Around California Avenue: Here comes construction


Palo Alto's effort to encourage more development near California Avenue is already bearing fruit. Here are some of the new developments that will soon be opening their doors in the city's "other downtown."

2650 Birch St.

What is it? Known as "Birch Plaza," this three-story building by Harold Hohbach includes eight, two-story housing units on top of ground-floor office space.

Status: The City Council agreed to rezone the property on Birch and Grant streets to "pedestrian and transit-oriented district" in November 2010. The project is now being constructed.

260 California Ave.

What is it? The three-story development will replace Club Illusions, which was one of many tenants that have occupied the building since the 1960s, when hippies and Deadheads came here to party. The new building will retain retail use on the ground floor. It will also include offices on the second and third stories.

Status: Approved in 2012, the building is now under construction.

3159 El Camino Real

What is it? Designed by Fergus Garber Young Architects, this four-story development aspires to be a "true mixed-use project" with 48 small apartments, a restaurant and office space. It would be constructed around Equinox Gym and occupy most of the El Camino block between Portage and Acacia avenues.

Status: The City Council approved the project in November 2013. Construction has yet to begin.

2180 El Camino Real

What is it? Known as the College Terrace Centre, this project includes a new grocery store that will replace the one formerly occupied by JJ&F Market; eight affordable-housing units; 7,000 square feet of retail; and 45,000 square feet of office space.

Status: After securing the City Council's approval in December 2009, the project stalled because of funding difficulties. With finances back on track, construction is set to begin this spring.

2209-2215 El Camino Real

What is it? The proposed three-story development would include financial services on the ground floor, offices on the second floor and residential units on the third. It would replace a one-story building that currently houses R&B Seafood Restaurant and Peninsula Locksmith.

Status: The Architectural Review Board approved the project in January. Construction has not yet started.

2755 El Camino Real

What is it? A "planned community" project, the proposed four-story building would stand on the busy intersection of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road, site of a parking lot formerly owned by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation district. The 33,500-square-foot building would be occupied by First Republic Bank.

Status: After months of hearings, the project was thrown into planning limbo in February, when the City Council agreed to suspend all "planned community" proposals while the city revises its process for planned communities.

411 Page Mill Road

What is it? Designed by local architect John Northway, this planned three-story development would consolidate four lots where there are currently one-story homes. The 35,000-square-foot building would be 40 feet high and include retail on the ground floor, offices on the second floor and 10 apartments on the third floor.

Status: A decision by Palo Alto in January to adopt a new density-bonus law prompted revisions to this application. The project will be reviewed by the Planning and Transportation Commission once the revisions are made.

195 Page Mill Road

What is it? The "Park Plaza" project is a three-story building that will have 82 apartments on the second and third floors and commercial use on the ground floor. The commercial space will be used primarily for research and development but will also include 2,400 square feet of retail, including 1,200 square feet for a "retail food and beverage establishment." The project also includes an underground garage for 274 vehicles and 84 bicycles.

Status: The City Council approved Harold Hohbach's project in June 2012. It is now under construction.

385 Sherman Ave.

What is it? The proposed development a block south of California Avenue would replace an existing single-story office building with a three-story one. The roughly 55,000-square-foot building would also include four residential units and two levels of underground parking.

Status: The developer, MF Sherman, LLC, submitted the application for the project in late December. The Architectural Review Board discussed the project once but did not vote on it. The city has not yet set the next board hearing for this development.

Stanford Mayfield

What is it? Under its 2005 agreement with the city, Stanford University is allowed to construct 180 housing units on California Avenue. The development plan includes demolition of about 290,000 square feet of research-and-development space and construction of 68 single-family homes and 112 multi-family units at 1451-1601 California Ave. In addition, 70 new affordable-housing units are scheduled to be constructed by Stanford at 2500 El Camino Real, just south of California Avenue. That development will also include ground-floor commercial space, which will be occupied by the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Status: Stanford submitted its plans for the new housing on California Avenue in early 2013. The plans are now under review by Palo Alto's planning staff and local commissions. The Architectural Review Board is scheduled to review the plans for 1451-1601 California on March 20.

Gennady Sheyner


2 people like this
Posted by no sky left
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 15, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Don't forget about the awful 2555 Park Blvd development that is attributing to boxing us all in.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2014 at 10:04 am

when hippies and Deadheads came here to party???

That's a weird reduction and distortion about the history of Keystone, Edge and Illusions as a cultural amenity.

Suffice it to say a) the hippies and deadheads were from here, did not merely come here, b) they stopped a war rather than, like the new brand of tech workers, seek to profit from it.

Cali Ave is like a war zone and a reconstruction.

How about a park for Ventura, if Fry's leaves, instead of more dense housing? As precedent i offer Greer Park which when the drive-in movie left, became a major Palo Alto public amenity. (Drive-in>brick-and-mortar::parks)

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

Burger chain Shake Shack to open in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 20 comments | 5,132 views

This time we're not lying. HONEST! No, really!
By Douglas Moran | 11 comments | 925 views

Couples: When Wrong Admit It; When Right; Shut Up
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 812 views

One-on-one time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 594 views