Several homes owned by Stanford University in the College Terrace neighborhood that have been sitting empty for a year or more will be demolished and rebuilt in the next year, university staff told neighborhood leaders on May 16.
The seven older homes and two vacant lots are part of the university's estimated 23 properties in the College Terrace neighborhood. They will become housing for faculty, said David Kirk, project manager for redevelopment properties.
Contractors have already begun working on the first home, at 2070 Columbia St. Construction of all of the homes is expected to finish by October 2019. Faculty will be able to obtain ground leases for the homes, in which Stanford retains ownership of the land.
College Terrace residents say they have long desired the houses to be repaired or rented. They said the empty residences, colloquially called "ghost" houses, erode the quality of their neighborhood, although the university has kept up the yards.
City planning documents show the university has applied to replace single-story homes with two-story residences. The properties are at 2040 and 2070 Columbia St.; 2255 and 2035 Oberlin St.; 2320 Princeton St.; 2100 Cornell St.; 1015 Stanford Ave.; 739 and 757 College Ave. (See all nine properties up close with this map.) The existing original homes range from about 809 square feet to 1,452 square feet; the new ones will range from 2,249 square feet to 2,623 square feet. Each will have a detached garage.
Some residents expressed dismay that a few of the better-kept older houses won't be renovated, including the one at 1015 Stanford Ave. That house is particularly lovely inside and has a great front door, they said. The residents asked university officials to consider salvaging the clear-grain redwood and other features from some of the homes.
Kirk said demolition of the houses proved more cost-effective than renovating them. Many of the homes are small and are therefore undesirable for faculty.
The residents, concerned the university is trying to buy up the neighborhood, questioned Stanford staff about the university's long-term plans to acquire properties. College Terrace is adjacent to Stanford and sandwiched between the new 180-unit University Terrace faculty housing development on California Avenue and Escondido Village on Stanford Avenue. Both locations have a multiple types of housing, including single-family homes. It is also bordered by housing in the Peter Coutts development.
Stanford spokeswoman Jean McCown said the university has no long-term goal for buying up College Terrace, though it strives to provide a variety of housing to faculty.
But she reiterated what she said a year ago when the same question arose during a May 31 College Terrace Residents Association meeting: "Single-family homes in neighborhoods is what a lot of faculty want."
Stanford owns about 30 single-family homes throughout Palo Alto. About 120 homes in Menlo Park owned by Stanford are sold on ground leases, with most in the Stanford Hills and Stanford Creek areas, according to McCown.
Stanford does rent out some of its neighborhood housing and offers ground leases for its other College Terrace properties, she said.