Town Square

City nixes plan for medical offices at Town & Country Village

Original post made on Jun 8, 2021

After flirting with the idea of allowing medical businesses at the Town & Country Village shopping center, the Palo Alto City Council abruptly dropped the idea on Monday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 9:48 AM


Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 8, 2021 at 10:39 am

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We are about to reach herd immunity and T&C is vibrant. We did not need to spot zone for this landlord just because he asked for it.

Thank you, the majority of the CC for doing the right thing. Your courage and fact-based thinking ensures the protection of this beloved community asset.


Posted by neighbor1200
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 8, 2021 at 10:43 am

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Personally, I'd rather see the City allow some medical offices at T&C than hold out for more sugary food options that actually aren't healthy for anyone. What's the logic in that? Can T&C start with medical offices on second floors (would they need elevators?)? It would be great to have some dentists at T&C. Why shouldn't certain kinds of medical care be easily available at a shopping center? Is it a less worthy or attractive use than a store selling supplements, almost none of which have passed clinically testing?

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2021 at 11:02 am

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Good call, Council. Too much retail already has been dismantled for office space. If this site were the only retail site that had been transitioned to other use, I might agree it's a "minor experiment," but that's not the case. T&C is perfectly located for the types of retail and restaurants that are there. Further, Sutter Health and Stanford Medical Center and Packard Children's Hospital are right nearby.

Once again, Cormack and Tanaka advocate to maximize short term developer profit margins. Our city needs sales tax revenues. Owners of these spaces need to get a clue about land use balance and the need to have services handy; not only for residents, but also for local workers who need places to run errands and eat meals during their workdays. Diverse, thriving retail makes cities attractive places both to live and to work. Their short-sighted greed for higher margins is destroying our community for us AND for them in the long term.

Posted by Merilee Steinman
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 11:39 am

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Nobody shops at T&C Village anymore.

All of their classic stores have either gone out of business or downsized.

Considering Palo Alto's penchant for dining out, perhaps turning TC Village into a huge food court or a number of individualized restaurants might be the best option.

I've noticed that there are a lot of obese people residing in both Palo Alto and Mountain View.

Is this what happens to a pervasive dining-out community?

Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2021 at 11:48 am

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Thank you, City Council. I have shopped regularly at T&C and dined there as well. I am fully vaccinated and plan to return to the restaurants there, especially Kirk's. The bookstore is a gem and we are lucky to have it. It's a wealth of choices between Books, Inc. and Kepler's, a bit further away.

It was scary to think our city council, with the exception of the two usual suspects, was even considering giving in to the landlord's scheme. He was using a pandemic as cover for lining his pockets with "sure thing" tenants.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 8, 2021 at 12:04 pm

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Thank you, City Council (except for Mr. Tanaka and Ms Cormack) for rejecting this just when the economy is starting to recover and when people are starting to shop again.

As for the claim that no one shops at Town & Country, just look at the parking lot; it's so crowded that people have trouble backing out of their parking spaces.

Re the question about putting offices on the 2d floor, the Ellis reps said they can't because of the disability laws because there are no elevators. Obviously it never dawned on them to spend the money to put in elevators.

I'd love to know how much considering this lame proposal cost the city which failed from the start to define "medical retail" or to differentiate between medical offices and "medical retail" and were too lazy to go out and interview tenants on why T&C vacancy rates are higher than elsewhere. If they had, they might have learned something about Ellis' lousy track record with all the tenants they mistreated and chased out, all the businesses they destroyed. Their presentation quoting 4 bland statements of praise from tenants was laughable, like the clerks at Gott's are knowledgeable about the business end of things/

I guess they all forgot the term "Fake Retail" which was used to justify putting offices like SRI's downtown and even though they sold nothing. I was always temped to go in an order a pound of mult-client studies just to make the point they sold nothing.

Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 12:12 pm

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Agree Council made the right call. How about this...give out a few one-year leases to keep the center operating, then convert to retail after that?

Posted by peppered
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 8, 2021 at 12:17 pm

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Why is the Council dictating this? Retail locations are hurting badly.
They should be allowed to rent to at least some medical offices if that's good for their business.
And it would only increase foot traffic since many retail locations are vacant.

Isn't this centralized planning? Whatever happened to the free market?

