The California Avenue building that for decades housed the beloved Antonio's Nut House bar would be partially demolished, reconstructed and furnished with a new dining pavilion under a plan recently submitted by the property owner.
Located at 321 California Ave., near Birch Street, the building has been vacant since the Nut House shuttered in August 2020 after nearly 50 years of serving beer, liquor and peanuts to an eclectic clientele.
The property owner has a new vision for the building that involves demolishing the 1969 concrete-block addition in the back of the building while creating a new dining area along Birch Street.
The building would retain restaurant use, though an operator has yet to be selected, according to the application that Ken Hayes, project architect, submitted on behalf of the property owner, Storm Land LLC.
The biggest changes to the structure would occur along Birch, with the building adding a second entrance to the outdoor dining pavilion, a portion of which would be covered with a roof, according to the renderings of the proposed remodel.
To honor the building's historic significance as an early drive-in Safeway grocery store, the consultant recommended retaining and restoring its original architectural features, including the awning, the storefront windows, the parapet walls and the decorative horizontal bands, as well as rehabilitating the side entrance that currently faces a parking lot.
— Gennady Sheyner
Developer hopes to bring 70 apartments downtown
Emboldened by a positive response from the Palo Alto City Council, a developer has filed a formal application to construct a four-story building with 70 apartments and ground-floor office space on University Avenue. Of the apartments, 20% would be rented out as affordable housing.
Smith Development has filed a formal application for 660 University Ave., a project that calls for consolidating three lots near the intersection of University and Middlefield Road and demolishing two single-story office buildings, including the present location of Palo Alto Dental. The dental practice plans to relocate to another location within the city.
The project is advancing under the council's "planned home" zoning process, which allows builders to exceed the city's development standards in exchange for providing housing. The process also gives the council greater discretion to accept or reject proposals.
In discussing the project during a "pre-screening" last October, most council members generally lauded the Smith plan for bringing housing to downtown, but suggested that the developer provide more apartments for low-income individuals.
In a nod to the council's feedback, Smith agreed to revise the income categories for the below-market-rate units in the development. Under the new plans, 14 of the 70 apartments would be designated as affordable housing. Of those, six would be designated for the "moderate" income category, four for the "low" income category and four for the "very low" income category.
The project will now have to go through Palo Alto's typical approval process, which will involve hearings in front of the Architectural Review Board, the Planning and Transportation Commission and the council.
— Gennady Sheyner