Neighbors rise against plan to replace Red Cottage Inn with bigger hotel

Owner wants to tear down small hotel for Hampton Inn with three times as many rooms in Menlo Park, but residents call it too massive.

The owner of a Menlo Park hotel who wants to replace it with three times as many guest rooms is facing fierce opposition from a neighborhood group that threatens to appeal the project if the city approves it.

Sagar Patel, who owns the 28-room Red Cottage Inn at 1704 El Camino Real near the Atherton border, said his proposal to raze the hotel and build a taller, 68-room Hampton Inn in its place checks off all the city’s approval boxes. He’s also made a number of concessions sought by nearby residents, such as better screening for privacy, after meeting with them over the past 16 months, he said.

“I was under impression that we meet (Downtown) Specific Plan requirements and that’s the holy grail,” Patel said. “Not only did we meet them, we exceeded them.”

Residents say they aren’t pleased because after Patel came forward with a proposal in the spring that would have placed all parking underground and set back the building 36 feet from their homes, he later scrapped it saying the concessions would be too costly and without warning, presented a different plan to the Planning Commission during an October study session.

In the latest proposal, parking would be at ground level and setbacks reduced to 10 feet.

“He decided he couldn’t afford underground parking and he changed everything,” said Deborah Melmon, a member of Park Forest Plus, the group opposing the new hotel.

Melmon said the current proposal places the edge of the three-story building 17 feet from her master bedroom window and living room on Buckthorn Way.

“He’s gone from a hotel that a lot of time and effort was spent on trying to compromise with the neighbors … and suddenly changed it up on us,” she said. “If the Planning Commission votes to approve the plan, we’ll appeal it; if it doesn’t, he will. Either way it’s going to end up at the (City) Council.”

Patel said he is tweaking the proposal to possibly put the parking back underground, though in a less expensive fashion, before going back for possible approval in February.

 

 

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