News

Mayer pitches new vision for Palo Alto's oldest funeral home

City Council set to get its first look tonight at The Corner House, a club proposed by former Yahoo CEO

When Marissa Mayer bought the Roller & Hapgood & Tinney mortuary in downtown Palo Alto five years ago for $11.2 million, no one knew what the future would hold for the property -- not even Mayer herself.

"I was busy at the time," the former Yahoo CEO told the Palo Alto Weekly. "I had three children in two years, and I was also running a pretty demanding company. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about what to do with it. Part of it was, I hoped the use would make itself apparent to me."

Now it has. Tonight the City Council will get its first look at Mayer's newest venture: a proposal to transform the city's oldest funeral home into a club focused on working women and families.

Known as The Corner House, the roughly 11,000-square-foot building at 980 Middlefield Road and Addison Avenue would "provide a vibrant, welcoming space for traditional and non-traditional professionals to collaborate, work, learn, find support, build community, and spend time with their families, friends and neighbors," the application states.

As such, Mayer said, it would boast a cafe, a gym, a garden, a patio and other amenities for those who like to work hard (parents) and play hard (children), with a special focus on working moms.

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"We want to reimagine what a kids club or a family club can offer," Mayer said.

Though The Corner House would be miniscule compared to the large fiefdoms operated by her former employers, Google and Yahoo, Mayer hopes it will similarly spark a cross-pollination of ideas.

"I really enjoyed some of those amenities that come from spending part of your day on a campus. It's nice to have a coffee and snacks and to have a cafeteria available. It's nice to be able to run into interesting people working on interesting projects all the time and to have interesting discussions. Part of this is to make those kinds of benefits and happenstance meetings happen outside the conference room."

Mayer believes The Corner House will fill an important need in Palo Alto, where she's also noticed a shortage of space for enrichment classes. Her children's favorite music teacher, she noted, recently lost his classroom at a local church. She has been approached by other potential beneficiaries, including a local art teacher and work-from-home professionals who would like to be able to book spaces to meet with clients or collaborate with others.

With the renovation, Mayer is looking to enliven the mortuary inside and out. Her proposal includes changing the roofline to make the building look and feel more like a home, enlarging the interior atrium and adding windows and an internal courtyard. The goal is to add light to a building whose atmosphere has historically been dark and, well, funereal.

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Inside, The Corner House would feature collaboration spaces, coworking tables and classrooms for art, music, culinary arts and professional development.

There would be family-oriented programming such as tutoring and support groups, a speaker series, networking events and "family bonding experiences" like indoor picnics and charity fundraisers.

The club would not be exclusively for women, she notes -- "We will not discriminate against any individual" -- though it would probably be most attractive to women. Its offerings, for example, would include a nursing room, and its among its programming would be a seminar on how to start a business as a working mother.

And even though it would be classified by the city as a "private club," it would not be exclusively for members. Mayer said the goal is to have a membership program to sustain the operation financially. Memberships would cost about $200 (or $300, to also rent a locker). But some of its classes and events would be open to non-members as well, she said.

The Corner House would also provide free or affordable rental space for nonprofit groups at least 12 times a year and host, free of charge, at least 10 meetings annually for the purpose of "community outreach, volunteering, charity or other like use cases," according to the application.

The Corner House would also house various "free or under-market-rate classes, workshops or other events" for the broader community at least six times per year.

Council faces project's PC zone request

In reviewing the project, the council will be forced to reckon with one critical question: Is it a private club or a community center? The answer to that question could be key to the council's determination of whether to grant Mayer the zone change she seeks.

Under the present "planned community" (PC) zone, the property can only be used as a funeral home. Before that zone was implemented in 1963, the property consisted of three parcels, each zoned for low-density residential use (the zoning districts were R-3-P, R-3 and R-2). To make her vision a reality, Mayer has to convince the council to effectively amend the "planned community" zone on the site -- the type of request council members have been loathe to grant since 2013. That's when voters overturned in a referendum the city's last approved PC zone, one that would have allowed construction of 60 apartments for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes on a former orchard site on Mayell Avenue. Given the public outcry, the council put a moratorium on new "planned community" zones the following year. The zoning designation, which allows the council to waive underlying development standards and negotiate directly with the developer, hasn't been used in Palo Alto since.

