News

Zuckerberg plans to raze, replace his Crescent Park homes

Facebook CEO looks to develop four new homes, two large basements

Facebook's billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg is preparing for a major update to his digs in the Crescent Park neighborhood, where he plans to raze four homes and build four new ones, equipped with large basements and small crawl spaces.

The Palo Alto resident last week submitted an application to the city's Planning Department to demolish homes at 1451, 1457 and 1459 Hamilton and at 1462 Edgewood Drive. The project description states that the proposed homes "represent approximately half the allowable square footage for the four properties and a 20 percent reduction in square footage relative to the existing homes that will be replaced."

Currently, the four adjacent properties have on them two single-story homes and two two-story homes. Under the new plan, they will be replaced with three single-story homes and one two-story home. The project description from Walker Warner Architects states that the single-family homes will be "smaller, updated versions."

The project description states that three of the homes will use "a simple palette of painted wood shingle siding, natural cedar shake roofing, painted windows and french doors, and stained wood doors where they are solid." Renderings of these homes show low-lying, one-story structures with pitched roofs and heavily landscaped yards.

The fourth home, at 1457 Hamilton, is somewhat different from the other three. It includes white-brick walls, dark steel doors and a metal roof. The project description states that this home "incorporates a more unique character and material palette, in keeping with the variety of architectural styles evident in the surrounding neighborhood."

That, at least, is what would be visible from the street level and what is reflected in the publicly released drawings. The real expansion, a closer look at the plans suggests, will happen underground. Two of the homes would feature basements running roughly along the entire length of the house. In one of the Hamilton homes, the basement will have a floor area of more than 2,400 square feet, which will include a media room, a storage area and elevator access, according to the floor plans reviewed by the Weekly.

Another house would feature a basement with more than 3,000 square feet of space, with two storage areas and a recreation room occupying much of the space.

The basements plans weren't included in the portion of the application that is posted on the city's website (the city doesn't count basement square footage in its floor-area requirements). And despite increasing community concerns about basement construction -- most notably, the extensive groundwater pumping that often accompanies the practice -- the basements aren't mentioned in the letter that Zuckerberg's neighbors received last week, informing them of the new project.

"The plans will reduce overall square footage relative to the existing homes and aim to ensure the new structures and surrounding gardens blend seamlessly with the neighborhood," states the letter from Kimberly Darlington and Alistair Shearer of the property- and construction-management company Darlington & Associates. "While we are still in the planning phase, we wanted to let you know about the project in the early stages and assure you that we will be taking affirmative steps to minimize the duration of construction and related inconvenience in the neighborhood."

The project description on the application notes that the four homes will be "built concurrently to minimize the duration of construction and enable staging that best protects the existing trees on site."

It remains to be seen how neighbors will respond to Zuckerberg's plans. He and wife Priscilla Chan moved into Crescent Park in March 2011, when he also bought the Edgewood home. In October 2013, he bought the three Hamilton properties, reportedly after learning about a developer's plan to purchase the home at 1457 Hamilton and to build a large home on the site.

Zuckerberg ultimately bought the developer's contract with the property owner for a reported $1.7 million, along with $129,000 in deposits that the developer had put down on the property. The purchase later led to litigation, with the developer, Mircea Voskerician, claiming that Zuckerberg had reneged on his verbal agreement to give Voskerician business referrals (the two reached a settlement earlier this year).

So far, the planned compound has sparked curiosity but no opposition from the surrounding community. The Crescent Park Residents Association has not taken a position on the project, said Norm Beamer, the association's president. Beamer said that as long as the homes are to be used as single-family homes for long-term residents, he has no concerns.

Some residents, however, are wondering whether the new homes will be used for short-term use by Facebook employees or VIPs, he said.

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Comments

15 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 26, 2016 at 6:19 pm

I'm sorry, but isn't this area a flood zone?


8 people like this
Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 26, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Re: "I'm sorry, but isn't this area a flood zone?"
Ironically, no. The Chaucer Ave. bridge diverts the water upstream of this area, and "protects" it, at the expense of us less luckey folks in the diverted path of the flood.


