They Call Me Menlo Yellow

Sorry for the short notice, but tomorrow, Saturday June 25, between 10 a.m. and noon, Redwood City’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services department will be gathering input on the design of a future walking/biking path along the edge of Redwood Creek. They will be hosting a morning walking tour and workshop in front of Sports Basement (at the end of Main Street, where it reaches Highway 101). Sadly, I’ll be unable to attend: I’m out of town celebrating my 40th wedding anniversary. But you can bet I’ll be providing my feedback one way or another.

For more information, see the workshop flyer.


Last week I provided a round-up of some of the more interesting development projects in Redwood City; this week I’m doing the same for Menlo Park (as well as mentioning one or two in San Carlos).

Most of Menlo Park’s commercial development activity can be found in one of two areas: either along the El Camino Real corridor, or in the Belle Haven neighborhood, between highways 101 and 84. If at all possible I try to make my research trips entirely on foot, starting from my home near Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City. Although the part of Menlo Park along El Camino Real is quite reasonable to reach in that manner, the Belle Haven neighborhood is much more of a challenge. Thus, the few times I’ve explored it, I’ve done so by parking in the area and then walking throughout on foot. I tried that again this time, but discovered that the area that is just off Highway 84 — where you’ll find the Facebook campus, the Hotel Nia (which you can see from Highway 101) — and a number of new office buildings — no longer has any real street parking (OK, there is just a bit, along Commonwealth Drive where it dead-ends into the Facebook campus). For that reason, and because I was somewhat tight on time, although there are a couple of large projects underway in that section of the city, I wasn’t able to photograph them on this occasion. From there, though, I took Willow Road to make my way into the El Camino Real section of the city, and along the way discovered one large project currently under construction:

Oddly, I’ve so far had no luck in finding out just what this project, which is located either at or near 1325 Willow Rd., is going to be. Based on the style of construction I’m assuming that it is going to be housing of some sort, but whether it’ll be apartments or for-sale condominiums, I’m not sure. Nor do I know if the units will be market-rate or affordable (or some combination of the two). I’ll keep digging, but if anyone knows anything about this project, which is located on the west side of the street between Hamilton Avenue and Ivy Drive, please write in.

Along El Camino Real, the projects are far more clear. Although, I need to do some more investigating into this little project at 115 El Camino Real:

The plan for this site is to have two commercial spaces on the ground floor, for either retail, personal service, or non-medical office use. On the second and third floors, there is to be a total of four for-sale condominiums. But I last visited the site almost exactly six months ago, and the forms were largely in place for the concrete foundation. Since then, as you can see, most of that foundation has been poured, but nothing else has been done. There was no sign of activity when I was there this time, and based on the lack of progress either the project has stalled for some reason, or it has been abandoned altogether. I will keep digging to see if I can find out which, but again, if anyone knows anything about the fate of this little project, please write in.

Just across El Camino Real from the above site is Stanford’s Middle Plaza project. That project, which sits on a long, narrow 8.4-acre parcel squeezed between El Camino Real and the Caltrain tracks, will contain in excess of 10,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space, more than 140,000 square feet of non-medical office space, and 215 residential units. The entire project sits above a multi-level underground parking garage that is accessed using a driveway that forms the fourth leg of the formerly three-way intersection at El Camino Real and Middle Avenue.

The Middle Plaza project consists of three commercial buildings flanking three residential buildings. Two of the commercial buildings, which are located at the east end of the project adjacent to the Stanford Park hotel, contain only offices:

Moving west, you come to the residential buildings, which employ a different architectural style to keep the development from looking like a monolithic whole:

Finally, the third commercial building is located at the western end of the development, just west of Middle Avenue:

This building contains the project’s retail/restaurant spaces (all on the ground floor, I presume), with office space above.

As you can see, all of the buildings are nearly complete, with much of the work now appearing to be focused on landscaping and hardscaping. Thus, I expect that the offices and residences should be available for occupancy relatively soon. It does appear that the office spaces are currently available for lease. Not so for the apartments as yet.

