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History of Fry's site complicates city's redevelopment plans

Original post made on Jul 31, 2019

A Portage Avenue site that now houses Fry's Electronics has been deemed a historically significant property, which may delay proposals to redevelop the area eyed as a promising location for new housing.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 31, 2019, 9:48 AM

Comments (101)

32 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2019 at 10:15 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I like the way the savvy developers sold each other the 14 acre parcel while buying up family homes and then lobbying the city to spot zone 60 acres as high density.


21 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2019 at 10:19 am

Was the Chinese-American history of this neighborhood erased by white supremacy? The early 20th century was the height of the "Chinese Exclusion" period of American history when the Federal government tried to exterminate the Chinese-American population.


26 people like this
Posted by Nothing historic in PA
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 31, 2019 at 10:32 am

Old. Not historic. But naturally Holman got all excited. Of course in her mind everything in Palo alto is historic. Funny as she is now building a $60 million monstrosity to house the peninsula open space clique


15 people like this
Posted by leetaubeneck@gmail.com
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2019 at 10:35 am

The Monterey Aquarium retained an historic structure as an exhibit within its central atrium. My recollection is it is a cannery that previously served the nearby docks. At approximately 3,000 ft2, it provides a nice view of the past through a structure. Perhaps retaining some fraction of the overall Chew development would be appropriate.


59 people like this
Posted by Yes, save it!
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2019 at 10:45 am

Yes,save the building. Turn it into a community center and put a large park in the area. Palo Alto is more than 100 acres behind in park space and they keep adding more people and not park space.

This is a perfect opportunity to provide park space to an area that needs more and will allow more amenities for the community that is currently being swamped with overpopulation.

For our quality of life support park space and saving the building.


24 people like this
Posted by Judith Wasserman
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 31, 2019 at 10:59 am

Judith Wasserman is a registered user.

How about a bronze plaque?


20 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2019 at 11:05 am

Yeah, it is an old site and important, nostalgic history happened on it. But the building itself is not historic in any way.

Think about it: when you pay someone -- an external consulting firm -- serious money to commission a report like this, there is a very high likelihood that the report will come back this way: "hey, this is a very historic site and should be preserved".


8 people like this
Posted by Liz Gardner
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2019 at 11:22 am

"Real places are the ones that teach history, not recreated ones," Bajuk said.

What ever became of Palo Alto first low income housing tract "The Lawrence Tract"? This significant well fought for housing was built in 1947 and housed African Americans as well as displaced Japanese Americans after their hideous Internment - all attempting to regain a life after The War.

There is no plaque or honoring of this site no information anywhere. Nobody of any importance in Palo Alto now knows where this critically inclusive housing was located or that it even existed at all, post WWII. Its history, past and significance has been erased - swept away like the Nuevo rich would like to do to all that can't afford it here with the current sky rise of rents, homeless and RV's dwellers who park along El Camino Real to be near their low wage service jobs.

No. Palo Alto is too busy finding ways NOT build housing on perfectly suited sites to house normal wage earning families, the poor or its disenfranchised long time residents to "remember" the Lawrence housing tract. Ironic to today, it was named for a Stanford African American professor. A well known German Immigrant and friend of the Jewish - Gerta Isenberg was a massive reason this first ever, original Palo Alto low-income, inclusive and equitable housing was ever erected in the first place. In order to move toward the future, let's not forget those who came before us to house people over profits.


17 people like this
Posted by Capitalism
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 31, 2019 at 12:52 pm

Capitalism is a registered user.

"Palo Alto is too busy finding ways NOT build housing on perfectly suited sites to house normal wage earning families, the poor or its disenfranchised long time residents"

That's because developers build housing and they have been very astute, along with, "their" representatives on the city council, Planning and Transportation Committee, and on the recent Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, including management in city hall, at stacking and manipulating the system to prioritize highly profitable office construction and high end housing, especially attractive to foreign investors, over lower cost housing. They claim "it doesn't pencil out" unless they can build offices or high end residential.

This may be the case if the land has to be acquired. However, there are quite a few individuals and families with real estate companies who inherited or acquired large amounts of Palo Alto real many many estate decades ago, in some cases over several generations, who do not have the cost of the land. However, why should we expect them to settle for less or minimal profit if the land is zoned to allow a higher level of profit?


8 people like this
Posted by Capitalism
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Capitalism is a registered user.

Further, even if Palo Alto had a zoning restriction for construction of "affordable" housing, is it likely that land owners and/or developers will then build more affordable housing? Or is the reality that they will simply take their take their investment dollars and put them elsewhere where a higher level of profit is possible?


3 people like this
Posted by Housing is a human right
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:08 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Fry's
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:16 pm

Well, when they clean it out it'll be easy. Fry's never has anything on the shelf.


30 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:18 pm

You've got to be kidding me.

Are we going to tag Facebook's old HQ on S. California while we're at it? It has made a much bigger impact on the world than the Asparagus King apparently did.

Old does not mean historic.

Also, if you check out Page & Turnbull's website, their expertise is architecture and design for historical properties. How convenient to recommend that a building is historic. Smells like business development to me.


4 people like this
Posted by 100 Acre or 100 Years?
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:33 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


8 people like this
Posted by The Facebook's Building is tagged
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:34 pm

The Facebook's Building is tagged is a registered user.

Actually, funny you should mention it. I noticed, as I was walking downtown two nights ago, that there is a building with a bronze tag downtown, marking it as the original home of the "The Facebook".

We have many similar tags for other companies around town. The site may be historically significant, but is the existing building still in a state that makes it historically significant?


14 people like this
Posted by Terrace Antelope
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Yes, that Cannery adds such flavor to our local history - NOT!


22 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:50 pm

While the building may no longer be interesting to the city, the history of the neighborhood certainly is. How about remembering the history when designing a new neighborhood for this area? Name the new streets and parks and schools after the Chinese-American businesses and community leaders that once thrived here. Build the Asian grocery store that residents have desired and the city has lacked for so many years. Invite other Asian-oriented retail businesses (restaurants, etc) to locate here. There are already many Asian-American small businesses nearby on El Camino Real, so there certainly is customer demand for businesses like this.


6 people like this
Posted by The Facebook's Building is tagged
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:50 pm

The Facebook's Building is tagged is a registered user.