8 people like this
Posted by water
a resident of Green Acres
on May 26, 2016 at 10:26 pm

Just wondering: would water needed to be pumped to build all these basements the way it is in Old Palo Alto? If not, this sounds like a reasonable set of proposals.


46 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on May 26, 2016 at 11:01 pm

Really, why is this news? I'm really appalled that a news story would also give out the addresses. Yes, you could probably find out, but not this easily. Can we please not tabloid our neighbors unnecessarily?


Like this comment
Posted by Priscilla Jamison
a resident of College Terrace
on May 27, 2016 at 7:21 am

[Post removed.]


46 people like this
Posted by kathy
a resident of Mountain View
on May 27, 2016 at 10:24 am

Nice to have money isn't it?

It would be a wonderful gesture if he rented these homes for $2000 per month to new school teachers with household income less an 100K. He can certainly afford it.


7 people like this
Posted by MP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 27, 2016 at 10:43 am

I think he is moving his wife's family in, to be closer to the kids, the concept of living as extended family is great.

But, hasn't it been reported that he bought next door properties from neighbors on the condition to allowing them to stay in their homes?


23 people like this
Posted by Marielena
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2016 at 11:12 am

WHO CARES
really folks, I am with Neighbor, who is appalled that the addresses are being given out etc.

With all the talent and gray matter in this town, it never ceases to amaze me the things people put their energy into! Including me for posting this. Have a great weekend everyone and remember to honor our Veterans.


22 people like this
Posted by Time to stir the pot
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 27, 2016 at 11:27 am

Another "news" story published in our local gossip journal. They are probably hoping this will stir up controversy and generate more users to the website, with the hope being that people will actually pay to see these articles even though you can see them for free by picking up the weekly at any corner.


4 people like this
Posted by Father of 3
a resident of Midtown
on May 27, 2016 at 12:15 pm

I heard that the other houses are for his servants (I mean groundskeepers, maids, cooks, nanny etc.) Actually, that might not be such a bad gig if you get to live in that neighborhood as part of your pay. Unless he was putting up bunk beds...


24 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on May 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

This isn't news fit to print. You violate privacy of a local, tax-paying resident but you won't print names of juvenile lawbreakers, or pictures of those arrested for felonies, claiming privacy protection.

Reporting something "just because you can" which serves no purpose except feeding gossip is a tabloid-worthy cheap shot.

I'd like to see you report names of restaurants cited for health code violations. That would actually protect the community.


26 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 27, 2016 at 1:54 pm

"It would be a wonderful gesture if he rented these homes for $2000 per month to new school teachers with household income less an 100K. He can certainly afford it."

It's always easier to spend someone else's money, isn't it?


21 people like this
Posted by Samia
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 27, 2016 at 4:48 pm

The size and looks of these houses sound great. I hope Mr. Zuckerberg starts a trend of downsizing on the Peninsula. Great example for others.


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 27, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I don't fuss or worry about it. Billionaires will always get their way in this rich town. Good for him for being one of those. What I worry about most is what all the other issues CC is struggling with, and only once in a while making good, but tough decisions on those issues. I'm willing to give them a chance and then we all get to voice our opinions on how well they did in the next election.


13 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on May 27, 2016 at 6:20 pm

"Really, why is this news? I'm really appalled that a news story would also give out the addresses. Yes, you could probably find out, but not this easily. Can we please not tabloid our neighbors unnecessarily?"

Sensationalism equals more page views equals increased ad revenues. It is all about the money. Or maybe there is a hidden agenda? Why would the addresses be published by a newspaper? That seems unnecessary to me.


11 people like this
Posted by Really?!
a resident of College Terrace
on May 27, 2016 at 10:05 pm

The jack billionaire wants to build a fortress to insulate himself from the unwashed masses of ordinary millionaires in that neighborhood. It's historical. Talk about white people problems. By far the best part of the week!


23 people like this
Posted by Trump
a resident of Professorville
on May 27, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Mark and I are, like, great friends, he's a good guy, he knows the score, I told him, just build a wall where those houses were, you can keep out the, you know, whatever... Its fine.


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

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