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March 03, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Less is more for Hyatt Less is more for Hyatt (March 03, 2004)

New plans call for fewer housing units and a smaller hotel

Although still cagey about a Menlo Park hotel, Hyatt officials are looking at building a smaller hotel/housing complex in south Palo Alto.

The hotelier is expected to go before the City Council April 19 for a preliminary look at a plan to build 200 housing units and a "boutique" or "specialty" hotel on the site of the aged Hyatt Rickey's hotel on El Camino Real.

"It's a reduced hotel and residential plan," said Mark Solit, Hyatt representative.

The plan substantially downscales an earlier proposal to build a 300-room conference hotel and up to 302 housing units along the back of its property. Although the hotel itself garnered little opposition, neighbors protested vehemently against the housing, which they felt was out of character with the neighborhood. The hotel, nearly 80 years old, currently has 350 rooms on 16 acres of land.

Last year, 10 neighborhood associations came out against the plan, citing traffic and other impacts on existing neighborhoods.

The protest, and subsequent delay of Hyatt's plans, led to speculation that Hyatt would move its Palo Alto hotel to a Stanford-owned site in Menlo Park. The loss of the hotel would have cost Palo Alto $1 million to $1.4 million in tax revenue.

However, both Stanford and Menlo Park officials have stated in the past week that they have had no contact with Hyatt officials about the Sand Hill Road site. Some even think the Menlo Park option was merely a negotiating ploy by Hyatt to push along the Palo Alto project.

Despite such speculation, though, Solit refused to close the door completely on Menlo Park.

"I wouldn't say that's true," he said. "Hyatt Rickey's is really standing on its own. That's where we want to go and we hope to go."

Hyatt officials were scheduled to unveil their revised plans to neighborhood leaders on Thursday, after the Weekly went to press.

Don Kazak can be e0-mailed at

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