BTW...I do not dispute the historical significance of the former use of this site. Palo Alto was orchards and fields before the emergence of Stanford and Silicon Valley. This was an rich agricultural community and it is significant that an immigrant developed such an important business in the area--especially given what was going on in the world at that time. He was an early entrepreneur in the face of great discrimination.

Let's not dismiss this argument. Let's think about how we preserve and celebrate the significance of that history as we think about the future of this Palo Alto neighborhood. That doesn't necessarily require preservation of the buildings. How about a statue comemorating the historic figure who created the business? How about centering new buildings around a small community center designed to highlight the story? A plaque is somewhat dismissive--and easy to miss (I have walked by The Facebook plaque a thousand times before last week without noticing it), but a statue in a place that celebrates the history might be a nice addition to a shady seating area that abuts a park, coffee shop or restaurants to serve the new homes and businesses.

How can we preserve the important story of this site in a way that enhances the neighborhood? How can we make space in our community for new residents and preserve the rich history of this particular area?


20 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:53 pm

[Portion removed.]

As long as new office space development takes place, the city will never catch up in housing. "anti development" ? There is a distinction between housing and office space development. You can count me 100% in the anti-office-space-development camp. This struggle has been on-again off-again since 1961, BTW. Web Link

[Portion removed.]

Please build your office space somewhere else. We don't need any more here. Please don't fall for the mixed-use - -ploy-. If they are putting people in 40-80 square feet cubicles, and, people need their 300-400 square feet per person of housing to live in, then a modest fraction of office space makes it a loser. -No more office space.-


14 people like this
Posted by Myrtle the Turtle
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 31, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Bring back Maximart! :-)


7 people like this
Posted by WH Smith
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2019 at 3:03 pm

WH Smith is a registered user.

I agree with the idea that the building with the original footprint be brought up to seismic and building code standards with an open floor plan and used as the Sebastopol, The Barlow, idea with outdoor and indoor shopping and farmer's market. And then design housing around the site that provides Palo Alto and this neighborhood with something of interest and a pleasant neighborhood to live in. Low income housing please. History and past uses that provide a glimpse into what was the landscape here then and a way to bring that into the present and the future.


8 people like this
Posted by Pamom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2019 at 5:25 pm

I remember going to Maximart as a little girl! Surprised the article didn’t mention that department store. Also surprised there’s no mention of what would happen to Fry’s, and that there’s no mention of anyone in this tech driven town who would miss it. I had no idea the site used to be a cannery. I’m nolstagic and hope the site will be preserved.


15 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2019 at 5:53 pm

Good, Save the Old Cannery site, Do Not allow over development.
Lets keep some character in the City and don't allow the Developers to decide.


5 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2019 at 7:34 pm

"Also surprised there’s no mention of what would happen to Fry’s, and that there’s no mention of anyone in this tech driven town who would miss it."

If you're really tech-driven, you stopped going to Fry's years ago.

"I had no idea the site used to be a cannery. I’m nolstagic and hope the site will be preserved."

!?!!?

How can you be nostalgic for something you didn't previously know existed?!


15 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2019 at 7:44 pm

We can't preserve everything, and that Fry's building is not a historical asset. Let it go and move forward.


9 people like this
Posted by Garry
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2019 at 7:52 pm

By all means a plaque. Maybe a modest interpretive display. But there’s nothing about this building worth preserving


8 people like this
Posted by College terraces 2000
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2019 at 10:46 pm

@nothing in PA is historical
For someone like you, nothing in the world is not on sell for money, ifCYXtoyou can be profited.


11 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 1, 2019 at 6:10 am

mauricio is a registered user.

It's interesting that not even of the posters whining about the 'city's invisible gate' and 'housing development deficits' has anything bad to say about office development.


14 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 1, 2019 at 7:31 am

It may come as a shock to self-absorbed techies, but Palo Alto existed long before Facebook ever came to town, and will exist long after the tech industry leaves town. The Fry's building is absolutely a historic site with its wild west theme. It should be preserved, or used as a community center with a surrounding park. There is not enough park space in that part of town.


13 people like this
Posted by ResidentOPA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 9:46 am

ResidentOPA is a registered user.

Work with the developer(s) to incorporate "Cannery" in the overall name of the project. Dedicate a central gathering place as "Thomas Foon Chew Plaza," post one or more commemorative plaques, remove the building and get the project moving!


9 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2019 at 9:48 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

It is certainly an, uh, "interesting" building. My husband used to enjoy shopping at Fry's. He said that the customer service has been bad for a while now and the stock is now quite limited. He used to love going to the store -- even when he didn't have anything he needed. Still, he is disappointed that it will eventually close.


9 people like this
Posted by 5th Generation
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 1, 2019 at 10:12 am

As I had long suspected, the former Mayor confirmed that the City had not even considered keeping the building, all of the plans on the table revolve around demolition and the construction of high density housing. Which I think is ridiculous. It strikes me as a little suspicious that they are now "surprised" by the history of the building. No one ever asked about it? Isn't that an important consideration? Have they not been at this long enough to know that some residents are interested in our city's history and in preserving historical resources?

So, now it's complicating their plans? I think that is good news!


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 1, 2019 at 10:12 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

So now there is this giant competition between the state who says we have to have X-amount of housing of every type but then qualifies where and how that will happen. Sounds like a lot of maneuvering going on here. Reality says that the requirement for housing of every type should trump keeping a bunch of run down buildings alive. I am sure that clever maneuvering could result in a location next to ECR which could provide up to 4 tower buildings that each satisfies a requirement for the state. If you look at San Jose their current on track tear down and development should provide the guidelines of legal ability to overcome any challenges to housing development.
I have visited the Fry's site and see no redeeming qualification to back-off on putting the cities' requirements first for housing at this site.


14 people like this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 1, 2019 at 12:29 pm

It is truly distressing to see how many people on this forum don't want to preserve this important piece of Chinese history in Palo Alto.

It's appalling to think about hundreds of condominiums being built in that huge area;stuffing in more people into this City. That's already bursting at the seams.

Palo Alto Forward may come off as a very cheery, positive Palo Alto organization but it very much is not.

Palo Alto was once very special because of the financial diversity and the creative flair of many of its residents. This city had history and a very colorful thriving social scene.

Now, this has become a one horse town that represents obscene amounts of money and has very little interest in preserving all of the things that once made Palo Alto one of the best places in the country to live.

