Superintendent: district still on track to buy land

Housing developer meanwhile gets nod for 10-home project on San Antonio Road

The Palo Alto school district is still on track to acquire a coveted 2.6-acre parcel on San Antonio Road, school officials said.

Meanwhile, a housing developer Monday obtained City Council approval to build 10 large homes on the site in case the school deal falls apart.

The transaction, in which title will transfer from the current owner to the housing developer and then to the school district, is set to close November 1.

"At this point it appears we're moving forward," school Superintendent Kevin Skelly said Tuesday, following a Board of Education discussion of the deal in closed session.

"Until it closes, things can happen, but we're fairly confident it will close," he said.

The site at 525 San Antonio Road has been the subject of much speculation and negotiations between developer SummerHill Homes and the Palo Alto Unified School District, which is eyeing the site for a new school. The land is adjacent to Cubberley Community Center and Greendell Elementary School and school officials view it as a possible palliative to the recent spike in student population, particularly in south Palo Alto.

The negotiations haven't stopped SummerHill in pursuing approval from the city for a 10-home development -- a proposal SummerHill had dramatically scaled down after failing to get the city's approval for a denser project. The council had previously rejected SummerHill's request for a zone change, which would have enabled construction of 23 new homes.

This time, SummerHill had no such troubles. The council voted unanimously with little discussion to approve the project, which complies with the existing zoning regulations. Councilman Greg Scharff thanked SummerHill for listening to the city's direction and coming back with a proposal that's "fully in conformance" with the city's zoning ordinance.

"It looks like a good project," Scharff said.

Katia Kamangar, vice president at SummerHill, said the company is still in the process of negotiating the sale of the property to the school district. She said the district is "still in their analysis phase." The site had previously housed Peninsula Day Care Center, which closed in June after about 35 years.

Kamanger said the company wanted to get the city's approval for a new development to provide closure for the property owners, who she said are planning for retirement and "deserve to have a productive use for their land."

"Our land-use application provides them with this assurance," Kamangar said.

The school district has not specifically outlined what it plans to do with the property. Skelly said the board will discuss possible interim uses at its next regular meeting Oct. 25.

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Like this comment
Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Oct 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

To the Palo Alto City Council: Congratulations! Once again you are throwing the South Palo Alto concerns, the schoolchildren of South Palo Alto, and the PAUSD under the bus.

Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm

If the School District had really wanted the property at 525 San Antonio, they should have jumped in when it first came onto the market but they waited until the deal with Summerhill had been made and then said they might want it.

Summerhill is being very generous, they are prepared to sell it to the District at the going rate. Meanwhile, since the School District doesn't know what they want to do either Cubberley or Greendell they should not even consider buying 525 San Antonio. They must have a plan first.

Like this comment
Posted by BMR Lover
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm

How many BMR homes will be given away for $200,000 in a development that 99% of non-BMR families won't be able to afford to purchase at the market rate? These homes will be $$$ if the lot sizes are 10,000 sq ft. ($3M+?).

Like this comment
Posted by Edward
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Palo Alto is just hell bent on turning San Antonio Road into a f'g parking lot. There is huge development on the old Sear's site just down the road, the private school across the street from the lot in this area has lame parents parking their SUVs right in the road, there is discussion about the Charleston x San Antonio frontage near the freeway being developed, the construction of a Mosque near the Jewish center and now this. Its as I said before, whenever there is talk of making the roads more efficient to alleviate traffic (ripping out all the big trees along San Antonio) you can bet your a.. the next thing that is going to happen is more development along the improved corridor which creates more traffic which takes us right back to where we were or in most instance worse in regard to traffic congestion.

Like this comment
Posted by trees&homes
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm

STILL Need the trees, along with the new houses...

Like this comment
Posted by good
a resident of Southgate
on Oct 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Our school district will probably get the land cuz there are not much profit for the developer with only 10 homes to build.

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm

No more housing please and let us keep our trees! A grocery store to replace the old Lucky on Alma would be nice and would be heavily utilized.

Like this comment
Posted by varnish
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2011 at 9:52 pm

i believe it is fair to say that this is a "just wait and see" superintendent. And he's at it again.

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

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