News

College Terrace Centre set to open soon in Palo Alto

New development living roof, market, other amenities

High above El Camino Real, a garden of flowers, grasses and sedges blooms atop the newly constructed College Terrace Centre, which features a living roof and other environmentally friendly amenities.

On a recent afternoon, stacks of pavers awaited placement on an elevated rooftop floor, and construction workers put the finishing touches on the exterior of an elevator. The view, facing the Santa Cruz Mountains on the opposite side of the three-story building, was stunning.

This rooftop garden, with nine species of plants in a state-of-the-art gardening system, uses recycled water cached from rainwater in a 50,000-gallon underground cistern. It is transported through a piping system up to the living roof and can also be used to flush toilets.

The 4,100-square foot garden, which includes Achillea flowers, will host butterflies and other nectar-loving insects. Its reflective pavers will keep the building 25 degrees cooler, Tony Mirenda, project executive for Blach Construction, said.

The garden and other environmental features are designed to make the building cooler and brighter and more energy efficient through an array of amenities that include a rooftop solar farm, an ambient-air-cooling system and a basement-level bamboo courtyard that will grow 20 to 30 feet high to reduce the heat-island effect surrounding the building,

The new 57,900-square-foot mixed-use, transit-oriented development at 2180 El Camino Real includes 38,980 square feet of offices, 8,000 square feet for grocery, 5,580 square feet for retail, eight affordable housing units 216 office parking spaces with an additional 11 for residential parking. It is scheduled to open at the end of 2016 or early 2017, Charles Peters, vice president of development for property owner Greystone Property Development, said during a recent tour.

While the public won't have access to the rooftop garden -- it is reserved for office employees -- they can take full advantage of a landscaped, tree-surrounded courtyard behind the building, with tables and chairs for reading and relaxing.

But the project's greatest public benefit, which Peters said he expects to be around for many years, is the long-awaited roughly 8,000-square-foot market, a replacement for the beloved JJ&F Market.

The new market will have features that Peters said should make it more successful than other small groceries at renovated shopping centers in the city, he said.

Palo Alto's recent history with small, neighborhood grocery stores has been dubious. Miki's Farm Fresh Market at Alma Village failed after less than six months; The Fresh Market also closed after a six-month stint at Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center. But unlike the other stores, the College Terrace Centre market will have outdoor seating and a fresh open market right at the sidewalk to appeal to passersby. Retractable canopies will also protect the area during inclement weather or hot summer days, Peters said.

To also help keep the small market viable, the lease conditions are highly favorable to the market tenant, he added, without disclosing the terms.

"The way the lease is designed, the grocer will be here a long time. We worked to assemble a deal that is affordable and the economic structure benefits the grocer," said Peters, who believes the open-air produce market will be a cornerstone of the neighborhood.

The market will have the look and feel of a neighborhood market, with wine, cheese and fresh produce, a delicatessen, an array of wines and a coffee shop with a barista, Peters said.

College Terrace Centre also seems to have an ally in Peters, who appreciates the value of a neighborhood grocer.

"In my neighborhood in San Francisco, I love going to my corner grocery store. Three brothers own it and I walk in and it's a family environment," he said.

At College Terrace Centre, Miki Werness, former owner of Miki's Farm Fresh, will run the market.

"We have an operator that knows the community and is visible to the community," Peters said.

As to the rest of the center, the entire office portion of the development has been leased by an undisclosed "large credit company," Peters said. The retail tenants have not yet been signed, but he expects there could be up to three shops in addition to the market. Palo Alto Housing will manage the below-market-rate units, which are in a separate building behind the commercial building.

Greystone, which is based in New York, owns the center and is the managing partner. Its core business is in low-income housing lending and a large portion is in senior living. The company is involved in much mixed-use and multifamily properties, Peters said.

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Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Community
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2016 at 10:35 am

Great to hear the opening is close. I wonder what type of place will the area "- they can take full advantage of a landscaped, tree-surrounded courtyard behind the building, with tables and chairs for reading and relaxing" be? Is it part of the grocery store? or some other place for people to hang out?

Also, thought Yelp was going to move in, now there is no mention of them. Change of plans?


29 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2016 at 10:45 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

"public won't have access to the rooftop garden " - Great, we can feel good about the rooftop garden while we sit in the traffic caused by the 45,572 square feet of office space. But no worries, Palo Alto got 8 affordable housing units. But as long as it is "transit-oriented" we should love it, right?