Chinese residents of Palo Alto, you should be offended that they would tear down this piece of Chinese history in the Bay area and obliterate it like they've done with so many other contributions around the Bay.

If you care about Palo Alto and wish for it to retain some of the features that made it once a fantastic place to live, please sign the attached petition. Within the petition is a full history of the cannery and some excellent ideas for how the preservation of the cannery could serve the community.

Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:02 pm

"If you ask me", I would like to see around 500 medium-to-large moderately priced units, plus, expanded park space at Boulware and/or an additional park, on that property. And -zero- office space. Null. Nil. Naught. Nought. Sifr. нуль

IOW, all housing. No office space. Will that happen? I have faith that our developers will make sure that however many units are added, at least that many office jobs will be added. They talk about "housing" but what they actually do is increase office space. Please, prove me wrong for once.


5 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:13 pm

[Portion removed.] I would think Chinese would rather have a display in the Palo Alto History Museum rather being remember by a dump of a building. There are much more important things to preserve.


2 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:29 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 1, 2019 at 5:48 pm

All this new housing will only accommodate a hand full of residents of Palo Alto and the children who grew up in town, the rest will be bought up by non-US citizens?

Why do we have to provide housing for the world?

Developers, business owners, and the Pro-Growth City council members are exploiting the people who reside here now.


10 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 9:43 pm

In the 50's and 60's my parents thought that area was run down and dumpy.
Maximart was a store full of cheap junk.
It was nothing to boast about or be remembered for.
I haven't seen much (if any) improvement on that parcel over the past 5 decades.

Whatever you build, please don't make it too tall and dense.
Just make the parcel look clean, open, and pretty - Not a mirror of San Antonio.

Perhaps this redevelopment will have a domino effect on the properties on El Camino, who are sorely in need of being cleaned up too.




3 people like this
Posted by Delay is the key
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 2, 2019 at 10:13 am

My guess is the NIMBYs and the pasz clique will use the same game plan they used to prevent development of Alma plaza for almost a decade - - make false claims about traffic, form a friends group to stall, then form a new group and protest some more.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2019 at 11:10 am

Posted by BP, a resident of Barron Park

>> using will only accommodate a hand full of residents of Palo Alto and the children who grew up in town,

I don't think a modest 500 units within a 4-story 50-foot height limit will be that noticeable a short distance away. I would prefer it to the old cannery buildings that are now a fading Fry's and -- offices.

The main thing is that the existing office space be removed and replaced by housing. That will reduce traffic.

>> the rest will be bought up by non-US citizens?

Good point. Is there any way to legally require that the units be occupied, at least at first? I would hate to see a bunch of empty condos that some invisible owners purchase as an investment.

I would also be happy to see some kind of small outdoor-park-monument to the various previous site occupants, from Native Americans, Spanish ranching, the Cannery, MaxiMart (sp?) and -- Fry's -- soon to be only a memory at the site. I don't see that the building itself has that much to offer and the cannery elements are long gone. I never saw it in the cannery phase, but, back in the previous millennium, workers from the food/spice operation on Park would sometimes walk down to the South-Palo-Alto-Neighborhood/Boulware Park for lunch. That plant disappeared without a trace, sigh, speaking of "history". Anybody remember more details about it?


7 people like this
Posted by me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 11:58 am

"I would also be happy to see some kind of small outdoor-park-monument to the various previous site occupants, from Native Americans, Spanish ranching, the Cannery, MaxiMart (sp?) and -- Fry's -- soon to be only a memory at the site. "

I look forward to the monument to Grocery Outlet that Palo Altans in 2060 will dedicate when they eventually replace Alma Plaza.


6 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Maximart. Blast from the past. They had a great selection of snub nose 38’s and other Saturday Night Specials. The original discount store before Bazar on Showers Dr in Mt View. Tear those old wooden warehouses down. Fire hazard. Anyone else remember the spectacular Tannery Fire in Redwood City? There is no historical significance. There are other ways to celebrate Mr Chew and Palo Alto history.


8 people like this
Posted by A Moral Compass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 2, 2019 at 1:53 pm

A Moral Compass is a registered user.

> Maximart was a store full of cheap junk.

^^^ Perhaps with one exception...the photo department was leased to an outside vendor & it stocked high-quality darkroom equipment/accessories + a noteworthy inventory of professional film (circa late 1960s-early 1970s).

Outside of that, you are correct in your reflective assessment.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 2, 2019 at 4:48 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Many hotels in Hawaii which replaced sugar mills and pineapple processing have great historic pictures in their lobbies and community areas of the activities that took place on those very same sites. They have captured the history of the site but are making good use of the site in present day time. Reading the article the historic footprint was lost in 1949. I do not go into fry's today and feel anything but a cheap building that is going to fall down in a minor earthquake.
Are there any pictures that would provide a good history lesson. If you want to argue about a building then that is not going to fly. The history is in the pictures. Are there any?
As a side note the Baltimore wharfs were the second biggest port on the east coast for bananas, sugar cane, coffee, etc. All of those wharfs have been converted to commercial use for today products. Land is a valuable resource and has to be put to good use in a tasteful manner.


9 people like this
Posted by HonestDave
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 2, 2019 at 8:24 pm

Is this really what pro-growth proponents consider to be a strong argument? Complaining about the quality of Maximart shelf items (seriously?) and conjuring images of a building on the verge of collapse (which has no basis in reality)? This building is in incredible shape, belying it's actual age. Go inside, take a walk around, it's a beautiful industrial building with wood-truss ceilings and rows upon rows of elegant bowstring trusses.

I invite those who say it's unsafe and on the verge of collapse from a minor quake, to prove it. Perhaps you can take photographs illustrating the deteriorating sections of the structure or provide a documentation from when it failed a State of California or City of Palo Alto safety inspection?

I'll be waiting (forever, I bet).


4 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 11:21 pm

We've been debating this proposed housing site for at least 20 years -
My children are now finishing up college, and a few of the original council members have passed away - like Gary F.
Then we had a series of public input meetings over the years, and still no progress.
Can't we just hurry this up please?
This area is rotting, and needs to be improved in some way.
It is rotting.
This has evolved into another Edgewood Plaza fiasco.



