Shining South

In last week’s post (Shining a Light) I mentioned that I had taken a number of photographs that I was holding for this week. I took those photographs while walking along El Camino Real (and the immediate surroundings) in Menlo Park. It’s been a while since I’ve done an update on Menlo Park, and thought it was time to shine might light on that community once again. In particular I had wanted to walk through the large Springline development, the commercial portion of which is complete — something I did last week, since that part of the development is now open to the public.

Although the vast majority of Springline’s office space, and all of the retail space, has yet to be occupied, I found the public courtyard in the center of the development to be a very pleasant place through which to stroll. I especially enjoyed the fact that, due to there being no restaurants or stores to patronize (yet), I had the place all to myself…

Springline is the current name for the development at 1300 El Camino Real that for a long time had been known as Station 1300. Fronting onto El Camino Real (the commercial portions) and Oak Grove Avenue (the residential portions), this giant project sits on a 6.4-acre parcel that until April 2005 was home to Cadillac Buick Pontiac GMC of Menlo Park. Today, the view of this development from El Camino Real looks something like this:

Springline’s retail spaces appear to be located all along the ground-floor El Camino Real faces of the two buildings. The upper floors, plus the ground floor spaces facing into the central courtyard, apparently are all office space.

The center of the project’s front face — where you enter the public courtyard — is located to the right of the white building in the above photo; the project continues beyond with a second commercial building that is somewhat darker in tone and slightly different in style (it’s somewhat hidden by the trees running down the middle of El Camino Real in the above photo). A large metal arch spanning the gap between the two buildings marks the courtyard entrance:

Go through it, and you see this:

The courtyard extends all the way back to Garwood Way in the rear, which now seems to mostly serve as an entrance to the complex’s parking garages (there is also a garage entrance off El Camino Real). As you might be able to tell, it widens as you go back, to a more open courtyard. Here is a view of the left side of that portion of the courtyard:

…and here is a view to the right:

Note the fountains and trees. I should also mention that at least one tenant appears to have moved into some of the space on the upper floor of this particular building, so this development’s office space is at least partly leased.

Everything within the buildings you see in the previous two photographs is office space, except for that white building with the tile roof all the way at the back. That is a portion of the residential building, which you eventually come to if you keep walking. Before I get to that, though, I wanted to point out one other amenity — possibly only for residents — that within this development:

This is a small fenced dog park. And at the back, that little building apparently contains a public restroom.

Getting back to the residential portion of the Springline development, it is a large, four-story residential building that contains 183 apartments, 20 of which will be offered to qualifying tenants at a below-market rate. The residential building is shaped a bit like the letter Q, with most of the apartments wrapping around an inner courtyard sporting a pool and a hot tub, and the remainder extending like a tail between one of the office buildings and Garwood Way. The main entrance to this residential building, which is not quite complete, is located at the corner of Oak Grove Avenue and Garwood Way:

The portion that forms the tail of the Q extends to the right in the above photo; if you could follow along Garwood Way (which I could not, being that it is still under construction and thus fenced off) you would come to the end of the tail. But by entering the courtyard between the two office buildings and walking all the way to the back, I was able to get to Garwood Way and the end of that tail:

The courtyard comes out on Garwood Way where the three metal posts prevent cars from entering, near the right side of the above photograph.

While I was back there, I noted the Garwood Way entrance to the multi-level underground parking garage:

That garage, along with a small amount of surface parking, can accommodate just shy of 1,000 vehicles. That includes not only parking for the residents and those working in the office and retail spaces, but also for office visitors and customers of the development’s future stores and/or restaurants.

I enjoyed walking around the Springline development, but do have to wonder how well it will do once the retail/restaurant spaces are leased and fully operating. While I don’t find Springline to be all that far from the busy shopping and dining area that is Santa Cruz Avenue, I have to wonder if others will make the roughly two-block trek from the corner of El Camino Real and Santa Cruz Avenue. Service businesses that don’t depend upon walk-by traffic should do OK, though.