5 people like this
Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2016 at 10:54 am

I hope the grocery store accepts Cal-Fresh EBT for those families who live there and around Palo Alto and need a healthy well of food choices to draw from.


16 people like this
Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2016 at 10:57 am

Exclusive roof-top garden only for business's to enjoy not low-income family residents????


4 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Nov 1, 2016 at 11:03 am

Yelp changed its plans back in January.


7 people like this
Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2016 at 11:11 am

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

We are eagerly waiting for this center to open and the market to serve our needs in college terrace.

regards


46 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2016 at 11:12 am

Surprising that this article doesn't mention an important distinction: This is the certainly the ugliest building in Palo Alto - it might be the ugliest in all of CA. My children (yes, even children) thought the name of the construction company was an apt description of the design: BLECH!


15 people like this
Posted by Phil
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Its great that with subsidies the city was able to keep the "small market viable". Now how about a plan to keep the retail stores on California Ave viable. An improved parking plan to provide more "short term parking" for retail customers would help.
Thus far the renovation of California Ave has been a boom to the restaurant business by allowing more tables but the retail businesses have had no relief. Many retail shoppers can only shop during their extended lunch hour and parking is difficult to find where 2hr, 3hr and permit parking are given preference.


7 people like this
Posted by susan
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 1, 2016 at 12:10 pm

I just wonder if they had an architectural "committee" or changed architects mid-stream because the new buildings represent so many different styles of architecture. Wondering what the "back story is" since originally it was supposed to be occupied by YELP and then that dissipated. My curious gene has emerged. Thanks


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Something wrong about an article singing the praises of a wonderful rooftop garden that none of us will likely see.

Really nice perk for the office workers.


17 people like this
Posted by Absent good taste
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2016 at 1:38 pm

My sympathies to the people who live nearby who cannot avoid seeing that garish screaming tasteless color. The building is awful, at least it should be painted a quiet color.
Those of us who drive by can avert our eyes.
It seems good taste is an outdated concept.


23 people like this
Posted by Kerry55
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 1, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Kerry55 is a registered user.

Please repaint the outside, the golden color hurts my eyes.


7 people like this
Posted by Eric S.
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 1, 2016 at 2:03 pm

People sure like to crab about things. Architecture is bad, color is bad, grocery store is questioned, rooftop garden isn't for public, traffic generation. And that's just in the first couple of hours of comments.


17 people like this
Posted by 2nd ugliest building
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 1, 2016 at 2:24 pm

This is the 2nd ugliest building in Palo Alto. The first being the corner of Alma and Homer. I still can't believe that this passed the architectural review board. This in now way blends in or add any quality to the beautiful of Palo Alto. It looks like something from a strip mall in a new suburan development. Eye sore. At least please change the colors. please.


17 people like this
Posted by Janet
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2016 at 2:35 pm

I live in College Terrace. I must say that I like the look of the new place. Uplifting and bright (not depressing). Garden on top. Outdoor veggies. And it got rid of that messy block that was there, before.

Thank you to the new owners and Blach Construction!


12 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@2nd ugliest building -no way, this is way uglier! Both the awful color, and the cheap construction.


13 people like this
Posted by Mr. Palo Alto
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2016 at 2:54 pm

This building is an incredible eyesore - how did this travesty get through the Palo Alto process. Once again City leaders are asleep at the switch. Does anyone think this building represents the character of Palo Alto? When are we going to get some sort of design parameters for El Camino so that it has a somewhat consistent look and feel, instead of a hodge-podge of disjointed ugly buildings. What a horrible design!


2 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Actually, City Hall is the ugliest building in Palo Alto. But we'll never be able to get rid of it.


6 people like this
Posted by 6Djockey
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 1, 2016 at 3:47 pm

6Djockey is a registered user.

I chuckle at the nominations for the Ugliest Building. Apparently those nomiating haven't seen the Ken Hayes debacle on El Camino at the north end of El Camino way.


7 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 1, 2016 at 4:00 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

Looking toward the building from Cambridge the first thought that came to mind were what a hulk.. My second thought is that's what I'm going to call it. The Hulk. I am told First Republic is going to be the tenant and they want to repaint it their colors.

Hope they have an open house for the neighborhood so we can have a look at the roof garden.


10 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 1, 2016 at 4:02 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

The public plaza is behind the grocery store on the corner of Staunton and Oxford.


