News


Mercedes dealership planned for Ming's site

With hotel project in jeopardy, auto dealership makes a pitch for property near Palo Alto Baylands

A glassy, three-story Mercedes dealership would go up next to the Palo Alto Baylands at the Embarcadero Road site of Ming's Restaurant under a proposal that the Architectural Review Board discussed Thursday morning.

The property at 1700 Embarcadero Road has long been considered as a possible site for a new extended-stay hotel, a project that had been approved several times by the City Council but that never came to fruition.

In April 2013, the council agreed to extend the application approval for the final time, an extension that stretched to November 2014. Even so, Ming's closed in December with the expectation that the property would be redeveloped for the hotel and a smaller version of the popular Chinese restaurant.

The construction of the new hotel was beset by delays that were tied to factors including weather and financing, property owner Vicky Ching told the Weekly before the closure. But with the most recent application approval now expired, the hotel project is "dead in the water," city Chief Planning Official Amy French told the architecture board Thursday.

"The entitlement process was completed with the council approval of the project, however because the building has not commenced that is no longer the viable project at the site," French said.

In the meantime, Ching has received an unsolicited offer to build a Mercedes Benz dealership at the site. No formal application has been submitted to the city for this project, but on Thursday the architecture board heard a presentation about the project and generally agreed that the site, which is in close proximity to Audi and Honda dealerships, is suitable for the proposed use.

Deeg Snyder, an architect with the firm Gensler, said the build design would adhere to the Autohaus style used by Mercedes for many of its dealerships, including the Mercedes Benz of Stevens Creek in San Jose. These exteriors have been influenced by Bauhaus design, which generally eschews ornamentation and promotes a tight link between form and function. In this case, the building would be predominantly glass and steel, Snyder said.

Snyder said Mercedes has been actively trying to pursue a project in Palo Alto for "a number of years" but the number of available sites has been limited.

The trend with designing dealerships these days is to go vertical, he said. Unlike the sprawling, low-lying facilities of the past, the one proposed for the 2.5-acre Ming's site would be three stories and have room for 125 spaces on its roof, according to concept plans obtained by the Weekly.

Overall, the site would include 293 parking spaces for cars, including 67 on the first level, 65 on the second and 36 on the third.

The architecture board had mostly positive things to say about the concept proposed by Mercedes. Chair Randy Popp said that of all the areas in the city, this is "the right place to put a project like this."

He called the proposal interesting and noted its "very urban design," though he also acknowledged that it would go into a "not very urban site, being next to the Baylands."

His colleagues generally agreed, with Vice Chair Robert Gooyer saying he "doesn't have a problem" with the proposed location for the new dealership.

Board member Kyu Kim noted that the Audi dealership and showroom is very close to the Ming's site, at 1730 Embarcadero Road. Anderson Honda is also nearby, at 1760 Embarcadero.

"I think it makes sense to have something like this because there are existing auto dealerships down the street," Kim said. "It's a handsome building. I can appreciate that Mercedes is taking this approach of Autohaus and going with the Bauhaus aesthetics."

Despite the initial enthusiasm from the board, the project still faces many hurdles, including formal reviews by the Architectural Review Board, the Planning and Transportation Commission and the City Council. The commercially zoned site would have to be rezoned to allow auto dealerships, a zone change that would also allow for a modest increase in density from the current use.

Comments

16 people like this
Posted by andrew rich
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on May 8, 2015 at 4:13 pm

andrew rich is a registered user.

I'd like to see some improvements at the Embarcadero / East Bayshore intersection if there's going to be another auto dealership there. The 101 NB offramp feeds into that intersection and most cars try to cut across two lanes to make a left, which blocks the straight and right-turn lanes. The intersection could be widened, and perhaps update or re-time the signals.


10 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 4:40 pm

I already miss Ming's (I realize they aren't traditional, but where did the chef who could make those mochi bunnies go? am craving some...)