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Jun 8, 2021 at 12:22 pm

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There is no problem finding a place to buy things in Palo Alto, except for big box shopping.

The majority of council is living in the past. The US has been overstored for a long time and the increasing shift to big box stores and online shopping are accelerating the trend.

What the majority of council does not understand (not being economists) is that the excess amount of retail in Palo Alto is hurting the ability of remaining stores to survive.

Posted by C. Z. Trefz
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 8, 2021 at 12:33 pm

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When my great uncle owned T&C he allowed medical offices on-site, to be more specific a dermatologist and psoriasis clinic. I see no reason why T&C can't have more one-stop shopping which includes medical or even aesthetic practices.

Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 8, 2021 at 12:38 pm

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I would love to see a quality sewing store. Something on the level of Britex.
Quality fabrics and craft items. No Joann Fabrics, please! Yes, you can buy fabric online but it's important to be able to touch and see what you are buying, especially if it's beautiful fabric!

Posted by Lynne Henderson
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2021 at 1:16 pm

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T&C is a very busy shopping center--and has been for 40+ years. Given its proximity to Stanford and Paly, good businesses can and will survive there. Transforming it into PAMF "south" or "alternative medicine" places will only hurt in the long run. in the meantime, we'd lose Books, Inc., several decent restaurants, good optical stores, and other places easy to access (despite parking and traffic issues already)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 8, 2021 at 1:28 pm

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If Town & Country really cared about "medical" they would have tried to keep respected long-term eye doctor Liza Berkowitz instead of going for all chain stores. I they really cared about our medical well-being, they would have recruited independent doctors and dentists and eye doctors, not chains.

Stores like Britex would be great, as would resident-serving businesses like the excellent tailor/ seamstress at Nouvelle Bridal which Town & Country bounced a few years ago to replace it with a whole series of unappealing short-term tenants.

There's no shortage of the standard big box retailers nearby but we desperately need independent and interesting retail like Asian groceries, art supply stores and framers bounced from their downtown locations etc.

Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 8, 2021 at 1:58 pm

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[Portion removed.] Even before Covid, retail has been declining precipitously. Vacancies at T+C are 20%... yet the posters here describe the landlord's reasonable request to diversify 10% of the space (for medical offices!) as some kind of "scheme" by the "greedy corporate owner". As if this is all part of a nefarious plot.

In a few months, when the landlord is forced to bring in more chain stores, the same posters will whine incessantly about the lack of locally owned independent businesses, and how we're turning PA into WalMart ... all from the safety and comfort of their million-dollar homes.

Posted by Dusty Pierce
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 6:55 pm

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For those old enough to remember, T&C Village should bring back the mule driven wagons that entertained children while their parents were shopping.

Also bring back some of the merchant types that put T&C Village on the map like S. Christian Copenhagen, Spiro's, Prestige, the Maserati dealership, Edy's, Patrick James and others.

At present the place is BORING.

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 8:15 pm

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I am very thankful for this! I don’t want sick people(non-Covid times) near me or coughing around me when I’m trying to relax and eat my beloved Kirk’s steakburgers and Kira’s cupcakes!

I am also getting tired of Tanaka’s act regarding seemingly “only” backing developers for profits. I will be monitoring Tanaka and all Tanaka related activities now to make sure there aren’t anymore campaign violations or any other nonsense from him! No more funny business Tanaka…I am watching you.

@ Merilee-“Nobody shops at T&C Village anymore.”
From the article: Council member Greer Stone said he regularly comes to the shopping center, which is across the street from Palo Alto High School where he serves as student activities director, and often sees crowds there at all hours of the day”
Hmmm…so I guess that’s not actually true. According to the great Greer Stone T & C Village is packed with shoppers! Get money T & C and stay open!

@peppered-Why is the Council dictating this?
The council is in charge and you will respect their decision.

I’m glad T & C will not have these boring medical offices. Take that Leland!

Posted by Finally
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2021 at 8:30 pm

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Thank you, City Council! This was the right move.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 8, 2021 at 9:49 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"@peppered-Why is the Council dictating this?
The council is in charge and you will respect their decision."

