Real Estate

The Greenhouse


Susie Mitchell describes The Greenhouse, a set of two adjoining condominium complexes at the southernmost end of Palo Alto, as just the perfect location.

"It's so convenient and so quiet," said Mitchell, who has lived in Palo Alto and environs for much of her life and moved to The Greenhouse in 2005. She found it a far cry from the Sharon Heights complex where she had been the youngest on her floor.

Today she enjoys the variety in ages and nationalities of Greenhouse residents.

"It's a very diverse complex," she said, pointing to the Russian family living next door, the Chinese residents on the floor below and the retired Stanford librarian who is from Bulgaria.

Named for the original purpose of the land, which was part of Bell's Nurseries, Greenhouse I and II were developed by the Alpha Land Company in 1975 and 1978 respectively. The 15-acre property is dotted with trees, walking paths, lawns -- even a par course.

"It's one of the few condo complexes with grounds, where you can look out your window and see trees," noted Lee Thé, who has lived there with his wife Phyllis since 1986. The couple has one of the 40 larger three-bedroom, two-bath units, among the 140 condos in Greenhouse I. Most are two-bedrooms with either one or two baths. The 88-unit Greenhouse II is similarly configured, Thé said.

Each condo complex has its own clubhouse and swimming pool. While the pool is heated during the summer and provides a real draw for families, it's pretty quiet as the weather cools off. The clubhouse, on the other hand, is an active center, with a large "living room" with a fireplace, central heating, bathrooms and a full kitchen, Thé said. It can be rented for a nominal fee for anything from a family party to an evening of bridge.

"I rented it for my family twice in the last year," Mitchell said. "I have great-nephews who like to swim."

Twice a year, at the Christmas holiday time and during the summer, barbecues are held at the clubhouse, drawing a few dozen people, Thé added.

Not much has changed since the complex was built; the homeowners association dues cover upkeep on the extensive grounds, including cleaning the gutters and checking smoke-detector batteries once a year.

An avid bicyclist and birdwatcher, Thé loves that The Greenhouse is so close to Shoreline Park. And they're about equidistant to Castro Street in Mountain View and University Avenue in Palo Alto for restaurant access.

Mitchell added that the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center's gym is just a short walk away, and there's a pedestrian shortcut behind the complex to Piazza's at Charleston Plaza.

Though it isn't a gated community, residents say they feel secure.

"It's so safe," Mitchell said. "Even when it's hot, I can open the windows."

One downside to the location, both agreed, is the traffic along San Antonio Road, what Thé called the "concrete canyon."

But, Mitchell said, "there are a lot of work-arounds."

-- Carol Blitzer


CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (nearby): Children's Pre-School Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, Bldg. T-1

FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road

LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Palo Alto Greenhouse Homeowners Association, Ralph Cahn, treasurer, 650-858-1012; The Compass Management Group Inc., 650-563-9900

PARK (nearby): Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive

POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Fairmeadow Elementary, JLS Middle School, Gunn High School

SHOPPING: The Village at San Antonio, San Antonio Shopping Center, Charleston Plaza

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