News

Menlo Park: Downtown Greenheart complex starts environmental review

Greenheart Land Company is commencing the environmental review for its proposed 420,000-square-foot mixed-use complex, located within the specific plan's boundaries at 1300 El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

Although the specific plan came with its own environmental impact review, according to the city's planning staff, Greenheart's project has some features that require a more in-depth, project-level analysis, such as the fact that separate developments had previously been put forward for some of the parcels now merged into Greenheart's project.

At one point, the Derry project was proposed, but that fell apart after delays and negotiations in the face of community opposition led to financing difficulties for the developer.

Greenheart is planning to build two three-story buildings with 210,000 square feet of office space, and up to 216 apartments on its nearly 7-acre site, with 16,000 square feet of retail incorporated into the commercial buildings and 7,000 square feet in the residential. Ninety-five percent of the on-site parking would be provided by an underground garage with entrances off El Camino Real and Garwood Way.

The company is aiming to provide public benefits in exchange for building to the bonus level of allowed floor area ratio at 150 percent, rather than the 110 percent, to let the two office buildings go up to 48 feet, with the top stories set back.

The proposal also includes renovating Garwood Way and creating a bicycle/pedestrian path to connect with the Caltrain station on Merrill Street.

Whether those plans will have to change won't be known until the November election, when an initiative proposed by grassroots coalition Save Menlo is likely to go on the ballot. The initiative, among other changes, would cap office space at 100,000 square feet per project, cutting by about 50 percent the amount allowed to be built within Greenheart's mixed-use complex.

Company representative Bob Burke said that while Greenheart believes the initiative will go on the ballot, the company cannot assume that it will win, and indeed, hopes that Menlo Park voters defeat it.

"We believe the initiative has major flaws with multiple unfortunate consequences, namely that Menlo Park residents will miss the opportunity to achieve the full vibrancy of the downtown, as well as lose much-needed revenue for the schools and the city that would result from development in accordance with the downtown specific plan, which was adopted as part of a thorough, transparent, and deliberative six year process," Mr. Burke said.

Rather than wait to see how things turn out, the company has decided to move ahead and pay for the environmental review. "We do not believe it is in Greenheart's or the city's best interest to freeze the entitlement process now because a group of neighbors is dissatisfied with the outcome of a fully vetted, public planning process," he said.

The council is scheduled to hear an informational-only update during its meeting tonight. At this stage, no action will be taken regarding any type of project approvals; the city is preparing to determine the scope of the review.

"Detailed project review likely isn't happening until 2015, in any event," said Thomas Rogers, senior planner for Menlo Park.

Comments

Posted by Susanne Chsng, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Green heart please consider low cost housing this time! Somehow you dodged the bullet in your other project.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The company is aiming to provide public benefits in exchange for building to the bonus level of allowed floor area ratio at 150 percent, rather than the 110 percent, to let the two office buildings go up to 48 feet, with the top stories set back.

The proposal also includes renovating Garwood Way and creating a bicycle/pedestrian path to connect with the Caltrain station on Merrill Street."

ALL of these things would go away if the Lanza/Fry initiative were to pass - another example of the unforeseen consequences of a very poorly written and unvetted document produced without any public input or review.


Posted by Oh Please, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:32 pm

[Portion removed. Please discuss the topic, not other posters.] Pro growth is fine but there is a point where residents can and should question what our city managers are doing and everyone should be open to more intense re-evaluations. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Oh Please - you are welcome to provide both facts and your opinions, and I will continue to do the same as this Forum is " a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."

What is missing are facts and opinions from the supporters of the Lanza?fry initiative - I suspect because they realize that the true facts are not on their side.

Now let's hear some facts and opinions from Oh Please.


Posted by Beth, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jun 17, 2014 at 9:34 pm

I'd like more information on the "public benefits" and what, in detail, will be done to create this. Not a bike path, as that will benefit relatively few residents.
I'm also for low-income housing. This is not a preferred inclusion for most developers for obvious economic reasons. Also, they say "up to" 216 apartments, meaning 1-216; likely 150?
El Camino corridor in MP is going to be a horrendous mess when this property and Stanford land are completed, as planned by the ones developing - who do this for profit to themselves. only.


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