In pursuing The Corner House, Mayer's team thus needs to convince the council that the public benefit of having the new meeting space is sufficient to overcome the community's and council's resistance to PC zones.

For some, this may be a hard sell. Councilmen Tom DuBois and Cory Wolbach, both of whom are running for re-election, each told the Weekly that they don't support relying on the PC zone for new developments. DuBois said he does not want to revive the zone. Wolbach said the city should get rid of the zoning mechanism and instead rely more on "coordinated area plans," in which the community works with developers to create land-use visions for particular areas.

Vice Mayor Eric Filseth, who is also seeking a fresh term, said that he'd rather see the city use existing zoning districts to encourage the types of projects it wants to see, though if an applicant makes a "really strong case" that no standard zoning fits the project, he said he wouldn't rule out a PC zone.

"But I do think it's a slippery slope because everybody will say, 'My project is special.' I think we have to be mature, wise and judicious about those things," Filseth said.

Others in the community are more open. Alison Cormack, who is a candidate for council and who if elected would end up ruling on Mayer's project, said she would be willing to consider the proposed PC project. She noted, however, that the project is still in its earliest phase and that she would have to learn much more about it to evaluate whether this would be the best use for the site, from a perspective of providing significant enough public benefit.

She pointed to the example of First Baptist Church, which last year was on the verge of losing its right to rent spaces to nonprofits because planning staff had determined that doing so would violate the zoning code. (The church was ultimately granted a "conditional use permit" to allow these uses to continue.)

"Look at First Baptist, look at the demand for Cubberley -- there's a huge demand for people to have places to gather together and share their experiences," Cormack said. "That may be what this is, and that may be incredibly valuable, as is housing."

Questions about parking, traffic

In addition to the broad zoning issues, Mayer's team -- which includes former Palo Alto planning director Steve Emslie -- will also have to convince the city that The Corner House will not disrupt the neighborhood in more concrete ways. Since the proposal became public, some residents have argued that the project could bring more traffic and noise into the neighborhood, while not providing enough parking spots. (Council candidate Pat Boone is centering his entire campaign on reducing traffic, which includes slowing down the pace of new development.)

The site currently has 45 parking spaces. Mayer's initial renovation plan proposed only 36 spaces, but Mayer said that her team has since increased parking to 55. The Corner House, she added, would offer credits for Uber and Lyft to families coming in for evening events. For daily trips, she said the facility would encourage visitors to walk, bike or rely on public transportation.

She also said she is confident that the traffic would be manageable. Community centers, she said, typically add about two trips per 100 square feet during peak commute hours. For her project, this would amount to about 22 peak-hour trips.

City planners, however, remain concerned. Given that up to 400 people may use the space during evening or weekend hours, staff wrote in a report that "it is not clear that the proposed parking would be sufficient to accommodate the day-to-day use at the site" (the report, it should be noted, was referring to the 36-space plan).

As for noise, she said her team is complying with all the restrictions that the city currently has in place for other community spaces. Yes, there would be some noise during special events (most of these would be birthday parties, she said). But all outdoor events with amplified sound would be required to cease operations by 9 p.m. between Sunday and Thursday, and at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

She also noted that, if approved, The Corner House would be able to manage its own impacts by having complete control over when its events take place and how many people attend -- something that its predecessor the funeral home, by its very nature, could not do.

Despite its focus on working women, the club would look and feel "more like a coffee house than an office," Mayer said. There would be family-friendly functions like music recitals and seasonal celebrations like pumpkin-carving during Halloween -- a holiday that she has been known to celebrate with particular gusto both at her home, one block away, and at the mortuary.

"We will have fun events to get into the holiday spirit," Mayer said.

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Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

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Mayer pitches new vision for Palo Alto's oldest funeral home

City Council set to get its first look tonight at The Corner House, a club proposed by former Yahoo CEO

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 1, 2018, 9:03 am

When Marissa Mayer bought the Roller & Hapgood & Tinney mortuary in downtown Palo Alto five years ago for $11.2 million, no one knew what the future would hold for the property -- not even Mayer herself.

