University Art moving to Redwood City

High rents, land prices cause popular Palo Alto art store to build elsewhere

Downtown Palo Alto's high rents are pushing another longtime retailer to another city. This time, it's the 65-year-old University Art and its The Annex gift store.

The business, which is a destination spot for artists and offers many unusual gifts, will construct its own building at 2550 El Camino Real in Redwood City, Cornelia Pendleton, daughter of one of the founders, said.

University Art had been looking for a space to buy or move into in Palo Alto for the past two years, she said. The store's owners tried to purchase its current building at 267 Hamilton Ave. in 2008 but were outbid, she said.

The building's owner plans to retrofit the Hamilton Avenue space, and the store would have to relocate for at least two years, she said. University Art looked at moving into the old Apple store on University Avenue, but rent was too high.

It wasn't feasible to stay in Palo Alto, where rents go for at least $4 to $6 a square foot, which is more like $6 to $8 per square foot with taxes, insurance and maintenance, she said.

"It's very difficult to be a small retailer in today's market. ... Economically it does not make sense. There are guaranteed rent increases in the future. It's not sustainable," she said.

University Art owns its San Jose and Sacramento store buildings.

Pendleton's aunt, Lauretta Cappiello, now 91, and her mother, Virginia Biondi, 89, started the business in 1948 with her grandfather, Anthony Cappiello. The family had moved west from New York.

They purchased University Office Supply store, which was located at University Circle in downtown. In 1957, they moved to Hamilton Avenue north of Waverley Street. They occupied their current location in 1964, she said.

Anthony Cappiello died in 1957, but Pendleton's mother and aunt are still actively involved in the business as board members, she said. The store and adjacent The Annex gift store will stay open until the move in the spring.

Pendleton said she will miss the ambiance of downtown Palo Alto. She'll miss stepping out the door to talk with merchants or strolling to one of the many restaurants or coffee shops. But Palo Alto's popularity has made it increasingly difficult to find parking in downtown. The new location will have plenty of parking spaces, she said.

The 11,000-square-foot Redwood City store will have an open floor plan, an improvement over the current layout that is divided into small rooms. Pendleton said she was not yet ready to reveal other details of the new space.

"It will be everything we are now, and more. And it's only four miles door to door (from here)," she said.

The fate of another longtime downtown shop, Shady Lane, located at 441 University Ave., is up in the air. A proposal to redevelop the site of the gifts and jewelry store went to the Architectural Review Board last month. A two-story, 24,750-square-foot mixed-use building is proposed.

The architect is the Hayes Group, two of whose downtown building plans have recently been appealed to the City Council and survived.

Shady Lane has been a downtown fixture for 38 years, said Alice Deutscher. The store's lease is up in February, and she does not know if they will be allowed to stay on.

"We have known for a long time that the building could be torn down. The writing is on the wall. We're just part of what's happening in downtown.

"We would love to go on and be part of the community as we have. We're a strong, vital store that the community loves," she said.

Shady Lane is looking for another place. "We just need a home to function," she said.

"We have history here. We have a store people love and love to shop at, It's hard to be off the avenue. It's kept us vital in many ways. People love finding a local store that is connected to a community, There's less and less of that now," she said.

In June, Stanford Electric Works, a 99-year mainstay, moved from its High Street and Everett Avenue location to Mountain View after reportedly being outbid by a $3 million dollar offer for the property from the owner of California Skin Institute, a dermatology chain.

Palo Alto stationer Congdon and Crome, a downtown fixture for 109 years, closed its store this year.

Empire Vintage Clothing, located at 443 Waverley St., is moving to Mountain View after the Christmas season, the store announced on its website.

House of Bagels, which has been in Palo Alto for 30 years, is also looking for a new location. Its building in the 500 block of University Avenue is slated for redevelopment. The new building at University and Cowper Street will include ground-floor retail and office space.

Retail stores elsewhere have also moved. Know Knew Books on California Avenue migrated to Los Altos this year.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm

So sad that University Art must move -- the move (like all moves) will be difficult and costly. On the other hand, I'm happy that they found an alternate site in Redwood City.

