Menlo Park council likes what it sees of new Menlo Gateway plan


By Joshua Alvarez | Special to the Almanac

Developer David Bohannon presented revamped plans for the Menlo Gateway development to the Menlo Park City Council on Tuesday night, and the council members appeared to like what they saw.

"I want to make sure we can expedite the process," said Councilman Peter Ohtaki. "I would love to finally see it happen."

The updated plan includes an additional 20 hotel rooms -- bringing the total to 250 -- a decrease in the size of the health and fitness facility, and a new architectural design for the office buildings. Mr. Bohannon introduced a new hotel partner, Ensemble Partners, and hotel brand, Marriott Autograph Collection.

The total project involves constructing three office buildings -- totaling 694,000 square feet -- three parking garages and one hotel on 16 acres along Independence and Constitution drives, between Bayshore Freeway and Bayfront Expressway.

The changes are expected to result in slightly less traffic and additional tax revenue for the city than were projected for the earlier plan, and the project is expected to exceed the sustainability standards agreed upon in 2010, the developers said.

City staff will conduct a detailed review of the revised project and consult the Planning Commission.

Council members expressed approval of the new plans, agreeing with Mr. Bohannon that they fall within the parameters of the original plans. The council urged city staff to streamline the review process as much as possible.

"Every month we don't build this we lose $300,000 in revenue for our schools," said Mayor Catherine Carlton. She also thanked the developers for the effort to exceed sustainability and environmental standards.

The developers predict the hotel will meet or exceed Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards and that the office buildings will far exceed LEED Gold standards, possibly reaching Platinum.

The council approved the project in 2010. Voters later agreed with the council's decision: 64 percent approved the project by passing ballot Measure T.

"I'm excited to see (the) project come forward now," Mr. Ohtaki said. "I'm impressed with the vision for the hotel. The differences relative to the plan approved by voters are minimal. We are talking about a 20-unit increase for the hotel but a decrease in the fitness center, so there's overall a net decrease of 9,000 square feet."

City staff will verify what impact the complex would have on traffic. Mr. Ohtaki commented that while the increase in hotel capacity would invite more traffic, the decrease in the fitness space will help offset the increase.

"I'm also very excited to see this come forward," Councilwoman Kirsten Keith said. "I know it has been a long time. I'm looking forward to the bicycle facilities. That's great to see because more and more people are asking for this. People want to see more pedestrian and bike options. I also think it's great to have the large ballroom and conference space because we don't have that and people have to go elsewhere."

Councilman Rich Cline did not express an opinion on the updates, but asked Mr. Bohannon and his team if any decisions have been made about the use of bird-safe windows, transit options, and the type of hotel service. The developers said they had not yet taken any formal decisions, but promised to keep the council updated.

The council directed city staff to present a consent item for the March 24 council meeting that would authorize the staff to begin working with the Planning Commission without further council input.

Councilman Ray Mueller was absent.

● Earlier story: Menlo Gateway unveils plans for 250-room hotel

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4 people like this
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Mar 11, 2015 at 3:36 pm

So reducing the square footage of the fitness center will reduce the demand for the fitness center and therefore traffic will be reduced? Demand won't change, the fitness machines will just be packed in tighter and traffic will actually increase.

8 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 11, 2015 at 6:39 pm

What a shame that our City Council is choosing to be just rubber stamps for billionaire developers. What a shame. Yes, I know -- our city will get some property tax out of this silly hotel, but -- setting aside 10% of our water for THIS? What gall! And we, the little people (peasants?), are required to conserve water? When this completely unnecessary hotel is going to get water we simply cannot afford to share? Ridiculous!

And this darned thing will be ugly, and all that glass will make very dangerous reflections during sunrise and sunset onto vehicles on the freeway, thus contributing to even more accidents.

I'm sure there are many residents who could come up with far more sensible ways to increase our city's tax revenues than this ugly hotel.

5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 11, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.


Measure M lost. Get over it.

Like this comment
Posted by Measure for Measure
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 11, 2015 at 10:15 pm

The Gateway project was Measure T which won.

6 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Menlo Voter --- and all who Liked Menlo Voter's comment --

What? No civilized, reasonable, and thoughtful reply to my legitimate objections to this hotel being built? Just an arrogant order that I should stop objecting to what I see as a big wrong? Sheesh.....

Would any of you be kind enough to tell me which of of my objections are not supported by those facts? (As far as "ugly" goes, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2015 at 7:09 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.


your comment that our city council "continues to be a rubber stamp for billionaire developers" is objectionable. You've made this claim in a variety of places here and it's wrong. Time is moving on. Progress is being made. Time for people in this town to either get involved in the development process or get out of the way. If Measure M's defeat didn't tell you that then I suppose nothing will.

10 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 13, 2015 at 9:34 am

Where will the water come from to support the development in Menlo Park? It is irrelevant to me at this point what measures passed or didn't pass. We have no water in our foreseeable future and our council had better wake up to that fact. Perhaps reading "California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?" from the LA Times will get the council's attention. The author is the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech.

Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 13, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Urban areas use about 25% of the water. 75% goes to agriculture. That is where the adjustments can be made. Of course some allocations are preset by old water contracts BUT there is plenty of room to adjust and provide water for all new development. Most of the new development is very green - making good, efficient use of the resources.

The water usage argument is just the same old irrational fear and opposition to change that has plagued our area for years from the Measure M people and their ilk.

As Menlo Voter says - Get Out of the Way!

Like this comment
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 13, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Long Time Resident...thanks for the condescending and rude response. I should have known that to voice any concern regarding development on this forum would not lead to meaningful dialogue.

Like this comment
Posted by Say What
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Mar 15, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Would someone please confirm what schools Mayor Carlton is referring to referencing losing $300,000.00 every month this project is delayed. The last school district boundary map I looked at show it in the Redwood City School District. How is this money going to be allocated?

2 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:26 am

Supporters of Measure T wrote in 2010 that the Gateway Development would contribute $600,000 a year to the Sequoia Union High School District. The mayor needs to explain her figure of $300,000 a month or 3.6 million a year.

Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:45 am

In regards to water, yes indeed, 75% goes to agriculture in CA, of which a substantial portion is for cereal crops destined to feed animals in China for meat production.

So if the new hotel wants to save water, customers should be restricted to vegetarians who don't shower.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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