News

Mixed-use proposal for University Avenue meets mixed response

Plan calls for demolition of two one-story buildings, construction of four-story development

A proposal to demolish two stout commercial buildings at the heart of University Avenue's commercial district and replace them with a four-story development is meeting a mixed response from the community, with some downtown residents saying that the new 50-foot building will damage their quality of life, and others arguing that it's exactly what the city needs to bring more vitality to the area.

The proposal by property owners Jamie and Elizabeth Wong calls for replacing two one-story buildings at 429-447 University Ave. with a development that would include retail on the ground floor, office use on the second, three apartments on the third and a mix of residential and commercial uses on the fourth. Designed by prolific architect Ken Hayes, the new building will have a "cubic framework" and a terrace on the fourth floor that will set it back from the bottom three stories.

The city's Architectural Review Board is set to comment on the Environmental Impact Report for the project on Thursday, though the board will not be voting on the development at this time.

City planners wrote in the report that the project is located in the "heart of the Downtown District" and while noting that the building will be "taller than most buildings in the neighborhood," also argue that the building's frontage on University Avenue is "compatible with the urban context." Many neighbors disagree. Some have submitted comments arguing that the proposed building is too tall and that its traffic impacts would be too severe. The proposal comes at a time when the city is struggling to contain downtown's parking problems and preparing to unveil a Residential Parking Permit Program that will restrict workers' ability to park in residential areas.

Linda Anderson, a resident of Bryant Street, called the Hayes proposal "one more assault on the DTN quality of life that already has been seriously eroded by development 'exceptions' causing what may or may not be 'unintended consequences.'" The new building would go up on the corner of University and Kipling Street. The buildings slated for demolition currently includes the store Design Within Reach and the craft-and-jewelry shop Shady Lane, as well as former sites of yogurt store Red Mango and clothing boutique Fashion Passion.

Becky Baer, who lives on Lytton, wrote that over the years, she and her neighbors "have witnessed an alarming transformation of our beloved downtown area."

"The first offense was the hideous Cheesecake Factory building, which in no way reflects the style of the area," Baer wrote. "The current proposal ... is another nail in the coffin. Already there is inadequate parking for the buildings in existence."

The sentiment is far from unanimous. The city has also received comments from several residents, including developers, voicing support for the project. One was local attorney John Hanna, who wrote that the new project "is exactly what we need more of in Downtown Palo Alto."

"We need more residential downtown to make it possible for people to live and work in town (as opposed to commuting), and we need more parking downtown," Hanna wrote. "This project fulfills both of those needs, and ... adds to the tax base and improves the aesthetics of that corner considerably."

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by Julian
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:32 am

"...what the city needs to bring more vitality"

Clearly anyone who says that hasn't tried to park on University.


9 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:32 am

Marie is a registered user.

Does the proposal conform with current zoning? Does it provide enough parking? The only public benefit for additional density should be additional parking available to the public in perpetuity.

I would also like to see the council change the ratio of space to parking from 250 ft per parking space to 150 ft, which is far more rational. Apartments/condos should be required to have two parking spots per unit.


8 people like this
Posted by Maria
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

Why is that building being demolished to begin with?
Given the negative reputation the landlord has for being unreasonable with her rents, I am very skeptical.


11 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

John Hanna, who wrote that the new project "is exactly what we need more of in Downtown Palo Alto."

"We need more residential downtown to make it possible for people to live and work in town (as opposed to commuting), and we need more parking downtown," Hanna wrote. "This project fulfills both of those needs, and ... adds to the tax base and improves the aesthetics of that corner considerably."

3 to 5 apartments and how many office workers?? Also, Mr. Hanna's statement assumes that no tech worker ever changes jobs and they'll sacrifice lucrative stock options just so they can work in downtown PA? Absurd.

Want to buy a bridge?





9 people like this
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:24 am

One word:
RIDICULOUS!


3 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:28 am

My understanding is that this project follows all the zoning rules, including height limit, size and parking. It does not provide parking for the existing square footage which currently has no parking. If the zoning gets changed then projects going forward will have to follow the new zoning. To try to limit this building now, which has been into the city for over a year, would be unfair and illegal and grounds for a lawsuit. I think it looks nice. However, if it could be taller without allowing any more square footage, it could be further set back with lots of seating and landscaping instead of right up to the property line.


