Moving of Edgewood Plaza buildings approved


Proposed redevelopment of Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center took another step forward Wednesday morning.

Members of the Palo Alto Historic Resources Board agreed by a 6-to-1 vote that the proposed relocation of one of the buildings in the Eichler-developed shopping center and addition of 10 homes would not significantly alter the historic nature of the site.

The board also found that planned rehabilitation of the two historic buildings is adequate.

Board member Beth Bunnenberg was the dissenting voter, raising concerns that moving the building closest to Embarcadero Road into the existing parking area adjacent to St. Francis Drive would impact the historic nature of the site.

"I still have major concerns about moving (the) building.Part of the genius of Eichler's design was to take a new lpok at how people were living," she said, adding thatthe shopping center echoes the indoor/outdoor feeling of his homes, with its walls of glass and paseos between buildings.

Board member Roger Kohler said the argument that the buildings should stay as they are "is not a good one." If the layout was viable the property would not be run down, he said.

"It was a detriment to success," he said.

Board Chairman Scott Smithwick agreed.

"Just because something is original doesn't make it good. The plan now keeps the key concepts and enhances it and makes it viable for today," he said.

Michael Makinen, another board member, praised developer Sandhill Property's proposed design.

"Joseph Eichler would not be disappointed" if he was alive today, Makinen said. "It returns the shopping center to a state of usefulness."

The Planning Commission will review the development's Environmental Impact Report on Oct. 26. The Architectural Review Board will review the proposal on Nov. 3.

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Like this comment
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2011 at 10:38 am

How much less significant can you get than this '60s strip mall that was thrown up originally as a sales office for Eichlers. That this has been a decade long "issue" is embarrassing.

Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

The fallacy is that this shopping center is actually historic. There is nothing historic about it--just the continued worship of something with the name of Eichler attached to it. I agree with commonsense that it is an embarrassment how long this has dragged on--of course given the soap opera involving Alma Plaza, it should not come as a surprise.
I do hope, however, that the remodeling will not cause any new traffic into the city--especially down Embarcadero Road.

Like this comment
Posted by Fed up with Eichler
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

These thing is an eye sore and drain on neighborhood property values. Give us a nice supermarket, stores and a few residences.

If the the Palo Alto Historic Resources Board thinks this is historic let them start covering the costs.

The City Council needs to more this forward fast as it only shows how long and incompetent a project can be run. Take a quick pole and you will find you are being guided by the wrong people.

How do we get the majority of the neighborhood back involved in this?

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

The sooner this project gets underway and is completed the better. This site is ideal for a decent sized supermarket so that we do not have to drive out of town to get our one stop grocery needs.

Like this comment
Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2011 at 11:51 am

EWP has been a civic soap opera for too many, many years, complicated by Frank Benest's desire to make it into a Redevelopment Agency project (his forte).Once there was a nice plan for it originally then the city said what IT wanted what was NOT what the neighborhood wanted, then Benest got a designer and cooked up a so-called 'neighborhood committee' which it was really not, spent tons of money designing something to stuff down the throats of the neighborhood which then rebelled. Only until the old social problems that plagued EWP are solved, will that place ever be a success. And historic? Maybe to a few people but to the greater and wider neighborhood majority, no-it is not historic except to maybe those who live in an Eichler. The majority of a wider area does not live in an Eichler. EWP is an eyesore. To Historic Resources Board - get over it.

Like this comment
Posted by MA
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2011 at 11:58 am

Move them to the dump!!

Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Here is an article from 2008:
Web Link

Note the headline:
"'New Edgewood Plaza' plans nearly complete
A 14,500-square-foot grocery store lease is expected to be signed soon, developer says"

and in the 3.5 years since that article, we have gotten nowhere.

The city loves to whine about traffic and talks about "walkable neighborhoods"--it is all lip service.

Like this comment
Posted by Chiming In
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2011 at 12:15 pm

There is no dilapidated, run-down structure that someone in this town does not think has historic value. The Eichlers might have been ground breaking in their day but I see no redeeming value in them. Let the developer develop Edgewood into a desirable shopping destination with at least a grocery store and a coffee shop. It is about time.

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I do hope that when the new .22 acre park goes in the powers that be can put a marker on a bench or install a plaque somewhere honoring the members of the Muekmwa (Ohlone Indian tribe) that inhabited and were buried on this land. This is a small act of remembrance that should be strongly considered. As a child growing up in the 50's right next to the Eichler tract (and the Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center) I witnessed the unearthing of remains of some the natives who were the first inhabitants of this land. In the 1950's burial mounds were not afforded the same degree of respect and no big efforts to honor those remains were taken. I think that many of those remains are still under the buildings and probably many of the homes. The building crews should be mindful of this possibility when re-excavating this land. I spoke with one of the developeres some time ago and he seemed supportive about putting a marker on this land. He said, however, that proof would have to be provided (ie a newspaper article) but I was not able to locate one from the PA Times nor was I able to get linked up with the woman at Stanford who is in charge of all such archeological records. Are not the eye witness accounts of several native Palo Alto kids (now approaching senior citizens) enough proof to warrant action on this????? Thanks for all of those people who have expressed support for this idea (the marker that is). We now have the opportunity to do the right thing here.