Across the street and a bit further to the west, the complete rebuild of the Guild Theatre wrapped up some time ago:

The Guild, which used to be a classic old movie house, is now primarily a venue for live music. The Guild already has a number of performers lined up; to see who is coming and when, and to buy tickets, check out their website.

Across El Camino and farther west is the massive Springline development. The commercial side of that project is, I believe, done, and a number of tenants have already moved in. None of the many restaurants that have been lined up to occupy the project are in residence as yet, though; I believe they’ll start opening later this year or early in 2023.

At the moment, Springline’s large central courtyard is very quiet; while it is, it’s a delightful place to sit and get away from things for a bit:

I should note that the restaurant/retail spaces do not face into the courtyard. In the two large office buildings, they are all located along the El Camino Real facade. In the residential building, the restaurant/retail spaces face out onto Oak Grove Avenue:

Springline’s large residential building is shaped a bit like a capital “Q” with its tail lying along the back of the project, on Garwood Way. The building sits mostly behind one of the office buildings, and faces to the rear of the project site with its main entrance located where Garwood Way meets Oak Grove Avenue:

As you can see, this part of the project is still under construction. Of the building’s 183 dwelling units, 20 of them will be leased at below-market rates:

  • Six (6) Moderate Income (120%AMI) 1-bedroom units for $ 3,136/ month
  • Three (3) Low Income (80% AMI) 2-bedroom units for $3,010/month
  • Eleven (11) Low-income (80% AMI) 1-bedroom units for $2,509/month

I should mention that the website for the affordable units includes a disclaimer: “Rents amount may change when the income limits and utility allowances are updated.” Regardless, Springline appears to still be taking applications for those 20 affordable units. Thus, if you or anyone you know is interested (and qualified), visit https://www.housekeys10.com/springline. As for the 163 market-rate apartments, those come in one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations and are now leasing for “summer 2022 move-ins.” Check out the Springline website for more on the market-rate units.

Related to Springline, the development shares the block with a gas station and an old restaurant building. The restaurant, which was home to Jason’s Cafe, appears to have closed around the time the project got underway; since then the building has just sat, deteriorating and gathering dust. Until recently, at least, when the building was freshened up, most recently getting a new awning:

If I’m not imagining things, even the Jason’s Cafe sign looks new, making me wonder if that restaurant is reopening. Or, perhaps the building’s owner is simply freshening it up in order to make it more attractive to a potential new tenant. We’ll see…

Continuing up El Camino Real, you eventually get to where Beltramo’s once did business. The office building that has been built on the El Camino Real end of the property has been completed for a short while now, and is occupied. Thus, on this excursion I spent more time along the back of the property, where the residential component of that project was built. You’ll find the 27-unit apartment building — Realm — immediately behind the office building, facing San Antonio Avenue:

The Realm apartments building contains units ranging in size from 485 square feet, for a one-bedroom unit (there are larger one-bedroom units) up to 1,349 square feet, for a three bedroom unit. As you might expect, this being Menlo Park, the units don’t come cheap: as I write this, I could get a ground-floor, one-bedroom, 605 square foot unit for $4,450 a month, a two-bed, two-bath unit on the second floor for $6,245 a month, or a three-bed, two-bath unit for $8,295 a month. From the photos on their website, though, the units look quite nice, and there appear to be a number of great common features, including a large bike storage room, a beautiful-looking fitness center, and an outdoor patio equipped with a gas grill. Parking is accommodated in the large underground garage that is shared with the office building; that garage apparently includes some number of EV charging stations.

That’s it for Menlo Park this week. But I’ve been meaning to provide updates on two projects in San Carlos, so I’m including those here.

