Town Square

Sweeping deal aims to transform former Fry's Electronics site

Original post made on Jun 22, 2022

Palo Alto and The Sobrato Organization have reached a deal that would pave the way for new townhomes, a park, affordable housing and retention of research space at 340 Portage Ave.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 9:50 AM


Posted by Samuel Jackson
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 22, 2022 at 11:36 am

Samuel Jackson is a registered user.

Progress towards more homes is good if it's real progress. Can't help but wonder whether Council isn't, through structure of this agreement and its incentives, setting a course that will leave us with a new parking garage and no new homes. ("Step 1: Get Land. Step 2: Delay new homes forever. Step 3: Hope no one notices?"). Looks like everyone gets what they want in this story except the public and community struggling with our housing crisis and climate change.

On transportation, there is a chance to more closely connect this site with California Avenue, and/or a revitalized El Camino Real, if more investment is made. Close bike/scooter ride to Caltrain, shops and grocery, etc. -- but long walk and plenty of drivers ready to mow you down getting onto Oregon Expressway or if you try to cross El Camino (or sometimes, just walk down the street). Given the site's low level of parking occupancy (<50% even before rise of remote/hybrid work) the idea of building a parking garage is backwards looking and a terrible use of space. Put in more homes, with mandates that they not bring cars if necessary. Make it easier and safer for workers and others to get to/from California Avenue without cars. Lack of vision in this domain is sad, if not surprising.

Posted by Andy
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 22, 2022 at 1:01 pm

Andy is a registered user.

This is great news! Kudos to the city for taking action. Affordable housing is good not only for our housing crisis, but our climate crisis as well. Hoping for quick action!

Posted by tmp
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2022 at 4:20 pm

tmp is a registered user.

This is just another development decision, that will give us more office space and more people, driven by the California state government telling cities what sort of high rise, resource gobbling, water using developments they need to build. Cities give in to developers who want to make a quick buck off of scare land because the state and developers will sue them if they do not acquiesce.

The state government is run by development interests that do not care about overpopulation, massive environmental destruction and pollution, lack of water and your quality of life. These kind of massive developments need to be approved no matter what the cost in terms of livability of your town or the state or even the world. Construction leading to destruction of life is where the money is and that is all that matters to those in charge.

This could have been a repurposed historical building and community space for an already crowded, hot, environmentally damaged and drying community but when there is money to be made just destroy what is there and add more on top. That’s how our current “talk about the environment but don’t actually do anything about the problem” government shows leadership.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 22, 2022 at 4:38 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Hurray. And let's make sure that affordable means just that for all income levels of AMI where families can live and thrive and contribute. Family homes are desperately needed at a rental level for workers in retail and service jobs for Cal Ave and elsewhere. Affordable family homes mean enough square footage of living space to mature along with the demands of a community. We have enough micro and studio units in the "pipeline" as is. This affordability set asides sorely missing for families . Mayfield Place is a for profit very low income disaster for families, elderly, disabled. Please, please no parking puzzle lifts at Fry's. Unsafe, not-user or residential for ADA or service workers in pluming or other service work -- small trucks and utility vehicles do not fit in there. Only designed for long term like Carvanna companies and valets.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 22, 2022 at 5:16 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Thanks go to all our hard working CC members who are trying to make it work, but I have some concerns/doubts about some aspects of it's success. It sounds like we'll be getting re-educated on the definition of affordable housing in the modern era. My fondest hope is that someday that would include homes that are affordable by my gardener, my house cleaning lady, my barber, people who serve my food in restaurants, the clerks who work in local stores and food markets, as well as starting salary teachers, secretaries, and policemen and firemen. We are a barren incomplete community without them living right here among us. We bought our house in South Palo Alto in 1963. Those people were our neighbors. We also had lawyers and doctors as neighbors to balance it out a bit. They fled quickly to better neighborhoods. We were also a very racially diverse neighborhood. That's holding true today to some extent, but with the majority now going to Asians.

2600 sq ft of retail space?? Who would ever want to go there to open up a retail business? I live in a 1876 sq ft home. And don't tell me a small grocery store could make it there! A florist, bakery, nail salon? Maybe!

That creek restoration idea! I hope there a few people living that remember why that creek bed was cemented in in the first place. I hope that idea never catches on for my neighborhood creek, Adobe Creek, just a few yards up the street on Louis Rd. I have fond memories of the natural creek in the 80's, when the water flow was rising to the brink, with the possibility of overflowing and rushing down the street to flood my home. There are many streams in Northern California where steel-head trout can spawn and survive. It doesn't have to include Adobe Creek.

Posted by JonnyK
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 24, 2022 at 10:42 am

JonnyK is a registered user.

I am pleasantly surprised and extremely happy that part of the original cannery is going to be preserved for future generations to admire and appreciate. It is a very important historical site for the city, the state of California, and especially for Chinese Americans. Honestly, I had given up hope that it would be saved, after seeing so many historic buildings bulldozed over the years. Thank you Sobrato and Palo Alto City Council.