Too bad about the hotel and no prospect of a return of Mings in some form :-( However, it is true, it's a good place for a dealership, and the revenue to the city is always a good thing. That is a sensitive area for winged wildlife, though -- I hope the design is checked for bird friendliness, but otherwise, hope things go smoothly.


23 people like this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2015 at 4:55 pm

"The architecture board had mostly positive things to say about the concept proposed by Mercedes."

The ARB likes it? Uh-oh. It's gonna be ugly.

"That is a sensitive area for winged wildlife, though -- I hope the design is checked for bird friendliness..."

A 3-story glass building is inherently bird-deadly. But this project has a lot more money behind it than the bird-friendlier arched bridge design did, so it'll go through.


18 people like this
Posted by Slow Drive Home
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 8, 2015 at 6:35 pm

I am in agreement with is Andrew Rich. Going to and from East Palo Alto gets harder to do with each "improvement" to this end of Embarcadero Road. When the school opened by the post office.. everything changed. There was a time when....Palo Alto wanted to keep the bay clear of oil and coolant run off to protect wild life. Guess ideals fly out the window when $$$$$$ are shown.


11 people like this
Posted by Counterclockwise
a resident of University South
on May 8, 2015 at 7:51 pm

Will $ell carbon dioxide emitter$ for the $ale$ taxe$`


15 people like this
Posted by G. Willikers
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 7:55 pm

But, but, but.....we already HAVE a Mercedes dealership!


2 people like this
Posted by Wholly Cow
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 8, 2015 at 8:50 pm

"But, but, but.....we already HAVE a Mercedes dealership!"

This one will be 3 stories tall, for the high-end models.


7 people like this
Posted by Listed for awhile
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 11:45 pm

This property and the hotel entitlements have been listed for awhile at $26,000,000:

Web Link

Wonder what Mercedes is offering now that the entitlements have expired?


7 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 9, 2015 at 12:45 am

@Listed -- good find. Odd that Gennady's article ends with "The commercially zoned site would have to be rezoned to allow auto dealerships..." while your referenced webpage says "zoned service/commercial allowing for a hotel, office complex, church, automobile dealership, Medical Center."

Either someone is misinformed, or "zoning" means different things depending on context.


21 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2015 at 10:01 am

Just what Palo Alto needs....another snobby car dealership. I guess the dealerships go where the money is. Looks like Ming's is no longer in the picture.

I miss the Palo Alto of old.....


15 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 9, 2015 at 11:49 am

There are two large Mercedes sales in the immediate area - next to 101 as you go north - east side of 101, and at Grant Road and El Camino. Check out those buildings to see what Mercedes has already put in place. Since they have completed projects in the area then that tells you what the end result could look like.

I think we would all appreciate it if this land use project is reviewed as it is initially DESIGNED so that the Audubon Society has input at the beginning. You are on the Pacific Flyway / Highway. How the building faces onto the street could be critical relative to where and how birds interact with the building.

Could the city management and PACCC please get involved immediately so that we do not have twenty questions at the end of the process which should have been asked at the beginning of the process.

We have already established that the ARB is fixated on glass buildings. Does that work for the area? Next to a highly busy freeway interchange?
Start the questions now - PACC get involved NOW - and no "Consent Calendar" for commercial land use projects at major road interchanges.


4 people like this
Posted by traffic
a resident of Midtown
on May 11, 2015 at 10:56 am

Come on guys, the traffic at this intersection is not local. It is a potential "short cut" through EPA to the bridge across the bay to avoid the University Ave 101 exit into EPA. Any fixes to improve flow to the bridge will only increase the traffic as it stays in time equilibrium with the 101 exit at University. Building a car dealership here will have less commute time traffic than Mings.

One might speculate that some of the other Mercedes locations will close when a new upscale showroom opens.


14 people like this
Posted by judith
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 11, 2015 at 11:04 am

Dear ARB - Tall, steel and glassy does not meet the Baylands Design Guidelines.