10 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:42 am

I thought the city was trying to protect retail? This would shut down 3 non-food establishments, when we really need more of them on University Avenue.


12 people like this
Posted by Ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm

City requirement is 92 parking spaces, including 10 for the 4 housing units. Developer will provide 41 spaces plus in lieu parking fee to city for 37 spaces. That is still 14 short. And how will the parking fee help the parking need caused by this project? Unless the current majority, including lame ducks, ram this thru, surely it won't be approved?


4 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I also do not agree with demolitioning both buildings slated by the owners for the same reasons noted in the article.

I suggest 'renovating the buildings' for more use and not go as high! Although it is more expenssive to renovate than to demolition and rebuild anew there isn't any way a new building would contribute to the historical architectural value which needs to be preserved in Downtown Palo Alto. There are several structures under utilized in downtown PA that should be looked at such as the recently vacated Pizza Kitchen location and the hotel on University near the old Border's location. Why not transform the hotel into residences?

In addition, I'm sure we will see a presentation for one or more new buildings on University at the Cowper corner; the rug place is going out of business and several other businesses have already left.

It would be BEST if all the owners and developers would present their plans at once so the whole Palo Alto Community can see what the plans are for Downtown Palo Alto. They might have a better chance of getting the community behind a renovation of the whole city!


21 people like this
Posted by Doesn’t pass smell test
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Another Ken Hayes oversized underparked office building.
We need a Grand Jury investigation of the Planning Dept. It's obvious this architect-developer has a special relationship there or he wouldn't get continued support for his oversized and underparked projects.


5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm

PS - I think all of Palo Alto should have METER PARKING. There are over 35,000 to 50,000 people who commute, shop, visit, etc. Palo Alto daily. There isn't anyway that Fee Parking can capitalize on helping Palo Alto's parking problems.


6 people like this
Posted by South Palo Alto
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Palo Alto Online needs an editorial section. Every "news" article Gennady Sheyner writes contains emotionally laden words more appropriate to an editorial page. It is not news.


16 people like this
Posted by history buff
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

A while back, he City allowed a developer to build an office building on Lytton with residential units proposed for the top floor. Within months of completion, the developer received permission to convert the residential space to office as he couldn't find renters for the residential spaces. What's to prevent a similar situation with the 429-429 project? t


18 people like this
Posted by Joan
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 17, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Another Hayes project???? I find it difficult to comprehend, with all the good architects in Palo Alto, that this firm seems to get all the commissions---and then builds the same thing again and again----a big concrete block. Why does everything they do get passed. As someone else said, what is their connection with the planning group? Maybe this should get investigated before anything else goes up.


9 people like this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm

> "We need more residential downtown to make it possible for people to live
> and work in town (as opposed to commuting), and we need more parking downtown,"
> Hanna wrote. "This project fulfills both of those needs, and ... adds to the
> tax base and improves the aesthetics of that corner considerably."

Isn't J. P. Hanna a lawyer? So, what's his involvement in this project? Is he counsel for one/more of the developers? Does he have a financial link to this project?

Hanna's claim that this project makes it possible for more people to live and work downtown is really curious. Everyone knows that small companies often start in Palo Alto, but either fail, or move to less expensive, and more spacious, quarters after a year or two of operations. Once that happens, the people who originally were working downtown either have to quit their current company and find a new position,or they have to commute. Everyone knows that--so why shouldn't J.P. Hanna know that too?

Got to wonder what University Avenue would look like if every building were demolished, and new 75-100 foot buildings replaced the older, established, street scape? By Hanna's logic--this would make the downtown even more "vibrant" and add even more to the tax base. Of course, there are costs associated with growth. Bet Mr. Hanna would claim that those costs should not be considered when looking at building big, shiny, new, ugly, buildings in downtown Palo Alto.


7 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Only about 10% of people work in the city in which they live, and most nowdays change jobs every three or four years. The argument for more residential units in Palo Alto so more people who work here can live here sounds wonderful. But that is not what statistics say happens.