13 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 3, 2019 at 7:15 am

Seems like a fantastic opportunity to turn that whole area into something amazing and a true destination and asset to the city even beyond what Santana Row in to San Jose. I would rather see vibrant mixed retail and restaurants and housing and arts there instead of just more office space. Such and opportunity to create a dynamic amazing asset for our city.

Fry's is disgusting and has been for years. You feel dirty as soon as you walk into the store; they make their customers feel like criminals with their horrible customer service and awful returns policy. That building and the Fry's legacy is about the last thing I want to preserve.

That whole area around frys is just so ripe for thoughtful planned redevelopment. I would love to see it turned into something amazing and a destination even better Santana Row with some serious vision. I worry the preservationists and nimbys will block this opportunity for progress...


8 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2019 at 9:38 am

Off course the two buildings deemed historic can and should be saved and repurposed. To claim that is undo-able is absurd! The cannery building has been repulsed and used since the Cannery went out of business as office and retail. The dormitory building at the corner of the site ( which is in pristine historic condition) has been used as office.

So voila, repurposed and reused for decades already!!!! lets continue with whatever interior use the property owner wants in exchange for preserving our heritage!

BTW - preservation of historic resources is and was always expected as part of the environmental review; not at all surprise to the city staff, property owner or many residents.


14 people like this
Posted by A Moral Compass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 3, 2019 at 1:35 pm

A Moral Compass is a registered user.

The decision to preserve older buildings should be based on a number of qualifying factors including original design aesthetics, building safety (including seismic retrofit considerations/expenses), remodeling costs & practical usage applications.

A building being old doesn't always warrant preservation measures.

The Fry's building is a former industrial site & nothing spectacular despite its previous history as a pre-war cannery, Maximart & Fry's Electronics.




10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Posted by Dan a resident of Professorville

>> Seems like a fantastic opportunity to turn that whole area into something amazing and a true destination and asset to the city even beyond what Santana Row in to San Jose. I would rather see vibrant mixed retail and restaurants and housing and arts there instead of just more office space. Such and opportunity to create a dynamic amazing asset for our city.

What you describe sounds like massive traffic through the Ventura neighborhood. "Mixed use" is always a subterfuge to build more office space. Let's see "housing" advocates can actually deliver something that actually is "housing" and not more office space.


10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2019 at 4:28 pm

Let's use this opportunity to preserve the ever-dwindling fraction of our history and cultural heritage that remains. Let's act like a proper university town and show more than pretensions to intellect. There is more than plenty of room for housing in grossly underdeveloped places like Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills ...


14 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2019 at 4:32 pm

"My guess is the NIMBYs and the pasz clique will use the same game plan they used to prevent development of Alma plaza for almost a decade"

Another developer shill here.

Alma Plaza was delayed by developer McNellis Properties and its refusal to comply with city conditions for redeveloping the property. Eventually the city caved and McNellis built the ugly monstrosity it wanted.


Like this comment
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2019 at 12:19 pm

I've lived here since 1990 and redeveloping the area was being talked about when I moved here. I have a couple of troubling questions:

Did no one think to investigate any historical issues back in the 1980s? Or was this kept in someone's back pocket as a why to stifle development?

Has anyone asked Fry's and the other businesses whether they have any intention of moving away?

Who owns all the property? I'm assuming it is all privately owned, Is the city planning on seizing the property by eminent domain? Otherwise what is the plan to get all the property owners on board to give up their property for someone else's vision?

Can I start a plan on how I'd like to see areas north of Embarcadero redeveloped and then tell the property owners that they have to give up their property for my vision? I'm sure I can get a couple of dozen residents to go along with plans to change areas north of Embarcadero and show up to a city clowncil meeting.

/marc


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 4, 2019 at 7:22 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

More articles in the papers about organizations that go out and sue cities for not creating new housing, new buildings. They are currently suing Los Altos because the city council did not vote for a development of mixed use. Palo Alto has a requirement to add more housing and taking single family houses is going to be open to law suits.
You can't dictate eminent domain in single family neighborhoods when you have a obvious location to meet all of the city requirements in one location. And assigning heritage laws to this site is ridiculous. The building are about to fall down and they are in the prime location as to meeting the close to travel sites requirements.
Like hotels in Hawaii you can have pictures of past history in the entry ways. That satisfies the requirement for producing history for the site. Pictures are better than old buildings.
I like the question above - who owns this property? Put the most important part in the story to see if the owner is open to redevelopment of this site.

As a side note housing at Cubberely was suggested to satisfy a requirement from the state. Gutting the educational system is not a choice - there is no logic to it. However gutting old buildings is the obvious choice.

So the city is in a fix here - it has to meet a requirement and is fishing for locations in which to do that. Boxing choices with legal requirements is not going to fly here. If there is any eminent domain it will occur at a site like Fry's which has more minuses than plusses. Do not tax the people of the city to fix it up or apply any budget for that action. Figure out and publish who owns this and what they are up to concerning this property. They own it and the tax value is minimal due to the age of the property.


9 people like this
Posted by grew up here
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2019 at 8:06 pm

Loved reading the article about the history of the Thomas Foon Chew cannery. I grew up and still live in Palo Alto and knew nothing about it. Wonderful story. Thanks for printing it. It would great to see the story preserved along with many of the interesting stories of Palo Alto. I do read plaques on rocks and walls, etc. as I walk by. That said, keeping a building that "does not retain enough integrity to be significant for its association with Thomas Foon Chew" while not allowing for more desperately needed housing seems a poor tradeoff.


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Posted by cresent park resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2019 at 10:54 am

and this is exactly why we have a housing shortage. That site is perfect for high density housing which, Palo Alto is dramatically short of. While the use may be historic, there is nothing historic about the building. A plaque or small park commemorating the historic use would be more than adequate in my opinion.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Posted by cresent park resident, a resident of Crescent Park

>> and this is exactly why we have a housing shortage.

Actually, it isn't. We have a housing shortage because of overdevelopment of office space. Why do companies do that? They've told us all, we just refuse to listen and understand. Companies like the giant labor pool of engineers/programmers. It works for them. It just doesn't work for people who have "lives"; i.e. families, outside interests, people who take their kids to school, who play in the parks, and who walk in the woods.

Nevertheless, I think it is a good site for housing. As long as no office space is built as part of some phony "mixed use" development.

