College Terrace Centre to begin construction in spring | January 31, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 31, 2014

College Terrace Centre to begin construction in spring

Block-long development rises out of recession doldrums after 4 years

by Sue Dremann

The long-awaited redevelopment of the College Terrace Centre, which had trouble securing financing until recently, is slated to begin this spring, funder Canyon Capital Realty Advisors has announced.

The Palo Alto project, which encompasses the block fronting El Camino Real between College and Oxford avenues, will include 9,000 square feet of space for a new grocery store to replace the 60-year-old JJ&F Market, 45,000 square feet of office space, 7,000 square feet of other retail including an open-air market space and eight below-market-rate apartments.

The plan won City Council approval in December 2009 after months of public scrutiny, with residents rallying to keep the beloved JJ&F Market market while opposing dense development. But the center languished during the recession, and funding became difficult to secure, city officials said last year. To keep the project alive, the city granted developer Twenty-One Hundred Ventures an extension on its building permits.

But during that time, the grocery store, which gained new ownership in 2011, struggled to survive. The store, operated by the Khoury family, closed in September 2013, after its lease was up. Twenty-One Hundred Ventures did not offer them a lease in the new development, family members said.

Canyon Capital Realty Advisors has made the loan to construct the center, which will be a two- and three-story development with underground parking on 1.4 acres, one block from the Stanford University campus.

The separate residential building will have ample on-site parking, Canyon Capital executives said.

"College Terrace presents a unique opportunity for Canyon Realty to invest in one of the most coveted addresses in the Bay Area," Marti Page, director at Canyon Realty, said. "The development's proximity to Stanford University and the Stanford Research Park provides a dynamic environment for prospective retailers and office users."

Construction is slated to begin this spring and end in August 2015. Carrasco & Associates of Palo Alto are the architects.

"We ... are very excited about the retail and commercial opportunities that the completion of College Terrace (Centre) will bring to the area," developer Shawn-Patrick Smailey said.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at


Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 1, 2014 at 11:22 am

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Will believe it when I see it.

Posted by Unbeliever, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 1, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Maybe they had trouble getting financing because the project is a bad idea.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm


Will there be another grocery store?

Probably a coffee shop and a nail salon will be what ends up here.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 1, 2014 at 2:02 pm

As usual, in Palo Alto, this project was designed by committee. I remember the first renderings of it, displayed within the JJ&F market. There was supposed to be a public plaza out back, where shoppers could eat their deli sandwiches...that got replaced by welfare housing. There were several other iterations that left the market concept in doubt (with very little regard to the actual market for the potential market). It became a wish list of the various activist groups.

The block will get razed, and then something will get built. One benefit is that all those car campers were finally taken seriously by the powers that be...they are (mostly) out of there, now, thanks to the parking restrictions imposed by the CPA.

Posted by Berry, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 2, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Alright, we have good ol' affordable housing on the list, some office space, and a new store. There will be another stop light at that intersection now I bet. There will not be enough parking for AH tenants AND Offices AND a store. Our PA leaders are failing us. When do we take our city back?! STOP rezoning areas. Fix the parking in DTPA. Stop building more housing in an already overpopulated area.

Posted by resident , a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 2, 2014 at 10:48 pm

FYI for Berry and others not tuned in when this project was approved: This project includes 2 levels of underground parking, and dedicated parking for the affordable housing units.
Also no added traffic signal needed; the left turn in from El Camino works fine due to timing of the Stanford Ave and Cambridge Ave signals. Those needing to turn left onto El Camino at peak hours may need to go Staunton/Yale/Stanford Ave or Yale/Cambridge Ave, just like they do now. And the project is not expected to be a significant peak period traffic generator.

What the neighbors do need to pay attention to is making sure that the commitment to a quality, neighborhood serving grocery is maintained!