"I was busy at the time," the former Yahoo CEO told the Palo Alto Weekly. "I had three children in two years, and I was also running a pretty demanding company. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about what to do with it. Part of it was, I hoped the use would make itself apparent to me."

Now it has. Tonight the City Council will get its first look at Mayer's newest venture: a proposal to transform the city's oldest funeral home into a club focused on working women and families.

Known as The Corner House, the roughly 11,000-square-foot building at 980 Middlefield Road and Addison Avenue would "provide a vibrant, welcoming space for traditional and non-traditional professionals to collaborate, work, learn, find support, build community, and spend time with their families, friends and neighbors," the application states.

As such, Mayer said, it would boast a cafe, a gym, a garden, a patio and other amenities for those who like to work hard (parents) and play hard (children), with a special focus on working moms.

"We want to reimagine what a kids club or a family club can offer," Mayer said.

Though The Corner House would be miniscule compared to the large fiefdoms operated by her former employers, Google and Yahoo, Mayer hopes it will similarly spark a cross-pollination of ideas.

"I really enjoyed some of those amenities that come from spending part of your day on a campus. It's nice to have a coffee and snacks and to have a cafeteria available. It's nice to be able to run into interesting people working on interesting projects all the time and to have interesting discussions. Part of this is to make those kinds of benefits and happenstance meetings happen outside the conference room."

Mayer believes The Corner House will fill an important need in Palo Alto, where she's also noticed a shortage of space for enrichment classes. Her children's favorite music teacher, she noted, recently lost his classroom at a local church. She has been approached by other potential beneficiaries, including a local art teacher and work-from-home professionals who would like to be able to book spaces to meet with clients or collaborate with others.

With the renovation, Mayer is looking to enliven the mortuary inside and out. Her proposal includes changing the roofline to make the building look and feel more like a home, enlarging the interior atrium and adding windows and an internal courtyard. The goal is to add light to a building whose atmosphere has historically been dark and, well, funereal.

Inside, The Corner House would feature collaboration spaces, coworking tables and classrooms for art, music, culinary arts and professional development.

There would be family-oriented programming such as tutoring and support groups, a speaker series, networking events and "family bonding experiences" like indoor picnics and charity fundraisers.

The club would not be exclusively for women, she notes -- "We will not discriminate against any individual" -- though it would probably be most attractive to women. Its offerings, for example, would include a nursing room, and its among its programming would be a seminar on how to start a business as a working mother.

And even though it would be classified by the city as a "private club," it would not be exclusively for members. Mayer said the goal is to have a membership program to sustain the operation financially. Memberships would cost about $200 (or $300, to also rent a locker). But some of its classes and events would be open to non-members as well, she said.

The Corner House would also provide free or affordable rental space for nonprofit groups at least 12 times a year and host, free of charge, at least 10 meetings annually for the purpose of "community outreach, volunteering, charity or other like use cases," according to the application.

The Corner House would also house various "free or under-market-rate classes, workshops or other events" for the broader community at least six times per year.

Council faces project's PC zone request

In reviewing the project, the council will be forced to reckon with one critical question: Is it a private club or a community center? The answer to that question could be key to the council's determination of whether to grant Mayer the zone change she seeks.

Under the present "planned community" (PC) zone, the property can only be used as a funeral home. Before that zone was implemented in 1963, the property consisted of three parcels, each zoned for low-density residential use (the zoning districts were R-3-P, R-3 and R-2). To make her vision a reality, Mayer has to convince the council to effectively amend the "planned community" zone on the site -- the type of request council members have been loathe to grant since 2013. That's when voters overturned in a referendum the city's last approved PC zone, one that would have allowed construction of 60 apartments for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes on a former orchard site on Mayell Avenue. Given the public outcry, the council put a moratorium on new "planned community" zones the following year. The zoning designation, which allows the council to waive underlying development standards and negotiate directly with the developer, hasn't been used in Palo Alto since.

In pursuing The Corner House, Mayer's team thus needs to convince the council that the public benefit of having the new meeting space is sufficient to overcome the community's and council's resistance to PC zones.

