Spring Real Estate 2002

Publication Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2002
What's new?
With construction everywhere, new homes are changing the face of neighborhoods

by Carol Blitzer

They're sprouting up on practically every block.

New single-family homes accounted for 107 major planning permits issued in Palo Alto in 2001, down just two from 2000. Menlo Park is building its share with 29 last year and 46 in 2000. And, that doesn't count the number of plans that were held up in the plan-checking phase or postponed by the homeowners until the economy improves.

What do they look like? The following are examples of what's going up in various neighborhoods:

City: Menlo Park (Felton Gables)
Designer/Builder: Colin Whiteside, CMS Custom Homes, Los Altos, (650) 326-7555
Size: 4,159 square feet plus garage
Cost: offered at $3,475,000
Features: Wired with CAT-5 throughout, as well as sound system extending to every room and outside; radiant heating in master bathroom floor; cherry-paneled library, butler's pantry, wine room, media/theater room; three levels with four or five bedrooms; high ceilings, lots of molding, sauna, in-law suite with separate entrance, back-up generator
Style: "We put in the steeply pitched roof to lower the eaves line so it would blend in with the surrounding houses. We also incorporated dormer windows for the same reason -- we didn't want big blank walls with windows, but roof lines that fit in with the neighborhood. We tried to keep it low key and not a big stucco 'monster house.' " -- Colin Whiteside, builder
Photo credit: Michael Smith

City: Menlo Park (Bay Laurel)
Architect: Bob Peterson, Robert Peterson Architects, 57 El Camino Real, Menlo Park; (650) 327-1161
Builder: Drew Maran Construction/Design, Palo Alto; (650) 323-8541
Cost: not available
Size: 3,420 square feet, including double garage
Special features: Three bedrooms, guest room, two bathrooms and powder room; two full studies; catwalk connects master bedroom and studies; radiant heat in 10 zones; ceilings open to underside of roof; very quiet; glass sunscreens and trellis to cool outdoor living spaces
Style:"There's no preconceived style but the design is the result of the client's lifestyle. The sun orientation maximizes outdoor sun areas and views. There are very few doors in the house, but interlocking spaces provide privacy with a very open plan. It's compatible with the neighborhood -- extremely quiet on the street. The exterior is made of integral color stucco, so it's very natural looking. Garage door is turned away, so all you see is the entry."-- Bob Peterson, architect
Photo credit: Michael Smith {need to re-shoot near March 5}

City: Portola Valley
Architect: Robert Swatt, FAIA, Swatt Architects, 5845 Doyle St., Suite 104, Emeryville, 94608; (510) 985-9779
Builder: Cowan & Gentry, Cowan & Gentry Construction, 1625 El Camino Real #5, Belmont, CA 94002 (650) 596-9160
Size: 4,400 square feet, including garage
Cost: not available
Special features: Large and beautiful open spaces with extensive window and skylight areas to maximize natural light and views. Richly varied materials include cast-in-place concrete frames and floor, mahogany floors, custom pre-cast concrete fireplace and redwood ceilings. Wired for high speed Internet access and built-in sound system throughout.
Style: "We wanted to create an informal family home that would take advantage of the beautiful views and natural landscape. We divided the house into two wings -- a private family and bedroom wing and a public living/dining pavilion, then organized the interior around a two-story spine. The giant, cantilevered pavilion roof is sculpted into the form of a large chevron." --Robert Swatt, architect
Photo credit: Richard Barnes

City: Palo Alto (Community Center)
Architect: Stephen Pogue Architect, 175 Avila St., San Francisco, 94123; (415) 441-2237
Developer: R & M Properties, Stephen Reller and Mark Moragne, 664 Gilman St., Palo Alto, 94301, (650) 328-0830
Size: about 5,000 square feet
Cost: recently offered at $3,985,000; sold for $4,175,000
Special features: Five bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms; network/phone/cable/speaker wiring throughout; large front porch; home theater with room for pool table in basement; laundry chute to laundry room
Style: "We always try to build something that fits into the neighborhood. The neighbors seemed to appreciate it. Part of that was making a house with an older feel to it, but with all the modern amenities." -- Steve Reller, developer
"It started out with R&M wanting something with a front porch. The other was to have a neighborhood-friendly design that helps to mediate the scale." -- Steve Pogue, architect
Photo credit: Michael Smith

City: Palo Alto (Midtown)
Architect: John Barton Architects, 43255 Mission Blvd., Fremont; (510) 623-9861
Builder: Jim Rhodeos, Southwall Construction, Inc., Palo Alto, (650) 324-9595
Cost: not available
Size: about 2,400 square feet living, 230 garage
Special features: Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, CAT-5 wiring, great room, granite counter tops, Jacuzzi tub, two sinks, island kitchen
Style: "Palo Alto is a unique town, not urban like San Francisco, or suburban like Woodside. People make hard choices when limited space is available; they could have a two-car garage and three bedrooms or a one-car garage and four bedrooms."
This is "kind of an eclectic style. It's more traditional. I can't say it's pushing the envelope for style but it feels comfortable with them (the owners). I think it's appropriate scale to the block. The daylight plane helps enforce that. It's a neighborhood in transition." -- John Barton, architect
Photo credit: Michael Smith

City: Palo Alto (Green Acres)
Architect: Steve Simpson, Simpson Design Group, 603 Jefferson Ave., Redwood City, CA 94063; (650) 366-9277
Owner/Builder: Karen Bageman, (650) 888-5048
Landscaper: Jesus Rodrigues Landscaping, (408) 595-6512
Cost: about $180/square foot
Size: 3,850 square feet (2,700 above ground, 1,150 below ground)
Special features: Five bedrooms, four baths, parlor, great room, home entertainment area, maple cabinets; U-shape design to accommodate an existing oak tree
Style: "We tried to create a more welcoming feeling toward the street in front, to create an architecture that could foster people talking and kids playing in front." -- Steve Simpson, architect
Photo credit: Michael Smith

E-mail Carol Blitzer at cblitzer@paweekly.com