News

After collapse, Silicon Valley Bank halts plan for branch on California Avenue

Bank was preparing to move into former location of Bank of the West

Silicon Valley Bank is halting its plan to open a branch on California Avenue in Palo Alto following its spectacular collapse late last week and its subsequent takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission.

A conceptual drawing submitted by Silicon Valley Bank shows the location of a proposed mural at 414 California Ave. in Palo Alto. Rendering courtesy city of Palo Alto.

The bank was preparing to take over a building at 414 California Ave. that had been vacant since the February 2022 departure of its prior occupant, Bank of the West. In June, Silicon Valley Bank applied to refurbish the site and add a mural to the prominent building in the city's second downtown.

The plans that were submitted last year by Studios Architecture, the project architect, called for removing the building-defining "breeze block" elements and replacing its stucco façade. It also included installing metal panels and a solar-sharing louver system.

The project had gone through the city's approval process and the city was about 99% of the way through resolving all the issues that the Architectural Review Board had flagged during its reviews, according to planning staff. Garrett Sauls, the project planner, said that the work, if approved, could still be carried out by the property owner, Arton Investments, or a future tenant should Silicon Valley Bank not move forward.

On Monday morning, however, Studios Architecture informed the city that Silicon Valley Bank wants to put the project on hold until they hear more from federal regulators, Sauls said in an email.

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"We're still figuring out internally what steps we are going to take for the project," Sauls said in an email.

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Gennady Sheyner
 
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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After collapse, Silicon Valley Bank halts plan for branch on California Avenue

Bank was preparing to move into former location of Bank of the West

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Mar 14, 2023, 9:40 am

Silicon Valley Bank is halting its plan to open a branch on California Avenue in Palo Alto following its spectacular collapse late last week and its subsequent takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission.

The bank was preparing to take over a building at 414 California Ave. that had been vacant since the February 2022 departure of its prior occupant, Bank of the West. In June, Silicon Valley Bank applied to refurbish the site and add a mural to the prominent building in the city's second downtown.

The plans that were submitted last year by Studios Architecture, the project architect, called for removing the building-defining "breeze block" elements and replacing its stucco façade. It also included installing metal panels and a solar-sharing louver system.

The project had gone through the city's approval process and the city was about 99% of the way through resolving all the issues that the Architectural Review Board had flagged during its reviews, according to planning staff. Garrett Sauls, the project planner, said that the work, if approved, could still be carried out by the property owner, Arton Investments, or a future tenant should Silicon Valley Bank not move forward.

On Monday morning, however, Studios Architecture informed the city that Silicon Valley Bank wants to put the project on hold until they hear more from federal regulators, Sauls said in an email.

"We're still figuring out internally what steps we are going to take for the project," Sauls said in an email.

Comments

Judith Wasserman
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 14, 2023 at 10:41 am
Judith Wasserman, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2023 at 10:41 am

I hope they take down the ugly green fence while they're thinking.


ALB
Registered user
College Terrace
on Mar 14, 2023 at 12:59 pm
ALB, College Terrace
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2023 at 12:59 pm

Many enjoy the lattice facade architectural element. Yes the fencing needs to come down. A cool restaurant concept like Cascal in Mountain View would be a good fit with music. So many people have said for years that the California Avenue Business Disttict has too many banks. Now StreetSmart the city’sconsultant is pushing a zoning change for ground floor to include medical offices. The avenue already has gyms and medical would create more dead spaces. Once you scrap retail it will never return. All of the housing in the pipeline will bring more consumers. One thought is if the Farmers’ Market is a deterrent to designing parklet design why not move it to the large parking lot at the train station as Mountain View has done?


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 14, 2023 at 1:14 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2023 at 1:14 pm

I wonder where they found the consultant StreetSmart whose idea of analysis seems solely devoted to analyzing square footage and miscounting the number if businesses on major streets like Cal Ave.

They could have learned from neighboring communities like Menlo Park and/or Los Altos and seen how their business people recruit people to their downtowns by sponsoring regular events like the Weds French Market in Menlo Park or the First Friday in Los Altos. And of course Redwood City has those Friday night concerts downtown that literally attract thousands.

But learning about other communities and/or encouraging Palo Alto businesses to take the same initiative would require imagination and awareness of what's happening locally, neither of which our consultants are known for.

Plus those events cost their cities nothing -- and that's not the Palo Alto way,


Gale Johnson
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2023 at 2:59 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2023 at 2:59 pm

I know this might sound a little crazy, but I think it would be great if city planners could think of ways to make California Avenue a destination place to visit, much like Solvang or Carmel...with an equivalent of the old downtown Liddicoats mixed in. An equivalent of Pike's Place in Seattle might work out as well...and yes, street entertainment like the groups that come to Farmers' Market on Sundays. We might borrow some ideas from Pier 39 also. Arcades, hat shops, magicians, jugglers, and mimes, to give it a carnival atmosphere/flavor. Cotton candy and popcorn balls will make it feel so real. And a history element could be added by bringing back saloon like bars, hitching racks to tie up horses, and a couple brothels, just to bring back the memories of old Mayfield, the fun town south of the prim and proper city called Palo Alto... a dry city. Palo Alto tried to maintain it's reputation as a sophisticated and culturally elite.vity. with a lot of pomp going on on University Avenue. Wealthy people ruled and controlled the area, starting with the Stanford family at the top. Not to be denied beer, however, Stanford students learned about a country saloon in San Mateo County...on Alpine Road...Rossoti's. They found it and I found it many years later. I promoted and led in organizing a Kaiser Electronics reunion there. We had a great turnout and great time outdoors while meeting and greeting former co-workers, and remembering and reminiscing about our working days when the company was located on the corner of Porter Drive and Page Mill Road.

I have a hunch all my great ideas won't go very far! But at least I tried!


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 14, 2023 at 4:29 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2023 at 4:29 pm

@Gale Johnson, not so crazy at all. Look at Los Altos' big Food Hall on State Street. It was always packed until they ran into management problems.


anon1234
Registered user
College Terrace
on Mar 15, 2023 at 8:32 am
anon1234, College Terrace
Registered user
on Mar 15, 2023 at 8:32 am

I agree with ALB regarding the former Bank of the west building !
Hope we can find a tenant who will respect its elegant mid century a design and restore it instead of destroying it!


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