For some, this may be a hard sell. Councilmen Tom DuBois and Cory Wolbach, both of whom are running for re-election, each told the Weekly that they don't support relying on the PC zone for new developments. DuBois said he does not want to revive the zone. Wolbach said the city should get rid of the zoning mechanism and instead rely more on "coordinated area plans," in which the community works with developers to create land-use visions for particular areas.

Vice Mayor Eric Filseth, who is also seeking a fresh term, said that he'd rather see the city use existing zoning districts to encourage the types of projects it wants to see, though if an applicant makes a "really strong case" that no standard zoning fits the project, he said he wouldn't rule out a PC zone.

"But I do think it's a slippery slope because everybody will say, 'My project is special.' I think we have to be mature, wise and judicious about those things," Filseth said.

Others in the community are more open. Alison Cormack, who is a candidate for council and who if elected would end up ruling on Mayer's project, said she would be willing to consider the proposed PC project. She noted, however, that the project is still in its earliest phase and that she would have to learn much more about it to evaluate whether this would be the best use for the site, from a perspective of providing significant enough public benefit.

She pointed to the example of First Baptist Church, which last year was on the verge of losing its right to rent spaces to nonprofits because planning staff had determined that doing so would violate the zoning code. (The church was ultimately granted a "conditional use permit" to allow these uses to continue.)

"Look at First Baptist, look at the demand for Cubberley -- there's a huge demand for people to have places to gather together and share their experiences," Cormack said. "That may be what this is, and that may be incredibly valuable, as is housing."

Questions about parking, traffic

In addition to the broad zoning issues, Mayer's team -- which includes former Palo Alto planning director Steve Emslie -- will also have to convince the city that The Corner House will not disrupt the neighborhood in more concrete ways. Since the proposal became public, some residents have argued that the project could bring more traffic and noise into the neighborhood, while not providing enough parking spots. (Council candidate Pat Boone is centering his entire campaign on reducing traffic, which includes slowing down the pace of new development.)

The site currently has 45 parking spaces. Mayer's initial renovation plan proposed only 36 spaces, but Mayer said that her team has since increased parking to 55. The Corner House, she added, would offer credits for Uber and Lyft to families coming in for evening events. For daily trips, she said the facility would encourage visitors to walk, bike or rely on public transportation.

She also said she is confident that the traffic would be manageable. Community centers, she said, typically add about two trips per 100 square feet during peak commute hours. For her project, this would amount to about 22 peak-hour trips.

City planners, however, remain concerned. Given that up to 400 people may use the space during evening or weekend hours, staff wrote in a report that "it is not clear that the proposed parking would be sufficient to accommodate the day-to-day use at the site" (the report, it should be noted, was referring to the 36-space plan).

As for noise, she said her team is complying with all the restrictions that the city currently has in place for other community spaces. Yes, there would be some noise during special events (most of these would be birthday parties, she said). But all outdoor events with amplified sound would be required to cease operations by 9 p.m. between Sunday and Thursday, and at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

She also noted that, if approved, The Corner House would be able to manage its own impacts by having complete control over when its events take place and how many people attend -- something that its predecessor the funeral home, by its very nature, could not do.

Despite its focus on working women, the club would look and feel "more like a coffee house than an office," Mayer said. There would be family-friendly functions like music recitals and seasonal celebrations like pumpkin-carving during Halloween -- a holiday that she has been known to celebrate with particular gusto both at her home, one block away, and at the mortuary.

"We will have fun events to get into the holiday spirit," Mayer said.

Comments

Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2018 at 10:33 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2018 at 10:33 am

The spot should be developed for housing (live, growing people, not stiffs) and maybe, at her discretion she could donate part of her flip to an arts and events center at Cubberley.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2018 at 11:03 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2018 at 11:03 am

When a multi-millionaire has a “private club” it’s elitist, exclusionary, anti- neighborhood and plutocratic, no matter how many former city staff she hires to do her bidding.
I wish someone in the council race had the courage to say no to power.