Also because T&C asked for a zoning/code change that could have applied to all other shopping centers / districts in Palo Alto many of which already have medical OFFICE tenants. I

f you listened to the debate, Tanaka and Cormack were already trying to stipulate when that expansion could happen. When the need for an econonic development staffer/consultant was pointed out to stimulate retail businesses and evaluate claims about what stimulates foot traffic, Ms. Cormack immediately and transparently tried to expand the motion include OTHER businesses beyond retail -- as if PA needs to pay to attract more offices!

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 9, 2021 at 11:27 am

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In a local paper they used the term "Food Mall" with a list of all of the new restaurants that are waiting to open at T&C. Los Altos is also planning a food mall in downtown that will have all type vendors. This is a move to make the local city scene friendly to all of the residents and visitors so they have a reason to hang out and visit. Lots of types of restaurants listed. This idea did not pop up in a vacuum - it is looking at how other cities are working to revitalize their local business base. Better than clothes and shoes.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 9, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

The Los Altos "food mall" is an entire very modern building on State Street sponsored by several folks from Google to revitalize downtown. It's more modeled on the San Francisco Ferry Building concept.

Web Link

"Downtown Los Altos is getting a massive food hall
Uploaded: Feb 4, 2020
San Francisco has the Ferry Building. San Jose, the San Pedro Square Market. Napa, the Oxbow Market.

And soon, the Peninsula will have its own food hall.

State Street Market, a two-story, 33,000-square-foot building, is currently under construction at 160 and 170 State St. in downtown Los Altos. Local developer Los Altos Community Investments, which was founded by Anne Wojcicki (the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe), is behind the project...

Plans submitted to the city show an interior and exterior remodel for a mixed-use food hall and market. The 16,505-square-foot ground floor will include a coffee bar, ice cream shop, ramen bar, raw bar, teaching kitchen, a bar, restaurant and something called "healthy bowl," according to the project plans. On the second floor, which is office space, there will also be a fitness area, lounge and meeting rooms, according to the plans."

2 of the new Town & Country restaurants are strictly takeout, one a Thai chicken place and the other a dessert place for ice cream (or similar). The other is a dine-in restaurant replacing Mayfield Bakery.

Big difference between the two in terms of scope, creativity and drawing power.

Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2021 at 3:44 pm

rita vrhel is a registered user.

Thank you City Council for not "spot zoning" at T & C.

Like Council member Stone, I find T& C packed when I am there.

Ellis has, per report, a long history of not supporting his tenants, i.e. The Cheese House and Prestige. He may need to reduce his rents for the short term to fill his stores. Is that so bad? Believe it is called doing business.

Changing our zoning regulations every time a "special interest" person requests will result in no consistent zoning regulations. This has happened on El Camino and additional zoning regulation changes are being requested this week at the PTC.

Thank you City Council for saying NO!

What a difference it has made having a City Council majority that questions developer requests rather than rubber stamping them. Now if we can just get Staff to attend to the important issues in town.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Jun 10, 2021 at 10:55 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 1, 2021 at 12:31 pm

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I visited T&C yesterday to get an ice cream cone. Check out the CVS. The CVS in that location has a huge liqour department. It is obviously the liqour dispenser for that area of the city. How about all of those mixed drinks in the box - premade. The place was jumping. Children all over having a sweet - adults out having a walk to enjoy the sun. Looking for new restaraunts. Very busy place.

Really there to check out the confluence of Embarcadero Rd and ECR. We really need to look at that interchange - it is a mess. The flow of traffic is a mess. We keep trying to get people out of cars. Bikes will not work for all of the people who are coming in to see the games at SU and PAHS. We do not have enough parking lots for all of those people going to the games and other cultural activities. And students who do not live in the direct vicintiy.
We need a modern transit center there - on the ECR west side put a covered waiting area with seating for people using all of the busses. That benefits SU as they have the inner campus buses for people. Cut into the walk way for the busses to wait and not take up lanes on the street. Put a similiar set-up on the PAHS side - they have the room in the parking lot - cut into the walkway for a place for buses to wait and not take up lanes in the road. A covered sitting area. This all benefits T&C - access for those who do not want to drive and park.

Now here is where all of the motels in Barron Park come in. All of those fans will be staying there for the weekend and take the bus down ECR for the events. They do not have to worry about parking - and any drinking at the games and T&C. Put all of the buses through that location so that the whole city is available via transit.