Palo Alto's rent and parking challenges is changing the whole character of Palo Alto and that is a loss to be sure. It is a boom town. But independent business were the heart of Palo Alto -- chain stores and restaurants come and go. There are other moves underway, and there will be many more.

But Redwood City's downtown and surrounding shopping areas continue to thrive -- and we support independent businesses. PA's loss is our gain.

Welcome to RWC University Art -- we won't let you down!

Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Wonder what the City Council will have to say about this loss of another downtown Palo Alto fixture?

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm

I'm glad University Art is not going far, and it IS easier to get to RWC and park than downtown!

This is really a loss- and what also goes with it is the UNIVERSITY feel of Palo Alto.

It's getting pretty trashy downtown, and drunk 26 year olds like the woman who just took on a divider on Embarcadero probably don't need Art supplies, or pens, or framing, or toys, or any of that educational stuff.

This is the dawning of rooftop terraces, drunk techies, and glass buildings with RETAIL.

Any bets on what will replace it?

Posted by Empire vintage, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2013 at 1:23 am

Also, our small & indie shop is relocating to Mountain View Jan 1st. Even though there is an empty space in our building/ 2 doors down my rental increase is not negotiable. It seems that the city council is aware of the changes because the building owners lawyer is part of the city council and all their deals get aIl get approved/ like demolishing the vintage buildings and building more office space & farewell, indie small shops, you cant afford palo alto any more. Besides with the stpid influx of offices & resturants retail struggles here anyway. Noone comes to shop downtown because there are no shops. There goes our citys charm cause the only people who can afford such rents are giant corporations. Neither, i may add ( condos or offices) collect sales tax that help fund the town.heard they are going to turn it into ANOTHER retail space into a resturant. Lame. Palo alto your lame for being so greedy.

Posted by Empire vintage, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2013 at 1:32 am

Resident 3- the buildings to replace Design within reach, shady lane, the yogurt shop & the retail space at kipling & university will all get knocked down and look just like the building on university & bryant. Plus they are proposing the same at the corner of cowper & university/ the rug store, plan toys & chhocolate. Those are the people with the lawyer on city council. They sent out the day before a notice for downtown business & residents to go to the council meeting the day of their proposal ( or the day before). Yep, everyone newsflash palo alto is crooked & greedy. Who cares cuz we need more moneyyyyy!! Sorry my above post jumps atound a bit, i couldnt erase to edit.

Posted by Palo Alto Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 18, 2013 at 2:00 am

I love the vibrant downtown but don't know how these stores can make money with just walk-in traffic since parking is horrendous and people don't view downtown as a shopping destination. Eventually, perhaps there will be all food businesses.

Posted by Hermia, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:25 am

I've always loved Palo Alto, and wanted to stay forever, but have been slowly coming to feel it will be too expensive to live in during retirement. The loss of all the charm and character of downtown will just make it easier when we have to go. Who would regret leaving what Palo Alto is becoming?

Posted by Sw, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

Unfortunately, I feel the same as Hemia. My husband and I moved here 12 years ago partly for the schools, but also because we felt Palo Alto was a beautiful community with lots of attractive ammenities. However, with all the building that has accelerated over the years, it is so crowded here now. I am not even comfortable with my kids biking to school with all the traffic. We also do not like the continual loss of retail to new housing and the ugly new buildings the CC approves. We thought we would retire here, but when the kids are through school we will likely look to other locales. It is a shame, Palo Alto could not preserve its charm.

Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:57 am

And now the schools are falling too.

Paly and Gunn used to be in the top 100 high schools in the US (see US News).
Yeah, I know, rankings are not a good measure of quality -- an argument more often used by those that didn't make the cut.

But the decline is unmistakeable.

Palo Alto -> Shallow Alto.

Posted by Sw, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:58 am

Sorry for the typo on your name Hermia!

Posted by JoAnn, a resident of Ventura
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:00 am

Those of us without cars cannot go jumping from town to town to chase these stores. I'm sorry University Ave. is turning into overpriced-restaurant row. As for the city being greedy, it's more like the individual landlords and owners.