Louise
Greene Middle School
on Oct 1, 2018 at 11:06 am
Louise, Greene Middle School
on Oct 1, 2018 at 11:06 am

Not once did Allison Cormack mention the negative impacts to the residents. Only looking at it from a one sided perspective of making it happen for business ventures. It is irrevalent First Baptist Church that provides “community” spaces and only for a few. The relevance should be the impact to neighbors who come home for peace and quiet, the lack parking spaces and the drop off and pick up that is used by hundreds of students.

Cormack’s response disparages residents.


All moms are working moms
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 1, 2018 at 11:10 am
All moms are working moms, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2018 at 11:10 am

Dear Marissa,

All moms are working moms. (This goes for dads, too.)

Instead of creating a private club, why don't you create a community club for all working parents (moms and dads, paid and unpaid) that provides a place for PTAs and other parent volunteer groups to gather and work and play together (affordably, please). Build community. Bring people together. Don't break us into (paid/unpaid) factions. This concept is not helpful.

Pumpkin carving, music performances? These are things we do in our schools. Create an organization that SUPPORTS all local families and encourages engagement with our school community-building activities, Marissa. Again, bring people together.

So far, I don't see that this project delivers broad-based public benefits necessary to merit PC zoning and the density bonuses that come with that. I'd oppose this the way it is currently described.




Words
Community Center
on Oct 1, 2018 at 11:14 am
Words, Community Center
on Oct 1, 2018 at 11:14 am

Uber and Lyft are not a solution - they may solve a parking problem but cause another - a ride service still brings in vehicles and can be very disruptive.

How will this affect the school community across the street? - more traffic, more parking congestion, more accidents?
Just a block away at Lincoln and Middelfeild there is accident after accident, we don't need more traffic in this area.

IS MM afraid to go out of her own backyard? Take your club elsewhere please.


Neighbor
University South
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:11 pm
Neighbor, University South
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:11 pm

I was positively inclined toward this project, seemed like a creative idea. Then I discovered that former Palo Alto planning director Steve Emslie was working on it.
The Revolving door is so common here. A city planning director working for developers who come before the city. Disgraceful. He isn't working on the Castilleja development anymore? or for Mr. Arrilaga?


Neighbor
Professorville
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:17 pm
Neighbor, Professorville
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:17 pm

What about teacher housing?


Who Cares
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:21 pm
Who Cares, Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Sounds like a glorified babysitting daycare center for Palo Alto socialite schmoozing.

Marissa are you going to invite the low income housing moms next door over to your [portion removed] club? For free?

[Portion removed.]


Paly Parent
Professorville
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:38 pm
Paly Parent, Professorville
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:38 pm

I'm excited for this. As a telecommuting-working-full-time mom, isolation is a struggle I deal with daily. Having this resource within walking distance would be huge. My kids are no longer in elementary school, but a neighborhood center would have been served them well at the time--getting space at Lucie Stern for things like girl scout meetings, art classes, etc is just not realistic--too much demand and too expensive. Mitchell Park Community Center had a lot of opportunities--but too far for them to go on their own. Ditto re open studio type opportunities at the art center--just aren't enough available offerings, particularly in the evenings when a working mom could attend. Sign me up!


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:56 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:56 pm

An elite private club in the middle of a residential neighborhood, in the middle of a housing crunch, when the major political issue of the day is abuse by the powerful and income inequality ... no way, is this city -expletive_deleted- stupid?


What? Stay on topic!
Palo Verde
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:28 pm
What? Stay on topic!, Palo Verde
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:28 pm

@ Louise,

How on earth could Cormack's comments possibly be twisted into "disparages residents"?

My reading of her comments is that Cormack is open to hearing the merits of both sides, and as someone who really understands how Palo Altan's use public and private meeting spaces, has valuable insights into how a project like this can impact the neighbourhood. She punctuated her comments with real world examples of how projects impact life in Palo Alto.

This is an interesting project. The "exclusivity" of the "private" club is a question that we all would like answered. If the impacts are local, local folks should be capable of joining.

We all need more details.


Sanctimonious City
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:46 pm
Sanctimonious City, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:46 pm

It is nice to see it will be an inclusive community space as it will be a great solution to RV parking and over crowding in other cities.

Just imagine the possibilities.... Overflow cars along the neighborhood streets and a line of plastic-walled, transmission-fluid-dripping and lead-exhaust-spewing temporary homes.