Like this comment
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Which building is going to be saved and how much will it cost to move it?

Like this comment
Posted by When?
a resident of Duveneck School
on Oct 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm

When will this be done? Shouldn't there be a schedule and a plan?
- or better yet, which City employee is responsible for moving this forward?

I like the idea of making the "historical" neighborhood association pay for the extra cost of delays they create in dealing with this run down center. If they don't want to pay more forward without them.

Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Another article that helps feed the Edgewood Plaza is historic frenzy:

Web Link

"Where is this place you ask? It is Palo Alto’s Edgewood Plaza, the landmark shopping center created by the legendary Palo Alto-based builder Joseph Eichler to complement the Eichler neighborhood that embraces it. The offices of this visionary builder once looked out over this unique and now threatened resource.Edgewood Plaza's importance to our local and national architectural history cannot be overstated. It was designed by A. Quincy Jones, a renowned California architect of the modern era, and was built by J. Eichler from 1955 to 1958 to complement and serve its Eichler neighborhood. Mr. Eichler built many homes in many communities, but Edgewood is his only shopping center. Its design and purpose are quintessentially mid-century American."

Maybe when the center is redone, we can commission a giant statue of Eichler, so that the local historic biffs can come and worship. I am sure it will also be a major place to visit for tourists--make sure that it is included in Destination Palo Alto/
All worship Eichler!!!

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Please move forward all engines ahead. Appalling derelict eyesore embarrassment. I feel sorry for the owner and developer.
I would have no problem with knocking everything down - YEARS ago - but will take what is possible given the tremendous constraints of this city and some area residents.

-from an area resident
former owner of multiple Eichler homes (Which this "shopping ctr" doesn't resemble in the SLIGHTEST)

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Moving it? You're kidding. That's a waste of time and money. Those buildings are all tear-downs. If they are historic, then they are simply historic examples of ugly architecture.

Like this comment
Posted by Chiming In
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

There were folks in the St Francis neighborhood who filed lawsuits to delay construction. I suggest that they fund the moving of the building.

Like this comment
Posted by garyd
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Wow! I am almost incredulous about some of these comments.

For people in Palo Alto, of all places, to be willing/eager to to favor something just because it is better than what currently exists, rather than something better that could reasonably be - at the very least causes me to question their appreciation of aesthetics (and perhaps even their self-interest). And, I am not referring to simply "moving a building" or this being simply an "historic issue', but to the overall plan with the wall of housing - with appropriate apologies for sounding whatever, hopefully the "locals" do not want this to be another Fresno, Modesto, Santanna Row, etc..

We have a unique opportunity here that should not be squandered.

Like this comment
Posted by litebug
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 1:26 am

svatoid, I believe that the discussions and meetings go back earlier than 2008. That was the year we moved from Palo Alto to Oregon. I'd gone to multiple meetings about Edgewood Plaza for at least a couple of years before that.

Like this comment
Posted by Old Palo Alto Gal
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2011 at 2:21 am

@ Litebug - Glad to see you back on line. We miss your input! I hope you decide to move back here someday. I remember writing on this blog - "Litebug, please don't go", but it was too late.
I grew up here, and attended many of these meetings a long time ago regarding Edgewood Plaza. I'm sure we know one another.

You know how Palo Alto is, it takes forever to get things done.
It is frustrating, but it has been this way for 50 years!

Hope you guys decide to move back.
Glad you are staying in touch via paloaltoonline.

Like this comment
Posted by CC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:18 am

I don't understand why someone would want to keep a building that burns as fast as an Eichler does. They scare me!
In this very paper on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 was an article about how fast one burned.
In other homes at least the firemen can save part of the home from burning.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

CC, I was wondering the same thing. Maybe since there's a fire station just down the street they think it's okay.

Seriously, these buildings are even uglier than many of the Eichlers - & I thought that when they were viable. Does this mean that the Indian center will be moved? Is that they building the article refers to?

Like this comment
Posted by Sandy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I grew up here, too, and Edgewood Plaza was ugly when it was built and is still ugly now. The only good thing about it was that there was a grocery store, and we didn't have to go so far to buy food. Eichler, incidentally, was not an architect, people--he was a BUILDER and hired architects to design cheap, "modern" houses (which burn to the ground before our incredibly efficient firefighters can get there, usually within five minutes). As for the shopping center, it's almost as unsightly as the old Safeway shopping center on El Camino in Menlo Park, which has been completely torn down and rebuilt. So all the Eichler fanatics should take a good, thoughtful look at the ugly buildings they whined about until someone gave in and refused to let the builder tear them down.

Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 21, 2011 at 1:02 am

I'm usually for preserving most anything that has some historic value .. but the old Lucky Store and that run down cheesy mall where all the bums hang out when the police are not sitting in the parking lot should be eviscerated and something nice and new - AND USEFUL, should be built in its place.

I doubt anything usefull will get built there ... the area is not that big. If they put underground parking and use it for something like a market or shops, there will be too much traffic congestion ... does anyone know how long it takes to get from Embarcadero onto the 101 South around 5pm now ... it can take 15 to 20 minutes just to get onto the freeway sometimes.

This place is a problem zone. TEAR IT THE HECK DOWN ... and then put something reasonable there please.

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

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