11 people like this
Posted by Under represented.....(on these forums that is).
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I love this idea. While we may be few in number on these totally ridiculous online forums, I know many of my neighbors support me when I say that we need to build up (to our height limit) in downtown and when the project incorporates housing that's the best! Hooray! Obviously this is within the 50 foot height limit so the anti-change majority on this forum will have to find other reasons to hate it (its ugly, its too many offices, its insufficiently parked) etc etc. These may be valid reasons for some to object, but I see them as opportunities for discussion. Let's figure out how this project can address these concerns while still achieving its goals.

For all of you who [portion removed]a these forums and feel like you're making a difference, consider the following... if you dislike a more urban urban center, move to Barron Park? You can afford to since living closer to the urban center is more desirable to young people and they will pay you more per square foot than it will cost you to live in Barron Park where "residentialists" are proud of the fact that there are no sidewalks to walk on. AND if you live in Barron Park, why does it bother you so much if our urban center becomes more urban? PLEASE for the love of logic, accept the premise that there are many of us who like this transition to a more urban downtown and stop insisting you pessimistic view of the consequences is an absolute truth. It's egotistical and tiresome. Oh and one more thing, before you parade about telling us all how long you've lived here, keep in mind that just because you've been here 10 or 20 years does not make you're opinion more noteworthy than those of us who moved here 1 or 2 years ago. Certainly, those of us who have moved here in the last few years are paying 10 to 20 times what you are in property taxes to do so and it is so incredibly insulting to our community's social intelligence when you begin to assert that the new-comers are ruining your town. [Portion removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Polly Wanacracker
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Q: How do you tell one Hayes building from another?

A: Read their addresses.


1 person likes this
Posted by gale johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm

So many good spot on comments...too many to thank and give responses to now. I have a bunch of my own but I'm worn out from reading all the others today. Most of them spoke for me...but not all. I always like to keep my audience in suspense. I'm really retro retro. Moved here in '61 of the last century. I went through all those previous wrestling matches between the new 'residentialists' and the old 'establishment'. Deja vu...all over again. That's one of my favorite Yogiisms. So here we are in the modern era....more enlightened, smarter, but still struggling with the same old problems us Palo Altans faced so long ago.


7 people like this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm

> Certainly, those of us who have moved here in the last few
> years are paying 10 to 20 times what you are in property taxes
> to do so and it is so incredibly insulting to our community's
> social intelligence when you begin to assert that the new-comers
> are ruining your town.

[Portion removed.]

Let’s address a basic issue—Prop.13 property tax differentials. Yes, new folks are paying at least 10X times most of the folks who have lived here for a while. But that was a personal choice. When you moved here, didn’t your real estate agent provide you with enough information so that you could actually compute your yearly property tax bill? So—did you, or did you not, move here with the full knowledge of what your property tax bill was going to be?

As to your neighbors taxes—this information was always in the public domain. Did you take a trip to the County tax people and figure out how much your neighbors were paying?

As to where the money is going—it’s going to the School District, and other government agencies. The City only gets about 9% of every property tax dollar (before the add-ons). As to who built Palo Alto—well it was built (and built out) by the people who paid the taxes from the day the City was incorporated—before 1900. Those people paid the taxes to build all of the public buildings, and buy the various bit and pieces of land that ultimately comprises the public holdings. For the most part, up until a couple years ago, there wasn’t much in the way of general obligation bonds against the City’s finances. What bonds were outstanding more-or-less were associated with revenue streams—such as the Utility.

The school district will have managed to have spent about 500 million (or 1 billion with financing) dollars for new buildings—and yes, you new folks are carrying a large burden here. But the buildings are for your kids, not those that have lived here for a long time. Those long-time residents were prudent, and build inexpensive, functional, buildings—not the air-conditioned castles that you newer folks seem to demand.

[Portion removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by STOP
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm

EVERYWHERE I GO THERE IS CONSTRUCTION! It's annoying and has damaged my quality of life here in Palo Alto. The streets are bumpy and torn up the infrastructure is crumbling. Hasn't anyone else noticed. It takes forever to drive anywhere now. I don't want to bike with my kids anymore because the roads are so worn how and bumpy. Oh the absurdity.


4 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Why is there a one paragraph comment from a Jack Hanna if he is not directly connected with this project? It is like stacking the deck with opinions from people that have no direct business relationship to the formation of this project. His opinions have no bearing on the architectural validity of this project, described as "cubic framework" - how totally unattractive as is the building on Alma.