8 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on May 11, 2015 at 11:15 am

To correct information on nearby dealers, the closest MBZ dealers are in Belmont, Fremont, and San Jose.
BMW of Mountain View is at Grant and El Camino. God forbid that has been mistaken for an MBZ dealet.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 11, 2015 at 11:35 am

This all should be interesting given the proximity to the PAO and the number of individuals that like to fly around the area. How about the San Jose flights that are directed over PA, down Embarcadero to the PAO and out over the bay. Yes that has happened - 04/21 and 04/22 - lower than 1900 altitude.

Check out Judith's comment of requirement's for the baylands architecture - tall, steel and glassy does not qualify.

ARB, PACC please do not waste time and money on a building that does not qualify. Planning Department - please enforce the building requirements for the area. No - you all do not get new cars to make this happen because it won't happen.


Posted by Gail
a resident of Crescent Park

on May 11, 2015 at 11:52 am


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16 people like this
Posted by We miss MINGS!
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2015 at 11:52 am

We are so sad that Mings will not be coming back!
Would Mings consider another location?


Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 11, 2015 at 12:45 pm

KP is a registered user.

@Chris...Hahaha, we wouldn't want to confuse ours with THEM!
However, I will miss Mings. I guess it will be Chef Chu's from now on (sometimes PF Changs).


9 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 11, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Disgusting. Another ostentatious display of material wealth.


10 people like this
Posted by Maria
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 11, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Please enough glass. Not green, not safe, not even appealing.


12 people like this
Posted by MingsComeBack!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 11, 2015 at 5:40 pm

More cars and oily garages. Dreadful.

A nice gathering spot with good food and great service lost to the history books. I was looking forward to going back for their fabulous chicken salad at the re-opening. I hope they consider re-opening somewhere else. The Scotts seafood place at Town and Country? The empty space left by the Fresh Market? That's just a block away.


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 11, 2015 at 5:51 pm

I too will miss Ming's for their chicken salad and their dim sum AND their parking lot because it was my go-to-restaurant for friends who were coming back to the area for their medical appointments and who couldn't waste an hour looking for parking downtown or on Cal Ave.


8 people like this
Posted by Silly Marketers
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2015 at 6:04 pm

This is so wasteful. There are more than enough Mercedes dealerships in this area as it is. Competition is good, but someone didn't do their market research. There aren't as many Honda or Ford or Toyota dealerships as there will be Mercedes ones. Insanely stupid.


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 11, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Casualty of the new 14% hotel tax grab?


3 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on May 11, 2015 at 7:49 pm

@musical:

I doubt it.

After all, the hotel operators don't pay the hotel tax. They ***COLLECT*** it from hotel guests, in the same way that local stores don't make any money off the local sales tax. They collect it and remit it to the government. Taxes don't going into the businesses' coffers, they go to the governments' piggy banks.

The 14% hotel tax affects all hotels, whether it be some motel on El Camino Real or the Garden Court Hotel downtown.

From a taxation standpoint, it's going to be 14% regardless of where you put your hotel in Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by Slow Drive Home
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 12, 2015 at 7:33 am

This in response to traffic
a resident of Midtown
"Short Cut"??? Wow thanks for the info!
Check your map again and tell us how many routes we have to get to our homes after work...... while everybody else is using this "short cut"


4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2015 at 7:40 am

Car dealerships generate a lot of sales tax. With FRY's faltering, why not!


1 person likes this
Posted by Slow Drive Home
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 12, 2015 at 7:54 am

There were lots of car dealerships on ElCamino Real in Palo Alto... Why were they closed or shut down? Now they want the tax money back... and not where they have to look at it?


3 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2015 at 8:17 am

The El Camino Real auto dealerships are closed because of changing consumer preferences vis-a-vis accessibility. Over the past couple of decades this has led to most dealerships being located near freeways.

It's not just auto dealerships either. This goes the same for shopping centers, large grocery stores, big box stores, discounters, many movie theater complexes, etc.


3 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 12, 2015 at 9:35 am

Weekly and On-line - look at the way this is staged on the lead-in. It presumes this is a done deal. However - if Judith is correct it does not comply with the guidelines for the baylands area.