>> That site is perfect for high density housing which, Palo Alto is dramatically short of. While the use may be historic, there is nothing historic about the building. A plaque or small park commemorating the historic use would be more than adequate in my opinion.

I agree with this part of your post.


18 people like this
Posted by A Moral Compass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 5, 2019 at 2:49 pm

A Moral Compass is a registered user.

Then again, the building could always be re-opened/re-established as a cannery or food preparation site.

This would provide viable employment opportunities for workers of a specific wage scale zone & with union engagement, these wages could actually be quite decent.

It would also be in keeping with the building's historical past and possibly reduce the necessity of importing certain types of food products.

Depending upon production requirements, there might even be an opportunity for three full shifts.

We've already got enough offices & high-tech businesses around here.

Perhaps time to take a step back & keep things simple.


8 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2019 at 4:20 pm

@A Moral Compass .

I think this a wonderful idea, glad you brought this up and are willing to create a new business to explore the idea.

Please share your plans to purchase the property, where you are getting your funding from and the business plan as to what markets you are addressing that will create the businesses that will successfully operate the property.

Let me know how you plan accomodate the increase in truck traffic without annoying the neighbors, especially when you have multiple shifts per day. Also how a you will deal with waste and oders from food preparation.

/marc


13 people like this
Posted by If you recall
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 5, 2019 at 4:31 pm

Monterey Bay Aquarium was a Cannery.
California is/was the Food State of the West.

You just have to get the Chinese Tong Mafia Family on board and you can make the location whatever your dreams desire.

There are so many mafia options to choose from in the Bay Area; so many are in Venture Capitalism. Then of course you have all those Saudi Family members living in Atherton, just ask away.


9 people like this
Posted by Great for Asian Seniors
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 5, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Fry's is the number one place for Chinese grandmothers to go in Palo Alto, please do not demolish it. Thank You, Kindly.


6 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2019 at 4:49 pm

How many local workers or tech workers call Alma Plaza or the mixed use development on Park Ave their home? Or San Antonio for that matter. Did any of these dense developments actually help with our housing issues?
You all know what is going to happen with any new high density housing that gets built.
Normal people who work in this area won't be able to outbid a buyer who is part of a consortium, or an all cash buyer who wants to launder their money through our real estate market. Just saying, this has become a global problem for all college towns - not just the Palo Alto Stanford area.


3 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2019 at 6:51 pm

@Long Time Resident

Let's set up a property control board that manages the sales of ALL property in Palo Alto. Whenever someone wants to sell any property, buyers will have to submit proposals to be reviewed by this agency.

The agency will have specific criteria in picking the selected buyer and price will NOT be a factor. The agency can enforce diversity (economic, social, ethnic, occupation) as the major factor in the selection criteria. We will have "managed" neighborhoods.

So the next huge home in north Palo Alto could be sold for $250,000 to a food service working in a Palo Alto business.

/marc



/marc


3 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2019 at 7:51 pm

"Normal people who work in this area won't be able to outbid a buyer who is part of a consortium, or an all cash buyer who wants to launder their money through our real estate market."

Who gets to define "normal?" That's a slippery slope.


2 people like this
Posted by Alejandro
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2019 at 9:28 pm

Perfect place for Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. to continue their expansion plans paired with these ignorant developers and their “affordable housing”:

The Moon

Who’s with me?


4 people like this
Posted by HonestDave
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 5, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Now we've gone from the building being on the verge of collapse if someone dare sneeze around it, to "The area is rotting?" Seriously? Exactly how is it rotting? I'd like some photo evidence of buildings rotting away. Show us termite damage gone unchecked (there is none). Show us open holes in roofs and open sewers festering (you won't find any).

Some people have wild imaginations, I'll give them that!


8 people like this
Posted by Jason Moy
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 6, 2019 at 1:50 am

STOP building housing in Palo Alto. All the new housing looks cheap and ugly and blocks the views of the foothills and makes traffic horrible. Nobody wants to say it, but it's true.


5 people like this
Posted by New Yorker
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2019 at 4:46 am

How is this even debatable? When you are facing a housing crisis, Palo Alto's first response is to treat any building as part of some "historical landmark" facade. Can you simply add it to the history books or make a bronze plate, and move on with development? I would be happy to donate the plaque commemorating such important and historically pivotal landmark: a cannery.

With this small-town mentality, Palo Alto would not have been the epicenter of Silicon Valley. There are countless ways to manage the impacts of new development and reduce negative externalities, while also allowing new housing to be developed.


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Posted by A Moral Compass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 6, 2019 at 12:08 pm

A Moral Compass is a registered user.

> Please share your plans to purchase the property, where you are getting your funding from and the business plan...

^^^ That decision is for the corporate buyers to establish. We still live in the age of mergers & acquisitions. I would consider purchasing stock in the company if it had a feasible business plan.


> ...as to what markets you are addressing that will create the businesses that will successfully operate the property.

^^^ Domestic & international markets. Time to reduce canned imports of basic food items from Asia & south of the border. Freshness & local sourcing counts...even if packaged.


> Let me know how you plan accomodate the increase in truck traffic without annoying the neighbors, especially when you have multiple shifts per day.

^^^ The truck traffic comes with the territory as it has in the past. If the area is zoned commercial/residential (or both), the residents will have to adjust/accept to the conditions or raise their concerns with the PA City Council.


> Also how a you will deal with waste and odors from food preparation.

Again. It comes with the territory...depending on the zoning.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Posted by New Yorker, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> How is this even debatable? When you are facing a housing crisis, Palo Alto's

Palo Alto is not facing a "housing crisis". It is facing a job-surplus crisis created by companies who want access to a giant flexible engineering/programming labor pool. That labor pool is why they "have to" locate here. These large companies need to move a bunch of jobs to San Joaquin and Modesto counties where a bunch of their employees already live and commute from. Fix the commuter rail from there (ACE is a start) so that people can get to meetings over here without driving. Voila' -- no "housing crisis".

>> With this small-town mentality, Palo Alto would not have been the epicenter of Silicon Valley. There are countless ways to manage the impacts of new development and reduce negative externalities, while also allowing new housing to be developed.

You must be another of those "noise == vibrancy" people. I happened to be living here in a different, Midtown, location in the early 80's when a friend came to visit and told me that it was "too quiet". Think back to the stuff being invented and developed right then. Strangely enough, engineers and programmers are more productive in quiet surroundings.