We do have to consider that most older buildings on University have reached an age in which the specifications, wood rot, have been overcome by events and they do need to be replaced with newer buildings that meet current specifications and are using new building materials. In an earthquake we should have the most current recommendations as to building specs. The question then is STYLE - someone needs to make sure that we are not replacing one style with another that is unattractive. If people are complaining about the Cheesecake Factory then that is telling you that we really need a cohesive style for the city - but cubic is not it. Cubic translates to cheapest building - we do not want cheapest.
We need STYLE. And if the planning department exercises no creativity then we need to get rid of them - time to clean house.


6 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Nov 17, 2014 at 4:21 pm

If you bought 10 years ago your property taxes are about half of the people who buy today - not 10X or 20X.


6 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Ken Hayes is a prolific architect in Palo Alto because he knows how to get projects thru the "Palo Alto Process" and he designs building that can be built at less expense. Simple.


15 people like this
Posted by Suspicious
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 7:07 pm

An investigation of the Planning Dept. and Transportation Dept. is needed.
The Chief Transportation officer, Jaime Rodriguez, a full time City of PA employee, owns a company called Traffic Patterns, that designs street markings. He also allegedly owns a company called American Asphalt. He is also involved with a company, Cell Signs, that design street signs. His web site is www.trafficpatterns.net Talk about a conflict of interest! When does he have time for his transportation job at City Hall? He answers the telephone for his company, Traffic Patterns, during City of PA business hours. Too bad he doesn't answer his Transportation Dept. phone.


12 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm

With all the hideous new buildings proposed for University Avenue, the town is quickly losing all its charm. We might as well be visiting downtown Milpitas. Downtown PA is becoming very ordinary, with unattractive, cheaply constructed buildings, restaurants that come and go, bumpy roads and major traffic problems. Quality of life has been lost in this town.


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Suspicious, very interesting about Mr. Rodriquez's personal companies, esp. the ones for signs. Several of us were laughing just today about all the weird signs sprouting all over town like the ones at Santa Rita and Middlefield directing you to a railroad station.

Anyone know of a station near there? I pity the poor out-of-towners lost in the maze of the residential streets.

Perhaps our new City Council will investigate?


10 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:56 pm

There is something very rotten in this town and it has been going on for far too long. First readers need to know that while the maximum, and often ignored, height limit for any building in Palo Alto is supposed to be 50 feet that doesn't mean that buildings are entitled to be 50 feet high. We have what is known as a zoning code and it lists what size buildings can be according the the floor area ratio (FAR) . While it is rarely followed, our zoning codes limit the maximum size of most building well below the 50 foot limit. Downtown buildings should have a FAR of 1. This means that if the lot size is 10,000 square feet, the building that is built on that lot is allowed to be 10,000 square feet. Anyone who has been watching for the last decade may ask how all these 30,000 and 40,000 sq ft buildings are getting built around town then? (In fact the FAR of most new downtown building is 3). Well the growth crazy city council, planning commission, city planning staff and county and state "growthers" have passed a slew of add on bonus densities, traded density upgrades and exemptions for various amenities that can more than double the legally allowed size of the building. The savvy developers and their city council/planning friends stack up bonuses and apply them to downtown building. Or, in the olden days before measure M and the residentialist outcry, they just requested a planned community zoning and built the biggest possible building they could. This current building is another where the exemptions have been packed on hot and heavy. It is time to return to the intent of our zoning laws and try to save what little there is left of the Palo Alto downtown. Write city council and demand that this building be denied. They only seem to respond when people show up at city hall and complain. Otherwise they say anything to get reelected and then vote the opposite way. And for the record don't trust that the group Palo Alto Forward is looking out for the well being of Palo Alto. Their real name should be "Palo Alto Upward" because that is the direction that they want the city to go.


5 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Greg Scharff was a "residentialist" for about one minute, just to get re elected. We call him "the minuteman."


8 people like this
Posted by Suspicious
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Regarding Mr. Rodriguez, Chief Transportation Officer, City of PA, and all his side businesses:
1. Someone needs to investigate whether or not Mr. Rodriguez gives his companies (Traffic Patterns, Sign Cells and American Asphalt), City of PA contracts for new street signs, and the ugly street markings that are popping up all over town. He values his Traffic Patterns Company to be worth up to $1 Million dollars.
A local newspaper needs to do an investigative report into Rodriguez's potential conflicts of interest, etc.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 18, 2014 at 12:44 am

Check out this new website if you want to try to keep up with all the proposals -- Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2014 at 1:18 am

Marie is a registered user.