Please Weekly and On-line systems - do not stage these questionable developments as done deals in the lead-ins. It implies that you have done your due diligence and already determined there is a "deal "in the works to counter the city guidelines.

No problem with an auto dealer - just the glass house makeup which does not fit the area and is counter to city regulations, as well as any conservation group that is concerned with this being in a major city conservation area and the Pacific flyway. We already went through that with the bridge people who studiously ignored that FACT.

Talking to residents of other adjoining cities PA is unique is its disjointed approach to city governance. Please PACC, City government pull this act together so that we do not have major land use actions which are inconsistent with city governance, We are only 26 square miles with a lot in unbuildable land so please manage what is buildable in a consistent manner.

Note the SJM today - 05/12/15 Editorial "Want more police? Keep land for jobs". It notes in the article that the city council determines land use - residential vs commercial. The question on the table is what builds the tax base up and what pulls the tax base down. Given also that non-profits do not add to the tax base of the city there has to be a balance of what "commercial" businesses are included in the mix.


2 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 12, 2015 at 11:21 am

Annette is a registered user.

Hopefully this will be the death knell of the proposal to reduce Embarcadero east of 101 from 4 lanes to 2 lanes. As is, traffic is a mess @ the East Bayshore/Embarcadero intersection during morning and afternoon commute hours. Construction (especially the huge dirt-hauling trucks), infrastructure work, accidents, and vehicle transport loading/off-loading (all of which happen frequently) all add to the problem. It is not uncommon for that intersection to be completely blocked by someone turning left to get on to East Bayshore - but entering the intersection too late in the light cycle and jamming traffic in all directions. This happens regularly during commute hours. Pathetically, it's likely that the only solution to the problem is a traffic cop standing in the road, directing traffic. If all vehicles were squeezed into 1 lane in each direction the existing problems would only get worse. Even if the City isn't overly concerned about the impact on regular traffic, the negative impact on emergency access should be a major concern - and sufficient reason to not reduce the # of lanes.


4 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 12, 2015 at 1:02 pm

The intersection of Embarcadero and East Bayshore is a total mess. Add to that Stanford is using buildings down Embarcadero for it's Patient Finance Center which is so filled with cards they have valet parking. This needs to remain a four lane road with an improvement to the left had turn lane onto East Bayshore. There is a children' school next to the post office which increases the traffic in this area. Maybe they need to take out some of the unused land in that intersection and provide four lanes on East Bayshore.

The city should not assume people are going to bike across the freeway and take kids to school - or take packages to the post office. There is a limit as to hwat anyone is going to do on a bike during the business day.


4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 12, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Perhaps they need to modify the East Bayshore / Embarcadero intersection. Something like what we see on ECR (south) at the PAMF intersection. Just a thought.


Like this comment
Posted by Kevin Ohlson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2015 at 3:18 pm

There is an MB dealer in PA - Autobahn off Park near Frys. Perhaps this lack of awareness is one reason a more visible and updated site is needed. An existing high-tension tower will still be much higher. It's a good site for it, aligned with the other building (office, Audi, Anderson) in the area. I'm happy they are choosing to stay in Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by Kevin Ohlson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Autobahn? s/b Park Ave Motors!


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 13, 2015 at 6:17 pm

No car sales at Park Ave Mtrs. Just parts and maintenance last I looked.


Like this comment
Posted by Goober of Mayberry
a resident of Barron Park
on May 14, 2015 at 8:04 am

Posted by MingsComeBack!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 11, 2015 at 5:40 pm

"More cars and oily garages. Dreadful."

Ouch! As the manager of a local "oily garage", LOVE the stereotype! Our garage is as neat as a pin, far cleaner than the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant, and, I'd wager, cleaner than this poster's living room. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd better go make sure the "grease-monkeys" aren't stealing change from the customer's ashtrays.... :)


2 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 14, 2015 at 9:05 am

Brian is a registered user.

Thanks Goober.
My first big smile of the day.
And much better than the typical posting on PAOnline.


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

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