Posted by Big loss, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:05 am

Really? I love this store. It is one of the key reasons I still go downtown. I'm so sorry to hear this. I'm going to go online more now. Goodbye, downtown.

Part of what supports high downtown rents is the interesting mix of shopping. I'm finding it less and less interesting and inviting. There's little that differentiates it from going to a mall or online. Short term profit greed seems to have clouded property owners' collective judgment. Too bad for everyone.

The "market" does not always drive people to make good choices.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:06 am

It sucks. Is what it is, but it all just sucks!

Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:08 am

Palo Alto is pricing itself out of diversity and individuality. It has become a place where nothing matters but wealth and pseudo liberal NIMBY politics. People who have lived here for decades are being forced out because greed has overtaken common sense and community sensibility. The CEO's living in our area are more concerned about immigration rights and the economic plights of people living in other countries than they are about the people right under their noses who are being driven out of this area or into poverty by just trying to pay their rents and get to work each day. I have read many comments on this forum that if you can't afford it here, get out, and those comments are never deleted for the offensive tripe that they are, yet other comments reporting the actual state of the community are deleted. If everyone who can't afford to pay rent here were to leave, who is going to mow your lawns, provide administrative support to your CEO's, lawyers and doctors, repair your home, serve you coffee, ring up that iPad, teach your children, report your news or sell you that Tesla?

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:13 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

This makes me very sad, even though I agree w/many of the comments about downtown. Being a Palo Alto native, I've gotten used to change, but a few of the long term shops, such as Univ Art & Shady Lane, have been go-to traditions in our now extended family. My husband buys most of my jewelry from Shady Lane and we shop there and at University Art & The Annex for nieces & nephews. I recall my trips there as a child, when my artists aunt & grandmother would seek out fine art supplies. It was all so colorful, exotic, interesting to me.

I wish them the best of luck in RWC & will continue to shop there!

As for Empire Vintage - I'm sorry about the rent hike there. I'm also sorry that you're so frustrated by your experiences. It's awful when shopkeepers don't get supported by the powers that be. I look forward to checking out the Mt. View location. I think it's a great fit (pun intended) for your fun, funky shop!

Posted by enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

Once Shady Lane is gone, I'm also DONE with downtown. That store has had to survive so many rent increases by that greedy landlord it's appalling. I guess our City Council and the people who own property downtown forget what it was like just a few short years ago. They could lose even more business this time by pricing Palo Alto into the stratosphere and losing the foundation businesses that made downtown Palo Alto interesting. I agree with what others's said above, downtown is becoming more and more generic, sort of like Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade without the charm.

Posted by CuriousGeorge, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

One of the comments mentions that one of the developers involved in the projects engages a lawyer who is on the Palo Alto City Council. The only two members of the council who list their occupations as "lawyer" are Marc Berman and Larry Klein. Which one is it?

Posted by More sunlight please, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:22 am

There are 3 lawyers on the City Council.
Which one is representing the owner? Why hide the name of a public figure?
And who is the building owner?
Time for a little more sunlight!

Posted by Listen up City Council, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:22 am

City Council Members: I have lived in Palo Alto for 25 years! But now I basically do everything I need to do in Mountain View. The Mountain View Center for Performing arts is gorgeous with first rate theatre. I shop at Michaels, REI, Bed Bath Beyond, Trader Joes, Safeway, Whole Foods, Costco -- all in MOUNTAIN VIEW. I eat out on Castro St. because Univ. Ave restaurants are impossible to get to with no parking. Mtn View Library puts Palo Alto libraries to shame. Our City Council needs to start paying attention to what resources neighboring communities are offering. It's pathetic I leave Palo Alto for everything I need from shopping to entertainment - other cities are benefiting from my spending and taxes. And now one of the few stores I frequent in downtown Palo Alto is leaving (Univ. Art). I didn't even realize that Stanford Electric had moved to Mtn View and I use their services too! What a shame for Palo Alto.

Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

One more store I like moving out of Palo Alto. Know New Books and the Nature Gallery are both thriving on State St. in Los Altos.