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm

This must mean the curb cut was granted; hope City Staff and Council will wait until after this development and the lane reduction on CA Ave are completed before approving anything more that will impact traffic between University Ave and Page Mill. That section of El Camino is already heavy and it could well get worse as drivers come to full stops for lights and slow down to allow cars in/out via curb cuts; more stop than go.

Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Staggering construction schedules is important and the city's construction management plan must also ensure that all demolition and constructional vehicles stay off residential streets for both the College Terrace Centre project and the forthcoming Mayfield El Camino housing deveopment (between Wells Fargo and BofA), which is may also get underway this year.

Anyone have a comment on the usual city allowance for excavation dewatering that permits thousand and thousands of gallons of water to literally go down the drains. College Terrace Centre will have a 2-level underground garage.

Posted by Appease CT, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Yes, god forbid college terrace should be inconvenienced in any manner. After all, their lives are just filled with unhappiness and misery, due to traffic, Stanford, car campers, parking and any other excuse they can use to propel them into martyrdom. ( What does the city plan to give them since their local, protected from competition grocery store (JJ&F) has shut down?
Don't worry, I am sure the CT big shots have a long list of " demands" from the city. And we know that when CT says " jump" the city asks " how high?"

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Feb 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

I really look forward to a new grocery store, though it's too bad the earlier JJ&F plans didn't work out, or something with the subsequent owners. Why do I have the feeling it might be awhile....

Posted by Berry, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Appease CT, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2014 at 7:37 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by ChrisC, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2014 at 12:11 am

ChrisC is a registered user.

I notice the article didn't mention the four or five years the centre development was held up in PA red tape. Jj&f needed the remodel to stay competitive. And for the uninformed person who said there was no competition..trader joe's was the final nail in the coffin. Jj&f might have been more like piazzas if they'd expanded before the financing tanked. Thank you Palo alto city government. Now we get to have all the noise and rubble with nothing for us waiting on the other end.

Posted by PC Wary, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 5, 2014 at 9:50 am

"Twenty-One Hundred Ventures did not offer them [the current grocery store owners] a lease in the new development..."

Wasn't a definite lease to a grocery operator supposed to be a precondition for the building permit? Has that permit been issued? Is there a lease? What is the penalty if the lease goes away after the permit is issued? None? Snookered again?

Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2014 at 11:18 am

Fred Balin is a registered user.

It still is a precondition.

No building permit can be issued prior to a signed lease, although demolition and excavation can proceed before that.

Below are the relevant parts of the "special limitations" section of the approved 1/11/10 PC ordinance. It is built on the wording for Alma Plaza and therefore includes some additional protections.

(1) A grocery store, with an area of at least 8,000 square feet, shall exist within the development for the useful life of the improvements.
(2) The grocery store shall be a neighborhood serving grocery store that provides all the typical grocery store products and services of a neighborhood serving store such that it shall not become a convenience mart facility.
(3) A signed lease for the grocery store, enforceable against the tenant and approved by the City Attorney, shall be submitted prior to issuance of any building permits on the site.
(4) The grocery tenant shall occupy and begin operations prior to any office tenant occupancy.
(6) The grocery tenant, if it is a party other than John Garcia (DBA JJ&&F), shall be subject to the prior approval of the City of Palo Alto and shall not be withheld unless the City reasonably finds that such proposed grocery tenant is not likely to be comparable in quality of products and service as JJ&F as it existed and operated on Decenlber 7,2009.
(7) The grocery store space shall remain in continuous operation as a grocery store. "Continuous" shall be defined to include brief closure for ordinary business purposes.
(12) Use of the outdoor market area as shown on the project plans as being 2,447 square feet shall be limited to an open air market for grocery related uses only.

Posted by PC Wary, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm

A typical PC enabling ordinance--no provisions for enforcement, no penalties for noncompliance. Like, what would the city do if the designated grocery store space mysteriously becomes offices when the the thing opens for business? At best, a minute of dutiful handwringing by some councilmembers.

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