Plans for downtown's historic Varsity Theatre took another turn this week when building owner Chop Keenan submitted a proposal to turn the University Avenue landmark into a cafe and co-working space for various high-tech companies.
New plans submitted by Keenan list as the project applicant the high-tech giant SAP, which operates a Palo Alto campus on Hillview Avenue. The plans state that HANAhaus, as the new space will be called, "will combine aspects of a public cafe, a co-working space and a public forum." It will include an assembly space for more than 100 seats and while it will be "open to all," it will "cater specifically to the needs of the entrepreneurial community with a focus on innovation in technology and software applications."
The application brands the new space as a "living laboratory that will explore innovations in the future of work, where dramatic changes in workplace technology, social demographics, cultural trends and globalization are fundamentally changing the meaning, manner and the places in which people work, play, create, connect and relax."
The 1927 building on University and Kipling Street most recently housed Borders Books, which moved in in 1994 and left in 2011 after Borders declared bankruptcy. Last year, Keenan proposed to turn the building into an accelerator for Samsung.
The project still includes a major renovation of the historic building and a modification of the first-floor space for creation of a new cafe, a public gathering space and meeting rooms, new exterior doors and windows, according to the submitted plans. The proposal includes no additions to the existing floor area.