A five-story building featuring offices, retail and residential units would go up on the site of a former Shell gas station in downtown Palo Alto under a proposal recently submitted to the city.
The 64-foot-tall building is proposed for 355 Alma St., at Lytton Avenue. The site was occupied by the Commuter Shell Service for 42 years before the gas station closed in June 2010.
The new building would include four stories of office space, along with retail on the ground floor and five residential units on the fifth floor, according to city planning director Curtis Williams. The development would include both underground and at-grade parking and public open space on Lytton.
The developer, Lytton Gateway LLC, is requesting a zone change to a create planned-community (PC) zone on the site. The zoning designation allows developers to build at a greater intensity than the city's regulations typically allow. In exchange, developers must offer the city "public benefits."
In recent years, projects seeking a PC-zone designation have received an increasing amount of scrutiny from planning commissioners and local land-use watchdogs. Several recent high-profile projects with this zoning designation -- a list that includes Alma Plaza and the College Terrace Centre -- received approval only after heated community meetings, multiple revisions and criticism from residents who argued that the public benefits being offered are too paltry to compensate the city for the increased density.
Lytton Gateway, LLC, is proposing to both exceed the city's density regulations and its 50-foot height limit for buildings. Williams said in an e-mail that the applicant requested the increased intensity and height because of the building's close proximity to the downtown Caltrain station.
The Planning and Transportation Commission is scheduled to review the application and consider the zone change on March 16.