For convenience, please don't put locks on the bathrooms, showers, kitchens or laundry areas as they will be popular ammenities. Also, if it is not too much trouble could we have a few lawn chairs out front as it would be a great place to hang out next to our vehicles to smoke some newly legal plants and enjoy the sunsets.

We will make it part of our regular rotation from ECR near Stanford to the shopping center parking lots to this new retreat. Thank you for being so welcoming. Palo Alto is awesome!


KR
Portola Valley
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm
KR, Portola Valley
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

I think this proposal sounds great. We need more spaces where working parents can gather, particularly those who freelance or work flexible schedules. It is isolating to be at home all the time. Coffee shops are often crowded, plus they offer no childcare.

Thank you for bringing this innovative project to Palo Alto!


Waving Goodbye to PA
Professorville
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:55 pm
Waving Goodbye to PA, Professorville
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:55 pm

>When a multi-millionaire has a “private club” it’s elitist, exclusionary, anti- neighborhood and plutocratic, no matter how many former city staff she hires to do her bidding.

I wish someone in the council race had the courage to say no to power.

*and risk not getting invited to the gala opening? no one wants to be left out of the photo-op. selfie anyone?

>> An elite private club in the middle of a residential neighborhood, in the middle of a housing crunch, when the major political issue of the day is abuse by the powerful and income inequality ... no way, is this city -expletive_deleted- stupid?

*the answer is in the question.

>>>Sounds like a glorified babysitting daycare center for Palo Alto socialite schmoozing.

Marissa are you going to invite the low income housing moms next door over to your [portion removed] club? For free?

*highly unlikely.


Palo Alto is raising the bar on exclusivity and MM is leading the parade.


Oldster
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Oldster, Old Palo Alto
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:58 pm

This proposal end will up at City Council level with some screaming "elitist!", "too much new traffic!", or "more housing of X sort" hanging onto their opinions with nothing in the world able to make them change their core opinions.

Kudos to Ms. Meyer for entering the cut throat world of Palo Alto land use process. Brave soul. I expect Ms. Meyer and Mr. Emslie have been working hard trying to craft a new land use plan to satisfy as many of the conflicting opinions as possible. For example, how can one call this proposal "elitist" if there are more benefits for low-income individuals and groups than our Winter Lodge, Palo Alto Women's Club, Palo Alto Men's Club, and Boy Scouts at Lucy Stern Center perhaps have combined?

(Yep... the Palo Alto Men's Club.... I await the Palo Allto Weekly article on that just a few blocks away from the old funeral home! Will it survive socially or financially more than 50 years? Who knows?)

I do wish any Palo Alto official paid or appointed official was barred from paid work lobbying or representling anyone at City Hall for at least 5 years. That is one of my "core" beliefs but I could be persuaded to reduce that to 2-3 years. So, yes, I totally understand the power of other's core beliefs,

Ms. Meyer is famous in her home's neighborhood for her over-the-top Halloween and Christmas parties. I love her bronze hippo "swimming" in her front yard. I look forward to seeing what she does at the old funeral home. Whatever she does will be something the majority of Palo Altoans will love and I suspect will be a 21st Century kind of semi-private community club which will be replicated all around the country. And, make places like the Palo Alto Men's and Women's clubs join the modern age.


ChrisC
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 1, 2018 at 2:11 pm
ChrisC, College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2018 at 2:11 pm

If the parking and traffic can be figured out, this seems like a great benefit to the community. When I first retired and thought I might re-enter the workforce, I would’ve loved to go hang out in such a place. It’s sad, however, that these days children are expected to “play hard.”


Waving Goodbye to PA
Professorville
on Oct 1, 2018 at 2:19 pm
Waving Goodbye to PA, Professorville
on Oct 1, 2018 at 2:19 pm

> Ms. Meyer is famous in her home's neighborhood for her over-the-top Halloween and Christmas parties. I love her bronze hippo "swimming" in her front yard. I look forward to seeing what she does at the old funeral home. Whatever she does will be something the majority of Palo Altoans will love and I suspect will be a 21st Century kind of semi-private community club which will be replicated all around the country.