Not too many reasons to go downtown any more and pretty soon Cal Av. will be inaccessible, too, along with the Town & Country traffic mess.

The Trader Joe's is easier to get to in Menlo Park even though I have to go 5 miles out of my way each way but I can save a huge amount of time.

But hey, just raise utility rates to offset the declining sales tax revenues.

Posted by Andrea Wolf, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:44 am

I sure hope Palo Alto Sport and Toy owns their building.

This is a big loss for our community.

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm


You really think that affordable housing would go to the poor? No, it will end up going to 20 somethings with big jobs who can't afford a house here but are willing to pay for an apartment in a high rise. Or for overseas investors who can claim no income. There are no rules to get the real poor, or people who are from PA.

The techie office assault is driving all prices up, only the rich can enter Palo Alto, and the not-so-rich in Palo Alto cannot AT THE SAME TIME pay for affordable housing for people who may actually be richer than they are.

Anything to do with affordable housing in Palo Alto is a scam, and the affordable housing blather is a DISTRACTION to sell out the POOR in town to bring in even richer folk. Can't you see this happening with these small legitimate institutions? City Hall will do NOTHING for them, and just invite richer and richer,

Absolutely NIMBY to these monsters, but you are caught up whining about how mean and bad the rich of Palo Alto are. The current meanies of Palo Alto are angels compared to the self-obsessed arriving in town. The ones who City Hall caters to and insults the rest of the community with platitudes on social issues.

Posted by Sally, a resident of Triple El
on Dec 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I, too, am a saddened customer of University Art (especially when the children were little) and the Annex (every year before holidays; they always had good products). I hope they are very successful in Redwood City, where we go almost all the time now for movies. And we also spend much of our money on Castro Street in Mt. View, and are Theatreworks subscribers, so we eat there often.


Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Shady Lane? Nooooooooo! My go-to place for unique gifts for friends and family.

I also miss Stanford Electric being in town. They had EVERYTHING you could think of.

So now there are only two places I care to visit downtown: Letter Perfect and Pizza My Heart.

Posted by sparty, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Well consider this--

What does a city get from property tax? What does it get from sales tax?

How much are they expecting to pay, very soon, in retirement--plus replacements for those workers?

Old Pro moved from some old dump of a building on El Camino to a pretty nice location downtown...

you can't blame the city for everything. Not everyone has the opportunity and resources, but some old time stores like Keeble and Shuchat own their own buildings...and more...on the same street

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I certainly can't dispute peoples feelings about losing their favorite stores, etc.

However I do not agree with the above poster who says that they cannot find parking in DTPA when going to dinner on University Avenue or nearby in downtown PA.

It's simple - instead of driving around all of the streets hoping to find a spot, all you have to do is go to one of the garages. Especially the Webster/Cowper and Bryant/Lytton garages. Even the garage under city hall will have spaces in the evening. Always a space...stop wasting time driving around and just go to a garage.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm

With the announced departure of University Art, and the probable departure of Shady Lane, I'd like to alert the City to the continued existence of one other independent downtown business that I patronize regularly: the Prolific Oven bakery. I trust that due attention will be paid to this oversight, and that immediate steps will be taken to find a developer who is willing to evict the tenants, tear down a heritage building, and erect another cheap glass-and-steel box with too little parking. If that modest step is taken, I promise to stop contributing to downtown's traffic and parking problems by ceasing to go there at all.

Posted by A hole, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Please no, we can't lose House of Bagels next! That would leave a huge hole!

Posted by Palo Alto is dying, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I have been in Palo Alto for many, many years and am sick at heart to see the changes - and mostly because of money, money, money being the motivation for most of these changes. Greedy landlords are first on my list of people who could help prevent what is happening here. I've always felt that we're all in this economic decline together. landlords seem to have no caring about palo Alto and the small business owners. Most of them simply want more money. They are destructive and just don't care. I wish I owned a building or two in downtown. What joy it would give me to locate some of these threatened businesses in my buildings - at much lower rent than they would have to pay to stay where they are. Also, the City Council ought to be able to step in and do some things that will help these problems. Is money all they care about too? How about protecting our city and our community? It's very sad and I foresee the day when my husband and I move elsewhere even though we don't want to even think of that! Is there no one who has enough caring or power to protect and take care of Palo Alto? Very, very sad to watch helplessly as Palo Alto sinks into the morass of greed, horrible traffic, chainstores - all the things we came here to avoid. Is there no hope?