Is the city required to accept fees in lieu of parking? Can the city council absolutely require the parking that PA zoning indicates is required? Given the current parking space deficit, there should be no way to evade the inadequate requirements that exist!! Increased density should require the appropriate number of parking spaces, no exceptions.


6 people like this
Posted by K
a resident of University South
on Nov 18, 2014 at 3:30 am

"We need more residential downtown to make it possible for people to live and work in town (as opposed to commuting)." So yeah, all of us hard working and good folks who are waitresses, bartenders, cashiers, retail staff, office staff, service staff, nurses, home health aids, good maintenance people, teachers, librarians, to name only a few of those who actually give value to a community btw. Right, we are all going to be able to live in a nice brand new apartment in downtown Palo Alto on University Avenue. Right. Got it.


3 people like this
Posted by 30 Years in PA
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2014 at 8:46 am

Let's all take a deep breath.

The proposed development is totally within the character of downtown Palo Alto and thoughtfully deals with the problems associated with prior developments. Let's take this one step at a time.

1. Street Level Scale - At street level the building is consistent with the human scale necessary for a successful urban building. It does not overwhelm pedestrians and fits within the streetscape. The building steps back from University, and does not spill into the street (unlike other really stupid recent developments on Alma). The building clearly and comfortably relates to University avenue.

2. Parking- The building includes two levels of below grade parking. The existing buildings have no tenant parking, thus resulting in the building tenants using on-street neighborhood parking. This has been a big complaint of prior developments and this one responsibly addresses this problem. In fact, this building will improve the downtown parking situation.

3. Office Near Transit - The office tenants will have access to CalTrain. via a short walk down University. This is a goal of all urban planners.

4. Housing - The proposed building will have 4 rental apartments. Nearly all planning studies of Downtown indicate that more housing is necessary to accommodate the huge demand created by employers located in Palo Alto. Placing housing close to jobs is a foundation for any urban planning exercise.

5. Safety - lastly, the existing single story masonry buildings are obsolete from a seismic safety standpoint. Even if retrofitted to current standards, the buildings are obsolete from a space use perspective.

You may have an issue with the architecture. I'll be the first to note that it ho-hum to the point that it should be sent back to Ken Hayes for rework. The skin looks cheap and out of character with the block. Not saying that PA needs another Spanish revival temple (why?), its just that a prominent building needs to have more than industrial park cladding. The current exterior says "I'M CHEAP". University Avenue deserves better.

So, the proposed development hits all the appropriate community programmatic notes for the site...it just needs a richer facade.


6 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

Suspicious, please please write to the City Council (current and newly elected), the City Manager Mr. Keene and all the journalists you can think of demanding an investigation of Mr. Rodriguez's outside activities, his unwillingness to answer his office phone and/or respond to emails from constituents and reporters.

I'm still fuming that after almost 10 years of the nonsense over changing / synchronizing the Embarcadero lights, he labored mightily and recycled 130+ pages of boilerplate for an RFP without a clear description of what's planned. (See the related topic here on Town Square)

With traffic problems such a major concern, we all deserve answers.


1 person likes this
Posted by 20 years in Palo Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2014 at 11:19 am

30 years,

I guess in all your 30 years, you very rarely have looked up beyond street level.


6 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2014 at 11:40 am

If the city requirement is 92 parking spaces it shouldn't be approved unless it has 92 parking spaces. The city can't build anything within the propsed project budget. Require the developer to build the required parking. The developer is adding more traffic to overloaded roads. He shouldn't be given gifts.


3 people like this
Posted by 30-Plus-Years-In-Palo-Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2014 at 3:36 pm

> The proposed development is totally within the character of downtown
> Palo Alto and thoughtfully deals with the problems associated with prior developments.

@30-Years-In-Palo-Alto failed to mention that all of the points he/she offered in defense of this building were more in the realm of opinion than actual fact. Opinion is fine--but please don't believe that people who have lived in Palo Alto as long as you, or even longer, are going to fail to notice your failure to treat those of us disagreeing with you with a little courtesy by making it clear that your posting is an opinion, and not fact!


