East Palo Alto's only funeral home, Jones Mortuary, could be razed and replaced by a multistory office building, according to city documents.
The 47-year-old mortuary, located in the city's Gateway District, is a prime retail-and-office location that includes Amazon offices, Ikea and Ravenswood 101 Shopping Center.
Mortuary owner and company president Charles Jones sent the city an authorization letter on May 18, 2017, allowing Calvano Development to pursue development plans for the property, according to documents filed with the city's Economic Development Department. Calvano, a San Francisco-based private development company, approached the city in January of this year regarding three potential office-development plans for the 1.2-acre site, which is located at 660 Donohoe St. Jones "made a conscious decision to sell his property to a qualified Bay Area developer to assure his property would be redeveloped to the highest and best use," the letter noted.
Calvano's three proposals include a 14-story, 280,000-square-foot office building (183 feet tall); 11-story, 180,000-square-foot building (138 feet tall); or a five-story, 90,000-square-foot building (75 feet tall). Architectural renderings show the 14-story building would have eight floors of offices stacked on top of eight levels of garage space, two of which would be below ground, that would accommodate more than 720 vehicles.
There is currently a 75-foot height limit in the Gateway District under existing zoning and land-use policies, city planning and housing manager Guido Persicone said.
The 14-story building would generate about $700,000 annually, or $35 million over the building's 50-year lifespan, in revenue for the city under Measure HH, the parcel tax on commercial developments greater than 25,000 square feet passed by voters last November. At 11 stories, the building would produce $450,000 annually or $22.5 million over 50 years. The smallest plan -- a five-story building -- would produce $225,000 annually or $11.25 million over 50 years, according to the proposal.
The two largest plans would require the City Council's approval of a negotiated development agreement with community benefits. Public benefits for the 14-story building could include a transportation demand management (TDM) plan to reduce traffic impacts; cash donations for water infrastructure development; and contributions to improve public transit, the public right-of-way and sidewalks. An 11-story proposal would add a TDM plan and donations for water infrastructure, according to the proposal.
Calvano Development President Mark Calvano declined to discuss the project due to the project being in its very preliminary stage. Jones did not return a request for comment.
East Palo Alto Assistant City Manager Sean Charpentier also stressed that the project is only at the earliest stages of consideration and planning; there will be public hearings as the proposal is better refined. City planning staff said they have returned the proposal to the developer for modifications, including a reduced height for the project.
At 14 stories, the proposed project would be the tallest in the city thus far, but not as tall as some buildings in neighboring Palo Alto. The Palo Alto Business Center at 437 Cowper St. off of University Avenue is 15 stories and 237 feet tall. The 13-story The Marc apartment complex at 501 Forest Ave. is 152 feet tall. The city's two tallest buildings are at Palo Alto Square at the corner of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road, which are each 143 feet tall, according to online building database Emporis.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to state the city's limit is 75 feet for the Gateway zone, but the City Council has the discretion to change the limit in certain instances under the city's general plan.