New tenants sought for Cubberley Community Center

Palo Alto looks to fill classrooms vacated by Foothill College

With its long-term future still in flux, Cubberley Community Center is preparing to welcome new tenants onto its sprawling campus to fill the space left behind by the departure of its largest tenant, Foothill College.

Palo Alto officials began to solicit bids earlier this week for about 39,000 square feet of space, which includes classrooms at various wings of the center at 4000 Middlefield Road. According to the details of the bid, which was posted on Tuesday, the space can be used "for office space, education, child care or services organization of nonprofit or for-profit community organization or individual(s) that would be offering community-based services to enhance the quality of life in the City of Palo Alto."

The city's invitation for bids comes at a time of transition for the 35-acre community center. Once the site of Cubberlely High School, which shuttered in 1979 because of falling enrollment, the center now hosts an eclectic mix of uses, includes playing fields, a theater, offices and art studios. Its largest tenant, Foothill College, announced in 2011 that it plans to leave the somewhat dilapidated Middlefield Road campus and open a new campus in Sunnyvale.

At the same time, the city and the Palo Alto Unified School District are moving ahead with a broader master plan for the entire campus, which is jointly owned by the two agencies. The city owns 8 acres of Cubberley, while the school district owns the remaining 27 acres, which it leases to the city. The two bodies agreed to renew the lease agreement for five years in November 2014, with the understanding that they will move ahead with a joint plan for how the facilities would be used.

The deadline for the bids to be submitted is Aug. 9 and the city plans to hold an open house to show the space on July 27, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.


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9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 9:56 am

This worries me. Won't Cubberley be needed for PAUSD soon?

9 people like this
Posted by sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2016 at 10:20 am

sheri is a registered user.

The City owns 8 acres of Cubberley that it received in a land swap for the Terman site. PAUSD owns the rest, but has been unable to say how or when it will use its 27 acres. The site badly needs a new community center and the plans call for shared usage of some types of buildings, such as the theater, gyms, etc. Both parties need to allocate funds to get the planning process going.

5 people like this
Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 22, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Be Positive is a registered user.

@sheri - with the opening of the Mitchell Park community center (3 minutes down Middlefield) and the new Paly Theater, I don't think Cubberly needs to be the site of either. Gym space would be great! PAUSD enrollment is predicted to start decreasing so I'm not sure PAUSD will use it any time soon.

13 people like this
Posted by Baloney
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Baloney is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

13 people like this
Posted by Dispel fear. Embrace Change.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 22, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Dispel fear. Embrace Change. is a registered user.

I hope that valued non-profits will find new homes at Cubberley which has enormous potential to be a great community center for the arts.

There is so much there already...orchestras, jazz groups, jewelers, painters, choirs, dancers, sculptors. These talented people cross-pollinate ideas. It's a great community. This may be an OPPORTUNITY for Palo Alto to create a stronger hub of local creative arts activity.

Dispel fear. Work toward solutions. Embrace change as an opportunity.

17 people like this
Posted by Big idea
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Mitchell Park is a library but could only euphemistically be called a community center. The teen center is barely open. There is no performance space like the auditorium at Cubberly, and certainly very little community space for the many functions of Cubberley.

"somewhat dilapidated" is also a euphemism. It's time to create a real asset for our town instead of just paying through the nose and having little to show for it. Raze it!

Why not think big? A nonprofit incubator. Community pool. Real auditorium. (The current only seats 300.) Major educational space.

Oh, that's right. PAUSD has the biggest say. Big ideas don't come from small-minded petty creative-as-chalk, untrustworthy bureaucrats. Which is why Sunnyvale has a new Foothill facility and we have nothing now.

7 people like this
Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 22, 2016 at 3:57 pm

How about housing for teachers? Santa Clara and San Mateo CCD have done this and it seems to work well. We could used 5 acres and build 50 units.

The challenge with re-purposing or re-building the whole site is that the District doesn't know if and when it will need to build there. They do not today, and probably won't for 10 or more years. But what if then they need it? If we don't hold it "in inventory" then we foreclose the one site for major school expansion.

We could build something that could be re-purposed as classrooms later - but seems very hard. The school building codes make construction extremely expensive, and hard to create a community space that could transform to a school. Any ideas?

16 people like this
Posted by Influx
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 8:22 pm

With the continuing stream of refugees and wealthy immigrants coming into the US, it's a mistake to think the PAUSD enrollment so will decrease for long, if at all. Many of these newcomers have three or more children per family.

13 people like this
Posted by Big Idea
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2016 at 9:18 am

@Parent of 2,
Haven't you been reading the news? The vast majority of Palo Alto teachers make more than $100,000 a year, which puts them well above the median single person and household income for 2. Plus they are "frequently absent" with pay compared to other districts even in poor areas. Plus they get the whole summer off. PAUSD teachers are, in other words, doing on average a lot better than the people paying their salaries.

Presuming that teachers would want to live in little rentals chosen by the district, or be concentrated together is also probably fatally flawed, especially given their generous salaries.

1 person likes this
Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 23, 2016 at 6:42 pm

@Big Idea, I guess that data could be read two ways. One is that most teachers here make a decent amount of money. The other is that those at the lower end of the payscale largely can't afford to live here, so we can't hire any. That's something we may want to address, esp. with a growing California teacher shortage and escalating local cost of living.

BTW, housing units in San Mateo CCD seem lovely, essentially nice market-rate townhouse style condos. Here's what I saw on their website: Web Link

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