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2014 at 5:55 pm

##
"We need more residential downtown to make it possible for people to live and work in town (as opposed to commuting), and we need more parking downtown," Hanna wrote.
##


The building has 20,000 square feet of commercial space. At the city's standard of 250 square feet per employee, that would be 80 jobs. At a more realistic 125 square feet per employee, that's 160 jobs.

If 80-160 people can live in those 4 apartments, then yes this building will make it possible for more people to live and work downtown, and cut down on commuting.

If 80-160 people can NOT fit into the 4 apartments, then this building will make it HARDER to live and work in downtown Palo Alto (by increasing the jobs/housing ratio) and bring MORE commuters into town, not fewer.

But I'm not an attorney, maybe there's different math there.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 19, 2014 at 11:37 am

In order to sell an idea or project you need to use the currently used, socially acceptable buzz words to describe what you are doing. In the case of buildings we all know what those buzz words are - to increase density, to increase housing, and reduce transportation costs, blah, blah, blah.
Buzz words have nothing to do with the actual project when finished. People need to look beyond the selling points to see what the actual effect will be on transportation and housing costs.

Mr. Hanna is the buzz word captain - but do not know who he is.

Get beyond the buzz words to evaluate what is going on here - yes a new building is appropriate but duplicating a low cost design throughout the city does not do it for me. I would expect to see a really gorgeous building that has the adequate parking for the people who are tenants in the building.


2 people like this
Posted by DTN resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I am so sorry to see the loss of a wonderful retail store, Shady Land, one that provides at least 11 parking spaces for the employees and offers lovely gifts for shoppers! It is truly a landmark on University and one I will certainly miss.


Like this comment
Posted by DTN
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2014 at 12:37 pm

PS correction of typo on previous notice. Shady Lane not Land.


1 person likes this
Posted by 35 year resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

The two buildings do provide parking in the back for the 5 storefront tenants. It looks to be about 12 spaces that can be used by the employees or customers of each establishment. Many buildings on University Ave. do not provide parking as these two buildings do.


1 person likes this
Posted by 35 year resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

The two buildings do provide parking in the back for the 5 storefront tenants. It looks to be about 12 spaces that can be used by the employees or customers of each establishment. Many buildings on University Ave. do not provide parking as these two buildings do.


3 people like this
Posted by Now we understand
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 25, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Now we understand why the traffic light at Town&Country hasn't been synchronized. The staff turned this simple job into a $2 million project to "fix" all traffic signals. And yes the Council just approved the 2 million$ for a company called Trafficware.
Above, Suspicious wrote:
Regarding Mr. Rodriguez, Chief Transportation Officer, City of PA, and all his side businesses:
1. Someone needs to investigate whether or not Mr. Rodriguez gives his companies (Traffic Patterns, Sign Cells and American Asphalt), City of PA contracts for new street signs, and the ugly street markings that are popping up all over town. He values his Traffic Patterns Company to be worth up to $1 Million dollars.


Like this comment
Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 25, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Bru is a registered user.

>> Clearly anyone who says that hasn't tried to park on University.

Clearly anyone who insists on trying to park on University, driving around and around instead of just finding a space in a parking garage is part of the problem and should not be complaining.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 25, 2014 at 6:36 pm

@ Bru: 2x.


5 people like this
Posted by Que Pasa?
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Nov 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm

So why is a mixed use building being allowed in an area STRICTLY zoned for retail???? This is a violation of a law, and zoning changes must go to voters, not developers or council members with financial interests in said developments.

So much for the council "protecting retail on University".

This town is run by selfish amoral greedy people. When we moved here several years go, we were told that the city council did not allow these kinds of things to happen in Palo Alto. Obviously that was a load of baloney.


4 people like this
Posted by Que Pasa?
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Nov 26, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Does anyone REALLY believe that those apartments, in the location they are in, will actually be affordable for the folks who work downtown, on the crummy wages they earn?

Consider that old real estate adage, Location, location, location!" What that translates to in realtor-speak is "Unaffordable, unaffordable,,unaffordable!"

What is considered " below market" or "affordable housing" in the Bay Area is almost always unaffordable by the huge majority of commuters.

When developers or council members speak, stop listening.


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