by opening the Palo Alto Historical Museum within the neighborhood's boundaries. The new museum will be housed in the Roth Building on Homer Avenue, which used to house Palo Alto's original clinic.

Construction could start on the museum as early as spring of 2011, if the Palo Alto Historical Association raises the adequate funds, Staiger said.


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. (temporarily closed for renovations)

LOCATION: Bounded by Homer Avenue, Alma Street, Embarcadero and Middlefield roads

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

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Like this comment
Posted by Jared Bernstein
a resident of University South
on Nov 14, 2010 at 10:09 pm

The print edition shows an "old" house on Byron.
If I'm not mistaken, that house (on the west side of Byron, near Addison School) is about 10 years old but built in the old style.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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