Springline isn’t the only development underway in Menlo Park, of course. While in the vicinity I also walked around the mixed-use development just a bit farther north on El Camino Real that’s being constructed on the former site of Beltramo’s Wines and Spirits. Although I don’t believe it has a retail component, the development does consist of a large office building at 1540 El Camino Real, plus, on the same property but fronting onto San Antonio Avenue (which parallels El Camino between Encinal and Glenwood avenues), a 27-unit residential building. Most of us are probably familiar with the office portion of this project, given its rather commanding presence along El Camino Real:

If you are familiar with the front, you are also familiar with the rear; it looks very much the same:

In the above photo, though, note the balconies just edging into the left edge of the frame: those are from the residential units in the building at the rear of the development. And note that there is some amount of surface parking between the two buildings (this project also sits atop a subterranean parking garage with spaces for both residential and office tenants).

From San Antonio Avenue, here is what the residential building looks like as you approach it from Encinal Avenue:

And here is a closer view:

As you can see, although the residential building also employs modern styling, it otherwise looks nothing like the office building in front.

Now, skipping all the way down El Camino Real to the other end of Menlo Park, we come to the city’s other large project in this part of town (Menlo Park has of course also endured a lot of development over the last several years out near the “Meta” (Facebook) campus — but I didn’t make it over there last week). Before I get to the Middle Plaza project, however, let me first drop in one picture of a much smaller project underway just across the street, on the site where the small Stanford Inn previously stood:

As you can see, the contractor is about ready to pour the concrete footings for the relatively small building, which when complete will have two retail spaces on the ground floor (together they will total about 1,458 square feet; these won’t be large spaces), and four residential condominiums on the second and third floors.

Across from this little project, though, is Menlo Park’s other enormous mixed-use project. The Middle Plaza project (so-named because the project will have a small public plaza along El Camino Real right where Middle Plaza intersects with that street) is being built by Stanford University on a long, narrow strip of land that previously was home to three side-by-side automobile dealerships: Stanford Lincoln Mercury, University Ford, and Anderson Chevrolet (for a time this last became Tesla’s second-ever showroom). The strip of land may be narrow, but when combined with its length, the property works out to a total of about 8.4 acres. On it will be a mix of residential and office buildings, along with some retail/restaurant spaces on the ground floor of one of the office buildings. The four residential buildings will range between three and five stories in height, and together will contain 215 apartments (a handful of which will be made available to qualified tenants at a below-market rate). Those residential buildings will be flanked by three non-medical office buildings that will combine for about 143,000 square feet of office space. The entire ground floor (about 10,000 square feet) of one of the office buildings — the one at the north end of the development, immediately adjacent to the public plaza — will serve as retail and/or restaurant space. And of course all of this is being built atop a huge two-level parking garage, one that has room for about 930 vehicles.

The above photo shows the office building closest to Menlo Park’s border with Palo Alto. Note the two brick columns near the left edge of the photo; these mark the mouth of the driveway leading to the Stanford Park Hotel, which is beyond the right edge of the photograph.

The entrance to the Stanford Park Hotel and the above-shown office building are located at the Cambridge Avenue intersection; on the other corner of that intersection is the development’s second, larger, office building:

Continuing up El Camino Real, we then come to the two residential buildings that front onto El Camino:

Two of the project’s residential buildings lie along El Camino, while the other two fit in between those and the Caltrain tracks. The following photograph shows the gap between the two frontmost residential buildings, along with a part of one of the rearmost buildings:

In the above, work is being done on some sort of entranceway that spans between those two frontmost buildings.

Finally, here is what the third and final office building is looking like. This is the one that will have retail/restaurant space in its ground floor, and in front of which will be the public “Middle Plaza”:

Of all of the buildings in this development, this one seems to be the least far along. Everything else looks almost ready to be occupied. How quickly anyone will actually move in to the commercial portions of this development — or any of the other new developments in Menlo Park, for that matter — remains to be seen, given our economy and the body blows it has suffered due to COVID-19. But at least with the Middle Plaza development, I’m guessing that the project’s owner — Stanford University — can afford to be somewhat patient. As for the residential portions, thanks to the still-high demand for housing all up and down the Peninsula, those should have less trouble filling, even given what I expect will be fairly high lease prices.

That’s it for Menlo Park this week. However, this post spurred me to put together a spreadsheet tracking all of the major development projects going on throughout all parts of Menlo Park, and I was surprised at just how long the list was. Surprised, but pleased, given that it will be fodder for a future post on the many projects going on in Menlo Park…

1 thought on “Shining South

  1. Whoa, the developer was able to provide a large public plaza and still turn a profit? Based on our dealings with developers here in RWC, I didn’t think that was possible. 🙄

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