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Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 6, 2019 at 3:44 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

The most important and cutting age inventions happened when Palo Alto was a very quiet small college town. The noisier and denser it became, the more the innovations deteriorated into how to best monetize user data and make clicking on ads less resistible. Most of the "innovation" now is about run away consummerism.

The housing crisis is no crisis at all. The creators of the gross job surplus are waiting for the tax payers to house the employees they keep bringing in in total disregard to land availability, infrastructure capacity, environmental and quality of life concerns, instead of doing the proper and moral thing, which is to relocate to areas that actually need and want these jobs.


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Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2019 at 4:50 pm

"All the new housing looks cheap and ugly"

Eichlers were the 50s equivalent of tract housing, BTW.

"The most important and cutting age inventions happened when Palo Alto was a very quiet small college town. The noisier and denser it became, the more the innovations deteriorated into how to best monetize user data and make clicking on ads less resistible."

Correlation != causation.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 6, 2019 at 5:01 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

More local cities being sued for not following through on development. That includes the state - Gavin Nutsum suing the city of Huntington Beach. I used to work down there - it was fields until McDonald Douglas moved onto Bolsa Chica Road from their previous site at what is now the Santa Monica Airport. Building houses and shopping centers soon followed. But then came the stoppage of the space program and that was the end of that story. That facility was sold to Boeing. Similar tragedies happened in Florida in the area of Cape Canaveral - whole towns decimated by the stoppage of the space programs. Whole towns that look like nothing has happened there for decades. So if you are being sued as a city then how do you get the money for new buildings? Does the money fall out of trees? There seems to be a whole lack of brain power associated with the suing of cities which then prohibits them from having the available funding for building projects. And cities do not build - building companies build. How did we let these people loose in this state? It is run by crazy people.


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Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 7, 2019 at 8:24 am

Green Gables is a registered user.

All that area where Fry’s is was meant to be housing in the 90’s. That was the City of Palo Alto’s plan. Wonder what happened to that plan.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 7, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

My guess is that they are trying to maneuver other locations with some threat. If they say they can't build at FRY's then they can target single family homes or the school system. I view this as a ploy. If they build on Fry's then they have the ability to satisfy the requirements posed on the city by the state. But it is obvious that Fry's is the logical place to build. It sounds like a poker hand with a bunch of players trying to game development mandated by the state.


5 people like this
Posted by Long memory
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 7, 2019 at 5:01 pm

”All that area where Fry’s is was meant to be housing in the 90’s. “

As I recall, it was “promised” as housing. I wondered at the time what a promise by city council was worth.

I’ve long since learned!


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2019 at 10:21 am

Posted by Long memory, a resident of Ventura

>> As I recall, it was “promised” as housing. I wondered at the time what a promise by city council was worth.

"Promise her anything, but give her -a cube-"? Sorry, couldn't come up with a synonym for "office space" that flows like the original.


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Posted by Socialistic Capitalism
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 8, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Since the building has roots in its Chinese heritage, maybe some of the wealthier Palo Altans from overseas (aka China) can pool their financial resources & create a manufacturing site for low-wage workers like they do in China.

It would be a viable way to reduce shipping costs & Trump-instigated tariffs on imported goods from China.


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Posted by Ventura Welcomes Manufacturing!
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 8, 2019 at 3:32 pm

^^^Very cool. Apple products could made in Palo Alto & sent directly to the University Avenue store.

Maybe even have will-call/pick-up options at the Ventura factory as well.

The only issue is would the local manufacturers from overseas be willing to pay their assembly line workers more than 40 cents an hour & would Apple customers be willing to pay more for their products due to (and out of) humanitarian beliefs/sentiments?



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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 9, 2019 at 8:36 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Manufacturing as a business has many state and federal requirements that make it very expensive to accomplish in a limited location. Can we please work on priorities here? That is meeting the requirements of the state to provide housing at all levels. Every city around us is getting letters of threat. Has PA got a letter yet? Disclosure of how we stack up needs to be disclosed. It is not a trick question.

So all of the factions are gaming the situation? Trying to force the hand of one group with no disclosure of the other choices that are sitting in everyone's face?
This is the cities opportunity to respond to any outside pressure. We have major corporations right now canoodling new space for their buildings. I think we have done our part and now it is time we do our part. That is the city itself - not some corporation taking over. And if a corporation did take over then that would increase our housing requirement.


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Posted by 5th Generation
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 10, 2019 at 11:02 am

There is important history left out of the Historical Review, here's just one item they missed:

According to the Barron Park Historical Association this cannery was the FIRST INDUSTRIAL BUILDING built in the Mayfield/Palo Alto area and it was the largest employer in Palo Alto up until at least 1949 - you know - when Silicon Valley was just getting off the ground.

Web Link


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Posted by On The Cheap
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 10, 2019 at 11:40 am

> Manufacturing as a business has many state and federal requirements that make it very expensive to accomplish in a limited location. Can we please work on priorities here?

By bringing in H1-B manufacturing workers from overseas at minimum wage (which most Californians will not accept), manufacturing could accomplished in Ventura along with dormitories on the premises to house the workers.

Cost-effective housing for low-wage workers solved & this might even encourage some Palo Altans to work alongside their prospective co-workers from China just for the housing benefits.

This endeavor would also reduce tariffs on some imported items from China & ease the tensions between POTUS/45 & the People's republic of China over commerce issues.

Palo Alto is already 40% Chinese in population...another 5-10% won't change things for better or worse. If anything, the evolving demographics will serve as a tribute to ethnic diversity which is what Palo Alto citizens seem to hold dear to their hearts...at least when it comes to choosing restaurants.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2019 at 11:40 am

Posted by 5th Generation, a resident of Mayfield

>> this cannery was the FIRST INDUSTRIAL BUILDING built in the Mayfield/Palo Alto area and it was the largest employer in Palo Alto up until at least 1949 - you know - when Silicon Valley was just getting off the ground.