The first project is not one that you might otherwise notice unless you regularly drive along Industrial Road or Brittan Avenue near Highway 101, but the fact that the contractor recently erected a tower crane with an extremely long arm makes the project highly visible even if you aren’t in the immediate area:

With the project’s two-level underground garage now complete, work has turned towards erecting the three-story life-science office building that will sit on top. Right now, though, it is that crane that has my attention; walk or drive by the site and you’ll see that the arm of the crane often extends not only across the street but beyond. It is fun to watch, though…

The other project that has my interest right now is the one at 777 Industrial Rd., the former site of Primo Honda (which can now be found at 268 Industrial Rd., as Honda San Carlos). Primo Honda only operated in their purpose-built dealership building for about three-and-a-half years; I was really surprised when they moved out. But the plans seemed to call for retaining most of the existing building, and essentially just adding a third level to the building (which was essentially on stilts, with storage of vehicles on the mostly open ground floor). For instance, here’s some of what the developer wrote in the original project application for this new project (which is planned to be another life science building):

Pursue an environmentally sustainable adaptive reuse plan versus complete demolition and reconstruction requiring lengthy CEQA review and major traffic and construction impact to community

and

The building itself will be minimally demolished to achieve our programmatic requirements and provide a cohesive design expression for this highly visible building.

Thus, I was at first surprised, and then shocked, when the dealership building went from this:

to this:

While they did not perform a complete demolition, only the structure that held up the former dealership building remains. I do understand the logic in removing the ramps that led to the service center (which was on the second floor), but I had thought that a good portion of the two-story building itself was going to be reused. Apparently not, though. Either way, the new building will largely retain the footprint of the old, and there will continue to be ground-level parking beneath the building. As for the new building itself, it will consist of three stories, with a rooftop deck, on top of that one-story platform. The exterior of those upper three floors will be composed of glass and aluminum.

San Carlos of course has a number of other projects in various stages of the development process, but for the moment, at least, these two hold the most interest for me. As for Menlo Park, I’m going to get back to the Belle Haven area soon; when I do, I’ll report back on the state of the large projects going on just east of Highway 101.

7 thoughts on “They Call Me Menlo Yellow

  1. Pingback: Good Things Come… | Walking Redwood City

  2. I understand that the Primo Honda , now Honda San Carlos, got a great deal to move very close to 28 million!!

      • I agree. I have to wonder if a deal such as this is a harbinger of an overheated market. Is there really a demand for several million square feet of new life science buildings between Redwood City and San Carlos? People much smarter than me seem to think so.

  3. Regarding Jason’s Cafe, the owner also owns several other food establishments in Menlo Park: Chef Kwan’s takeout, J&J Hawaiian BBQ, and Yum Cha Palace (now closed).
    Jason’s Cafe closed because they were hit with an ADA lawsuit. I think by the same lawyer who had been hitting hundreds of eateries all over the peninsula and the state. The building was rather old, and the owner decided to close rather than pay for massive renovations at that time. Well, after Yum Cha Palace closed this past spring due to declining business, he decided to look into renovating and reopening a new restaurant at Jason’s Cafe building. The new restaurant would be called something else and I’m not sure what type of cuisine he plans to bring to it. He will probably get more walk up business with the new Springline development opening up right adjacent to it. I’m eager to see what is going in there.

  4. Thank you for this nice writeup on Menlo Park. I hope you enjoy walking and writing about the new developments as much as I (we) enjoy reading about them.

    I have some information to shed on the first development you encountered at 1345 Willow Rd. This used to be residential single story multifamily apartments.
    I found this on the Menlo Park Construction News Update, page 7.
    https://www.menlopark.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/13135

    Gateway Housing Project at 1345 Willow Road:
    Redeveloping the existing property
    into affordable apartments 4-story
    @ 140 residential units for low
    income families. The scope of work
    includes the off-site improvements,
    underground utilities, street lights,
    irrigation/landscape, concrete
    works, hardscape along frontages,
    upgrades of median islands along
    Willow & Ivy Drive, and other related works.

    Developer: MidPen
    City Project Engineer:
    Theresa Avedian (650) 330-6779
    Eric Hinkley (650) 330-6749
    City Engineering Inspector:
    Chris Witschi: (650) 400-3477
    Contractor: Devcon Construction
    Charles Johnson
    Field Engineer (408) 519-8392

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