*groan*


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 1, 2018 at 2:20 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Gennady: This project is in University South, not Professorville. The boundary of the current historic district is a couple of blocks away, at Cowper; the boundary of the neighborhood (and the original historic district) is a block farther away than that, at Waverley. The Weekly's "Palo Alto Neighborhoods" map gets this right, last time I checked. Web Link

"I love her bronze hippo "swimming" in her front yard." The hippo belonged to Marissa's neighbor; Marissa bought that property and removed the house there in order to expand her yard. Perhaps there's a cautionary tale there.


Gennady Sheyner
Registered user
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Oct 1, 2018 at 2:53 pm
Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2018 at 2:53 pm

@Allen Akin,

Thanks for the correction and sorry for the error. As you correctly point out, the property is indeed just east of Professorville, in University South. I corrected the story to reflect that fact.


Gus L.
Barron Park
on Oct 1, 2018 at 3:33 pm
Gus L., Barron Park
on Oct 1, 2018 at 3:33 pm

This is a great idea for a Woman's club people will be dying
to join, there may already be a waiting list..
I'm mourning the fact that as a Male I wont be able to join them..


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Yes, I'm confused about what "private club" means too.
Does it mean anyone can join for a monthly or yearly fee, or just certain people or friends of
Marissa Cormack are invited to join? I'd like more details too. Where's the public benefit?


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 1, 2018 at 3:52 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2018 at 3:52 pm

oops, I meant to say, Marissa Mayer not Cormack...


Counterclockwise
University South
on Oct 1, 2018 at 3:54 pm
Counterclockwise, University South
on Oct 1, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Why does it generate all those puffs of steam?


Rob
Atherton
on Oct 1, 2018 at 4:07 pm
Rob, Atherton
on Oct 1, 2018 at 4:07 pm

All moms are not working moms. Period.


Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2018 at 5:06 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2018 at 5:06 pm

"I do wish any Palo Alto official paid or appointed official was barred from paid work lobbying or representling anyone at City Hall for at least 5 years."

Including especially while actively employed by city hall.


Private clubs are private.
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 1, 2018 at 5:22 pm
Private clubs are private., Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2018 at 5:22 pm

Private clubs are privately controlled. That means, once they are built, the city has little control over how they are used, and the club may close its doors to anyone they don't want.

Remember when rich people would build a library for the whole community? Remember when people who felt isolated at home would volunteer in the community to build connections and relationships and do meaningful community service?

These were the people who helped create a vibrant and diverse Palo Alto. Marissa, I challenge you to create a facility the connects people to the whole community and encourages people to defeat isolation with community service. Bring people together.


R. Davis
Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2018 at 6:19 pm
R. Davis, Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2018 at 6:19 pm

QUOTE: Private clubs are privately controlled. That means, once they are built, the city has little control over how they are used, and the club may close its doors to anyone they don't want.

Old timers will recall the days when the PA Elks Club only accepted white folks. Things changed with dwindling memberships and social 'enlightenment'.


QUOTE: Remember when rich people would build a library for the whole community?

Again, old timers in PA will recall the wooden Carnegie Library on Hamilton where
City Hall now stands. Ironic how wealthy magnates (e.g. Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates et al) eventually come to realize that after decades of screwing people over, the massive amounts of money they have accrued begins to mean little within the greater scheme of things. So they create various foundations and grants in an effort to be remembered as 'good guys'...as a legacy for the ages.

"Behind every great fortune lies a crime." Honore de Balzac


As for Ms. Meyer...she has a couple of options/choices...create something that can benefit all Palo Altans regardless of their socio-economic/educational/ethnic backgrounds OR perpetuate an elitist mindset that limits certain opportunities & outlets to a limited few. It's her call.





common sense
Midtown
on Oct 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm
common sense, Midtown
on Oct 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm

For the past few years, all I've read about is the need for housing. These parcels should be re-zoned for housing only. If the city council rezones a parcel for a private club, we will all know that this "housing crisis" is a bunch of baloney.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2018 at 6:39 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Anything that is for women only or has some type of qualifying factor, is not a good thing for any of us. If she is going to run this as a business where she reaps the profits, it is only going to benefit her and the wealthy individuals able to join.