22 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2016 at 6:40 pm

We are excited to see the project come to fruition and looking forward to the new market. The development includes public outdoor space on the corner of Staunton and Oxford. Is it normal for office buildings to allow the public to freely enter a building to lounge, let alone on a roof? Would any of us want the public passing freely through our office space?


24 people like this
Posted by Sara
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Wow! This is an excellent improvement for the previously tired and run down block.


2 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 1, 2016 at 10:26 pm

It will be great to have a grocery store again. The rooftop garden sounds delightful -- natural insulation while providing butterfly and hummingbird habitat. I'm glad there will be a garden, even if I never get to see it. As for the design -- it seems a bad joke. And people complain about the "brutalist" building nearby!


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:47 am

Strangely enough, as I read the article I assumed that the rooftop garden was going to be adjoining a restaurant or something. I was actually looking forward to a visit to the restaurant to check it out. We don't have many rooftop restaurants on the Peninsula (if any) so I thought it was a great idea. Then when I read it was only for office workers, I was disappointed.

Just my perspective on the article.


10 people like this
Posted by Freefall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2016 at 5:29 am

This is a hideous project - and the color clashes
terribly with the Shell station next to it compounding the visual assault. This is so out of
context with its surroundings - in that sense
like the Cheesecake Factory on University Ave
also approved by the ARB. When you drive around
Palo Alto it looks like a city that has no design
review, no land use planning, no zoning control-
just more signs and more paint all over the streets
is what we get from our city government.


9 people like this
Posted by Eye Sore
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2016 at 8:38 am

Yes I nominate this building as the Ugliest Building based on design & color in Palo Alto! It's spin-off from the cheap "tacobell" houses.....reminds me of something you'd see central valley area.


5 people like this
Posted by HEY P.A.Online
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2016 at 10:48 am

Palo Alto Online: I think the comments above are super interesting (to some of us, more interesting than a private roof garden). Why not write an article about this and broaden the discussion?

PS And yes, I agree with those commenters who find this design and color to be atrocious


8 people like this
Posted by jens j
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2016 at 10:56 am

This building is a major improvement to what was there. People who have the time to comment predominantly are from the "complain segment" of our town. First is steel and glass, now it is the color and roof tops that are not accessible to all. I am looking forward to visit the market daily, because I can walk to it. Change can be good!


3 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:46 am

If you don't like this result, speak out now on the mammoth Mike's Bikes redevelopment proposal. Let's hope Miki's (II) can make it. If not, it's three strikes and you're out for small grocery stores in Palo Alto. Either that or we blame the pimiento paint color, but never our own failure to frequent the business! I look forward to trying it out.


4 people like this
Posted by Mary Jane
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:50 am

I too was shocked by how ugly the color of the building was. I think the clocktower is a replica of one above a Safeway I've seen before. Through the rumor mill I've heard they are repainting it so it may improve! Stay tuned.


1 person likes this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:03 pm

How nice that there is a rooftop garden. Unfortunately it is open to only office workers. It should be open to the public, at least those nearby (Barron Park and College Terrace).
I hope the new market will have a good meat counter. When JJ&F closed we lost one. Each neighborhood should have a good meat counter with butchers present so that they can cut a smaller piece if needed and the ground meat and sausage done on premises.
JJ&F family knew the business and ran an excellent shop until the landlord refused to repair the roof.


15 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2016 at 8:05 am

In one breath, this project is very exciting and positive for the the community. In a second breath, it's sad that the article spins the project facts to cause backlash from the community. Are we that uneducated that we can't read between the lines? In a third breath, the negative community comments only validate that a Palo Altans behavior is no different than an entitled millenial. Show some class people!


4 people like this
Posted by Waiting For a Store
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2016 at 4:04 pm

"It will be great to have a grocery store again."

That's what we Edgewood neighbors have been thinking for almost a decade. We hope you have better luck over there. In the meantime, keep some grains of salt handy, to take with any promises you might get.


2 people like this
Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 4, 2016 at 5:38 am

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

Reliable sources say that the outside paint is not permanent yellow.

Can we start with our expertise and Name that Paint contest?

Stanford colors
Town and Country colors
Blue?
Red?
Black?
White?

respectfully


2 people like this
Posted by Terrance
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Greystone Property Development is not the owner, they are a financing firm. Shoddy reporting here.


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

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