Morrissey-Compton relocates to Redwood City | News | Palo Alto Online |


Morrissey-Compton relocates to Redwood City

Palo Alto nonprofit, displaced by development plans, finds expansion opportunities

The Morrissey-Compton Educational Center, a Palo Alto nonprofit assisting children and adults with learning disabilities, relocated to Redwood City on May 27, after receiving notice of eviction due to redevelopment.

In June 2013, Morrissey-Compton was informed that its offices at 2555 Park Blvd. were slated for demolition as part of a California Avenue revitalization project. After 32 years in Palo Alto, the organization moved to 595 Price Ave., Redwood City last week, phone numbers remaining the same. Plans for a new three-story office building at its former location are currently under review.

"The cost of Palo Alto real estate has risen to a degree that would make it challenging for us to afford, (and we) learned that local landlords were not willing to provide special consideration to a nonprofit organization," John Brentar, executive director of Morrissey-Compton, wrote in a statement.

Founded in 1982 by Carolyn Compton and Patricia Morrissey, the organization provides diagnostics, treatment and consultation services for individuals with learning disabilities, developmental disorders, ADHD and mental health conditions.

"We also discovered that many landlords did not want children in their buildings (or) were not interested in long-term leases," Brentar said. He added that many were not willing to build private offices, preferring instead large, open floor plans often desired by tech companies.

The organization reviewed 15 potential locations, including properties in Mountain View and Redwood City.

"Eventually we found the location at 595 Price Ave. and a landlord willing to work with us," Brentar said. "We're sad to be leaving our home ... in Palo Alto, but we are excited about the opportunities."

Morrissey-Compton's new, larger space will allow for both expansion of current services and development of new programs. One new tutoring initiative focuses on executive functioning, the set of "higher order processing skills kids use in school," such as planning and organizing, Brentar explained. "There are lots of kids who never pick (these skills) up."

The new location will also provide the space and funding for more therapists and expansion of group therapy, while a single building will consolidate offices previously distributed between multiple buildings at the Park Boulevard address, he said.

Some clients have voiced concern over the increased travel time from Palo Alto, but at the same time, "several have realized the new office's convenience right off of (U.S Highway) 101. The biggest challenge is the high school students who used to bike (to Morrissey-Compton) from school." However, the new location has allowed for more flexibility, and many specialists have been able to readjust their schedules to meet clients' needs.

"We would be paying three times more (for the lease) if we stayed in Palo Alto," Brentar said. "We now have the freedom to focus on what we do best (and) we can put more money toward scholarships."

Meanwhile, the proposed single-tenant office building at 2555 Park Blvd. underwent a preliminary review on Thursday, according to City of Palo Alto Senior Planner Russ Reich. The proposal by Fergus Garber Young Architects (FGY Architects) will replace the existing two-story 8,675-square-foot structure with a three-story 23,269-square-foot building, including three floors of open office space and a rooftop terrace.

Machine parking, using hydraulic lifts, on the ground and basement levels will accommodate 89 cars total, plus four accessible spaces. The seven lifts by Klaus Multiparking could be operated simultaneously, each with two or three stacked rows of parking stalls, according to the city.

The addition of the proposed project, scheduled for completion in 2015, is not predicted to significantly impact traffic conditions, according to a 2013 traffic study prepared for FGY Architects by Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

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Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 8, 2014 at 12:26 pm

There should be a requirement for new office buildings to provide a percentage of space to non-profits at a BMR level to encourage non-profits to maintain a presence in the city.

Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Another big loss to the Palo Alto Community. They are an awesome resource for kids with learning differences. Guess the landlords will cram in another start-up with no community relevance at the location.

Like this comment
Posted by Bonne Maman
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 8, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Just another one of those things that make Palo Alto less and less of a real community.

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

So disappointed that the community and Stanford did not rise up against this. It has far more long-term impact than the trailer park issue and for many more students.

Like this comment
Posted by PA-getting-monochrome
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

@Maria, "there should be a req for new office ….to provide space to non-profits at a BMR"

What a great idea! In a vein similar to the requirement for new developments to have "art". This would help keep some variety and vitality in our community.

Like this comment
Posted by Doug
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 10, 2014 at 11:38 am

Morrissey-Compton and John Brentar are wonderful. Sadly, it's too late to keep them in Palo Alto, but please consider a donation to them.

Like this comment
Posted by Sad state of affairs
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm

It's a sad state of affairs when organizations that provide critical support to the kids in our community must move out of the city to stay in business. I hope MC stays viable in Redwood City. Just another in a string of businesses that have been here forever that had to leave to make way for VC funded start-ups staffed by 20 year olds who have no idea what resources they'll need when they "grow up" and have their own kids. University Art, another store that served this community for many many years, just moved to Redwood City too. Ironically, most of my shopping I now do in Mountain View at stores like REI, Bed Bath Beyond, Michael's Art Supply, Safeway, Trader Joes, etc. And for entertainment? I go to the gorgeous community theatre, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts on Castro. I really don't know why people are killing themselves to move into Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by Dougall
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

This town is becoming shamelessly shallow. It is certainly an infinitely less enlightened place than it was even five years ago!

A lot of visually and audially challenged people depended on this place, as well as learning-challenged kids. What a waste! A senseless one at that, considering all the people with mega-bucks to spare living in the vicinity

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