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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.

 

 

Read more on The Mercury News

 

 

Bay Area tops U.S. in new office space, but lags in housing starts

 The Bay Area is a hot place to build cubicles, conference rooms, and office suites. But don’t look for as many hammers pounding out new homes, condos, and apartments.

The region is expected to open 18.2 million square feet of office space in 2018 — tops in the nation and more than New York City and Dallas combined — while home, condo and apartment building has grown only modestly.

More work space, more jobs and more people chasing a limited supply of homes is expected to add more steam to the pressure cooker of the Bay Area housing market.

“It’s encouraging that so many respected employers are investing in Bay Area jobs and immigration growth” said Carl Guardino, CEO of the business-backed Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “But we all recognize that jobs need a place to go home and sleep at night.”

The region created six times as many jobs as housing units between 2010 and 2015, according to a study by the leadership group and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The increased housing pressure has forced lower-income workers out of the region at much faster rates than higher paid workers, even as jobs go unfilled.

The run up in commercial development is led by major office openings in the South Bay, according to a survey from real estate data company Yardi Matrix. The big projects in 2018 include the official, complete opening of the 2.9 million square foot Apple Park in Cupertino, Park Tower at Transbay and The Exchange on 16th in San Francisco totaling 1.5 million square feet, and Facebook’s MPK 21, a half-million-square-foot campus designed by Frank Gehry in Menlo Park.

Other major developments underway include the Voyager property developed by Nvidia in Santa Clara, Microsoft and Google projects in Mountain View, the Stoneridge Mall Road project in Pleasanton, and Moffett Towers in Sunnyvale, according to Yardi Matrix.

The real estate data firm estimates that commercial openings in Santa Clara County are up 6.5 percent over the same period last year. The San Francisco and Oakland metro has seen three times as much commercial space open up this year compared to last year.

 

 

Read more on The Mercury News

 

 

Facebook is bingeing on Bay Area real estate

As Wall Street frets over a slowdown, the social media giant’s expanding property empire suggests Mark Zuckerberg has few doubts about the future.

Since Facebook Inc. arrived in Menlo Park, California, seven years ago, the town has been overrun by construction cranes, orange safety cones and truckloads of building materials to transform a former industrial area into a sprawling campus that can support a $500 billion tech giant.

So big are the ambitions that the company plans to redevelop whole swaths of the land it holds in the Silicon Valley city, potentially doubling its workforce there over the next decade to 35,000 people—more than Menlo Park’s current population.

Even that won’t be enough for its expansion plans.

“We continue to grow,” John Tenanes, the company’s head of facilities, said in a conference room overlooking a salt marsh in Facebook’s newest Menlo Park office, a Frank Gehry-designed building called MPK 21 that opened last week. “We’re at a point where we needed more space, and this area couldn’t keep up.”

For all the turmoil surrounding Facebook and investor concerns about a slowdown, the company’s gone on a real estate binge that suggests that its optimism about its future knows no limits. Menlo Park is just the start. In the past year alone, the company has signed agreements that could vastly expand its footprint in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s been one of the most active leasers in the region’s already hot office market, spurring brokers and analysts to do math on just how it will fill so much space.

 

 

Read more on Bloomberg

 

 

 

Facebook’s building permits soar past $1B in its hometown of Menlo Park

Facebook may be rapidly expanding its footprint across the Bay Area, but a new report shows the social media giant is still highly focused on — and invested in — its hometown of Menlo Park.

In recent years, Facebook has filed building permits valued at more than $1 billion in the small Peninsula city, according to an analysis by Kelsey Graeber of BuildZoom, a San Francisco-based startup that tracks building permits to connect property owners with contractors.

“Menlo Park has been our home since 2011 and we’ll continue to be a responsible corporate citizen as we grow in this community,” John Tenanes, the company’s vice president of global facilities and real estate told Silicon Valley Business Journal in a statement on Tuesday.

Facebook declined to confirm specific dollar amounts for the campus, often referred to as its “West Campus,” and it’s worth noting that building permits are not an exact science.

The values on the publicly available permits are companies’ best estimate early on of what a given project will cost, and often fall below what is actually spent on a building. The permits generally do not include costs for items like small change orders, furniture or some fixtures for instance.

 

Read more from Silicon Valley Business Journal