On the other hand, if she is community minded and runs this as a non-profit style facility, open to anyone who needs the facilities, regardless of whether they are women, parents, wealthy or anything else, then it would be much better doing so in an area with better access, parking, and infrastructure. Perhaps somewhere on Bayshore with good highway access next door to a coffee shop and retail. Is there any space now near Ikea as that place seems quite a good site to me.


Not just housing
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Oct 1, 2018 at 6:51 pm
Not just housing, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2018 at 6:51 pm

@common sense -- We cannot add housing without adding services for residents. We are already woefully lacking in retail. (Look at downtown Menlo Park or Los Altos or San Carlos for counter-examples.) The type of services proposed here seem relevant to a growing population, so I would welcome them.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2018 at 8:15 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2018 at 8:15 pm

I’m looking at 456 University as a cautionary tale relevant to what to do or permit for 980 Middlefield. One, there are laudable elements of this initiative but it would fit better downtown for example at 456 University; two, in 1995 council voted to permit the powerful landlord to convert a theater into a bookstore but it was pre-negotiated by the new tenant who put up additional money that it would revert back to a theater and performance space if the bookstore ever failed and somewhere along the line that was forgotten or revoked; Three, in 2014 there was considerable interest in a community space for performance space a lot like the plan here and staff time on a public private partnership but the owner rebuffed it and then said the new space would “rock“ Recently I tried to rent the space for a jazz concert and was told live music was no longer a use the owner would consider or the tenant. So my point is if the applicant has no history of offering a public benefit the burden of proof is on her not us.


one for all
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 1:00 am
one for all, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 1:00 am

In perusing all of the comments here, I am surprised that an indoor feline center has not been mentioned. Imagine the joy of those participating in the state-of-art facilities dedicated to the utter pampering of all Palo Alto cats.


This is Crazy!
Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2018 at 8:35 am
This is Crazy!, Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2018 at 8:35 am

My Question is.....who is going to get rid of all of the cucuy from the dead spirits having flowed through that place. I imagine a bon fire of burning sage will not suffice....you won't find me there......


The Mortuary Served a Better Purpose
Professorville
on Oct 2, 2018 at 9:05 am
The Mortuary Served a Better Purpose, Professorville
on Oct 2, 2018 at 9:05 am

>> My Question is.....who is going to get rid of all of the cucuy from the dead spirits having flowed through that place. I imagine a bon fire of burning sage will not suffice....

Since she already held a lavish Halloween Party, Ms. Mayer could work with a different theme for her next ghostly bash.

A Hispanic inspired "Day of the Dead" remembrance at the former mortuary site might suffice in alleviating your concerns. It's a three-day celebration (October 31-November 2) with food, drink and gifts...a seasonal party for the deceased.

Guests wearing colorful regional costumes, various skeletal figurines on display + lively music would add to a festive occasion.

Parking would still remain a problem and a 3-Day celebration might incur the wrath of some neighbors BUT at least no one could say that MM was being limited in scope or catering to a specific PA demographic.

Vaya Con Mayer!


A Noun Ea Mus
Professorville
on Oct 3, 2018 at 6:18 pm
A Noun Ea Mus , Professorville
on Oct 3, 2018 at 6:18 pm

The following 2 ideas for comedy only.

1) Show up at CC Meeting in style of that crusty old sea captain from Jaws at the CC Meeting. But now BBQ Aficionado under mistaken impression that there is a crematorium on site. Waxes on about converting crematorium into big sliding BBQ.
Then 2) guy shows up representing Palo Alto decency club. His kids go to Addison School. He emotionally pleads, ",what Dad wants to drop off or pick up their kids as virtual march of young women in yoga pants go to this site? Or attend back to school night as bevy of beauties dressed to the 9s go to an evening event?".

Serious aside. For years I did Bike Safety day for 3rd grades at Addison. With trailer creep blacktop was "endangered". I asked about doing it on their parking lot. Funeral home OK with it, BUT would have to cancel us is needed for service parking. So deal breaker. But I told them, "hey you could put up a sign 'we can wait for your business'".


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