More useful in its day than all these cell phone app developers running around today. But, beside the point. The building itself is quite unremarkable and outdated. I'm OK with turning it into housing, as long as it is 100% housing. Housing will result in less traffic than the current use generates. But, if they make it a mixed-use site, a small amount of office space will negate the benefit of the housing, jobs/housing-wise and traffic-wise.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 11, 2019 at 10:16 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

On the Cheap - we have been debating how to house our teachers, firefighters, police, city workers, utility workers for ages now. And old people who need a cheaper place to end up. And you now think up a dormitory for H1B workers in a factory. You have side stepped all of the US citizens who are working in our community performing service jobs which are not high end. Are you somehow an owner of said location who is paying minimal property taxes? Don't laugh at that - the Car Doctors on San Antonio own their property and have minimal taxes and make no bones about it. Build your hotels - they don't care.
Palo Alto is not in the cannery business, nor are any of the other growers who had facilities in this area. they have moved out to the less inhabited regions where the growing is taking place. But you already know that.


8 people like this
Posted by Ventura Welcomes Manufacturing!
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 11, 2019 at 11:26 am

>...we have been debating how to house our teachers, firefighters, police, city workers, utility workers for ages now. And old people who need a cheaper place to end up. And you now think up a dormitory for H1B workers in a factory.

At least you did not bring up housing requisites for all of the new office workers in Palo Alto due to over development. Boo-hoo...as that particular conundrum is purely the fault of their employers who sought facilities in PA.

As for the city's public servants & teachers...at one time (decades ago) it was not uncommon for these employees to also be residents of Palo Alto. Times have changed. Again blame it on the further development of office complexes.

The City of Palo Alto is also responsible for this housing problem by allowing such developments & the resultant congestion, gridlock & 'reasonably' affordable housing shortages. Take it up with them or remove those administrators from their positions as 'decision-makers' for the greater whole.

A simpler return to times is what PA needs now...whether its another cannery, factory or shoe shine stand.

If a cannery was willing to pay me union scale to cut fruit along my imported H1-B colleagues from China, I'd apply.

The trouble with most Palo Altans is that many have gotten too big for their britches in terms of their expectations & preferred lifestyles.

You've got to pay to play so petty complaints are out of the picture at this stage of the game.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 11, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I have spent most of my working life in major manufacturing companies. The cost for which is very high so most have moved out to other states that have a cheaper tax base. Then there is the side effect of the toxic chemicals that remain in the ground.
When most of the government defense sites were closed it was assumed that they would be converted to housing. Not so fast - ground at Moffat is being cleared by the EPA of toxic chemicals. Same for most of the locations that were military bases. Then there is the toxic chemicals that were in San Jose at the old IBM plant. Sorry - been there and done that. Even the Tesla batteries have to be made in Nevada. And the cannery is not going to pay you union wages along with your H1b buddies. The whole reason they want H1B is so that they do not have to pay FICA and SDI taxes. They are gaming the system. And gaming you.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 14, 2019 at 10:19 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Note on Small Businesses - article in paper: "The California law driving away small business" - So you had a cannery 100 years ago, or 50 years ago. Life in California was not so driven by tax and judicial decrees way back then. Life today in the State of California is very thorny and expensive. Any legitimate business will be audited and taxed to death. Minimum wages and associated taxes will take over. And in a high profile city like PA then you can assume that every one will be on top of everything.
And if you assume that working in a packing plant is low threshold safety threat then you can forget that.
Side note - my cousin live in the valley and rented to a person working in a vegetable packing business. His renter got his arm caught in a machine and could not work. And then because the renter was injured my cousin could not get rid of him for not paying any rent. The laws protected the injured person until his arm healed up. And that was later - not sooner. You could further open the can of worms related to a small business in a location that has previously been tagged for housing. Creating new housing on that property would completely change the property tax value - bad for the owner - good for the city and state.


4 people like this
Posted by Is it historic
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 14, 2019 at 11:46 am

So you think that this "historic" issue was a Surprise to Holman. I think she knew about it and knowing how she operates, planned to use the "historic" card when it suits her purpose to obstruct and delay


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 14, 2019 at 3:53 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I have no concerns with obstruct and delay until the city goes after other "low-hanging fruit" to justify their requirement to add more housing. That was the rationale for adding housing at Cubberely. Gutting the educational system is not an option. Every location out there that has to add housing in a historic location has provided recognition of the historic relationship so that is already an acceptable and legal response to that problem.

So the question on the table is why that would come up now? What is everyone protecting? The location is perfect for a number of towers - each with the appropriate size condos for BMR, teacher level housing, older housing, etc. Also a full market and low level medical center, child care center for working people. Since it is between ECR and CALTRAIN it satisfies the requirement for close to transit. It checks all of the boxes so what is the problem? There will be more housing so "just avoiding more housing" is not the answer. And since the people will be working in PA then they are not stacking up on the freeway. A lot can bike to their work locations. It is not going to get any better then that.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2019 at 9:46 am

I still haven't seen any reason why not to remove the Fry's building and replace it with housing. Housing, and park. Commemorate the cannery, and, move on. But, 100% housing-- no commercial space. Whatever they do needs to improve the jobs/housing (im)balance, and the only way that will happen is if the project is 100% housing (and park).


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Posted by Duh
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 15, 2019 at 11:34 am

Speaking of housing on a city level, when that city is part of large Metro area (that should really be unified into single city) is pointless. Because every single city will find reasons why they shouldn't be building housing, and point fingers at everybody else. And that is exactly what is happening in the Silicon Valley. Palo Alto being one of the larger bad guys.

Why are developers building only high-end housing? Because it is actually insanely expensive to build things in California. So much so that to make profits, they actually have to focus on the high-end. Want cheaper housing to be built? Change the legislations that make building insanely expensive. All those legislations that seem like good idea on paper, but make building costs soar.

You can start with power of cities to pass over-restrictive zoning, requirements for extensive environmental impact studies even for minor multi-housing developments, requirements for public hearings even for small developments, all those regulations that give a foot to stand on to nimbies to drag city councils and developers through courts for years; just to name a few.

And yeah. You can't preserve everything. AFAICT, there's nothing about Fry's building worth preserving. The site may have historical significance. Put a monument, or a plaque, or something. The building itself, not so much. I don't see local nimbies pulling "historical significance" arguments when old low-income 2-bedroom starter homes are being converted into multi-million dollar mansion for some local billionaire.

If you don't do that... You'll end up with best schools in the nation that have no teachers. I checked where my kid's teachers commute from. Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, Gilroy, Livermore... And even those places are slowly but surely getting unaffordable for them. Soon, Palo Alto won't be able to hire any teachers... Because there will be none left within a commutable distance from Palo Alto. Some teachers are already leaving the district, for schools that are (much) closer to where they live.


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Posted by A Ventura Resident Looking To The Future
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 15, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Fry's would make a good full-service supermarket site...Fry's used to be in the grocery business.

Ease of access from ECR, Park Boulevard, Oregon Expressway & a viable alternative to Mollie Stone's on California Avenue.

Plenty of square footage & available parking.

Either that or...(1) create a small boutique shopping center catering to an elitist/wealthy AND/OR purely esoteric customer base, (2) establish a car dealership (like the former Ferrari of Los Gatos) that caters to an elitist/wealthy AND/OR esoteric customer base, OR (3) build a world renowned artist's colony with studios, housing lofts & galleries.

This would push property values of the Ventura neighborhood skywards and encourage house remodels, new house building while creating a area uniqueness of its own...something that the mundane downtown PA district & Stanford Shopping Center lost decades ago. Even California Avenue has gotten tacky with all of its dining establishments.

A town within a town is the vision. Let the soul-less/mindless types frequent & patronize the aforementioned 'dead zones' while fixating on their gluttony & Veblen mentalities.

Well call it 'Ventura By the Abyss' as there is plenty of PA abyss left for those who cherish it.




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Posted by Billionaire
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 15, 2019 at 4:16 pm

@ A Ventura Resident Looking To The Future:

Or you know, just parcel it into 2 or 3 lots and build a $50 million house on each, complete with a pool and a tennis court. You know, for billionaires like me. There's nothing that increases property values, like a billionaire moving in next door. Plus you increased housing supply by 2 units, so nobody can claim the city is not doing anything about housing crisis. This entire "historical significance" issue is going to be forgotten overnight if the city gets to their senses and executes on this plan instead. Guaranteed.

That said. City planners are not wealth managers. Don't treat them as such. Their job should never be maximizing value of your house. When they do get demoted to being nothing more than wealth managers for incumbent homeowners, bad things happen. Just saying.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 15, 2019 at 4:26 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Down in LA there is a Trader's Joe with a whole apartment complex taking over the whole block. To make this a benefit for the Ventura neighborhood a full service market, a child care center for working parents, and a small medical clinic - such as the walk-in Sutter Health service centers that are scattered over the peninsula. what ever happens it should benefit the whole Ventura neighborhood with some go to places for services. Also a community center on the first floor of one of the buildings that is available for rental, meetings, community gathering events. It is a very large property which if planned correctly could check off most of the requirements that are being imposed by the state.


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Posted by Happy In My Run-Down Ventura House
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 15, 2019 at 5:35 pm

> Or you know, just parcel it into 2 or 3 lots and build a $50 million house on each, complete with a pool and a tennis court.

The area is too industrial/commercial & run down to warrant a $50M house.

This would not increase the values of the existing homes in the area. If anything those existing homes + the industrial zoning would DECREASE the value of your new estate & mansion.

The Ventura neighborhood will NEVER be anything close to Bel Air, Beverly Hills et al.


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Posted by Billionaire
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 16, 2019 at 10:27 am

@ Happy In My Run-Down Ventura House:

Obviously you are out of touch with the reality of the Palo Alto real estate. There's no such thing as too much run down house or neighborhood in Palo Alto. The housing crisis is hitting even the rich so much, that they'd pay top dollar for literally anything anywhere inside city limits. Run down homes literally anywhere in Palo Alto (including Ventura) go for about $2M. Once torn down and new house built in its place (and that's the fate of about 100% of all under $2.5M houses in Palo Alto, for the past 5+ years), they are all resold for $3-4M and above. Mostly depending on the size of house/lot, not so much location or general state of the neighborhood. No need to trust my words, if you live there, you already saw it. If you don't live there, it's trivial to check it on Redfin.

I.e. while you are happy with your "run down Ventura home", and there's nothing wrong with that, if you ever change your mind, you'd have no problem selling it for as much as if it was in "not so run down" location. Just stating the reality here.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2019 at 10:37 am

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> To make this a benefit for the Ventura neighborhood a full service market, a child care center for working parents, and a small medical clinic - such as the walk-in Sutter Health service centers that are scattered over the peninsula.

In all these threads, we keep reading that small "neighborhood" (only) stores and services are just not profitable. And, the last thing that is needed is a "destination" that pulls more traffic in from outside. Just build housing. Sutter/PAMF already has a huge facility just down ECR.

>> if planned correctly could check off most of the requirements that are being imposed by the state.

AFAIK, the state wants housing. What other state requirements are there?


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 16, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

PAMF / Sutter Health is now featuring small walk-in health centers - probably to offload too much traffic at their main location. There is now one at the shopping center on Middlefield and Rengsdorf. There are more listed on their site. I think they are tiny emergency centers. As to the Ventura site MY OPINION is that it should provide some needed services for the whole community in that location. We are trying to provide services for people with not a lot of money - a small child care center. A small coffee shop. A cleaners / laundromat. Much like the set-up at Middlefield and Loma Verde.
More thoughts here is that RWC / SU are creating a huge development on Broadway and Woodside Road. The size is approximately the same as the Fry's site. Check out the plans for that location - looks really great. Checks all of the boxes.


6 people like this
Posted by Ventura Home Owner
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 17, 2019 at 8:01 am

@ Billionaire

In consideration of your economic forecasts regarding PA real estate, would it be feasible to keep these 'run-down' houses in Ventura 'as is' and then wait for a historical preservation designation like some of the older surviving Victorian houses in San Francisco?

With the increasing costs of housing in Palo Alto, we were thinking of procuring a second mortgage to buy a 50 foot sailboat & playing a 'waiting game' as home prices continue to escalate. A historical designation would also be helpful in that we would now have a viable reason to keep our 'run-down' house as is rather than make any structural/cosmetic improvements.

If Juana Briones modest home can be considered a historical landmark, wouldn't an entire neighborhood such as Ventura add to the overall quaintness of Palo Alto?









7 people like this
Posted by Classic Ventura
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2019 at 3:29 pm

> ...wouldn't an entire neighborhood such as Ventura add to the overall quaintness of Palo Alto?

I think many of the Ventura neighborhood homes were built in the 1940s...that's only 20 years away from historical designation considerations.

If the neighbors can hold out for that long, perhaps they can request that the entire neighborhood be designated a historical city site.



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