Posted by Floyd, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

The next thing to go s/b the present city council (or some of it).

Posted by law, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm

read this everyday...''law of''. ''law of''.this is truth. palo alto tries to get rid of ''the artist''. in favor of ''the priest police dept.''. ''law of''.

Posted by klein light, a resident of Southgate
on Dec 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by More sunlight please, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm

These are not magical forces causing buildings to be destroyed. There are actual people with names who are doing this.
Hayes Architects are putting glass boxes all over. No mystery here.

Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

The garages are usually full, too, even in the evening.

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm

PA is dying

"I wish I owned a building or two in downtown. What joy it would give me to locate some of these threatened businesses in my buildings - at much lower rent than they would have to pay to stay where they are."

This would make a person an instant HERO.

Anyone out there? any friends with money to buy out buildings downtown?

We NEED people to save some corners before they really DIE to glass and RETAIL.

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm

By Retail, I mean the bad stuff - chain stores, flagship dub stuff.

The oldies like niversity Art are not usual "retail" - they're basic needs, and reflect the community instead of

Posted by good bye Palo Alto, a resident of Stanford
on Dec 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I've lived around here more than half my life, and about 15 years of it in Palo Alto - my husband and I used to love it - but the last 5 years the decline is sad and unmistakable. Too crazy, pushy, stressful, crowded and obsessed with itself. Too much construction and development.

Stopped shopping in Palo Alto - downtown is awful - one of the only places I could talk myself into driving over there for was University art. I'm happy to shop in Redwood City, Menlo Park, Los Altos - Burlingame - anywhere but Palo Alto. So sad to see it all fall apartů.

2014 Goal - never shop, dine or drive in Palo Alto. So many fabulous places to explore without all the crap that comes with it.

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm

good bye,

What the mad money doesn't understand is that Palo Altans actually do not "need" any new crap, and we were doing just fine without the GLOSS.

THe oldies may still survive, the new stuff is not going to succeed unless they convince TOURISTS to park here for expensive whatevers.

20 something drunk techies do not shop, and apparently cannot even sit down for a meal, I have noticed the new Palo Alto Grill (dark and hip) in a prime corner EMPTY.

What works in Palo Alto are yogurt shops and we have plenty.

The new retail downtown is basically BACK OFFICE FOR SAN FRANCISCO.

Posted by public info, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

@More sunlight please
The ARB staff reports are very informative as to how these various projects
go through the City review process and who the developers are. For example Smith Equities, which is Boyd and Lund Smith are doing 537 Hamilton, across the street from 524 Hamilton done by Steve Reller. Roxy Rapp did 278 University Ave at the corner of Bryant. These are all Ken Hayes projects.
This is the short list.

Posted by public info, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm

537 Hamilton is not a Ken Hayes project. The architect is Korth Sunseri Hagey Architects.

Posted by City Council needs to pay attention, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I remember growing up in the vibrant, quirky, well-educated place that Palo Alto used to be.The loss of University Art is yet another step in the wrong direction for Palo Alto. The expansion of the Palo Alto Art Center in recent times will not offset this loss - the city has become a place for passive consumers, not creators. Artists, writers, and creative people who are not programmers absolutely cannot survive here. The plays that are put on by Theater Words are increasingly shallow musicals that only the most vacuous minds would have an interest in. The City has focused more on building a behemoth building to house the library than on creating a community of readers or supporting writers. Over the last couple of years, I have been struck by how rude the people behind the desk at the libraries are. Wake up, City of Palo Alto.

Posted by Sadsadsad, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Too bad University Arts is leaving, they are a Palo Alto landmark. Empire Vintage, sad to see you going as well.

Rather than buy funeral homes and your neighbors homes, why don't Palo Alto's billionaires invest in the small town feel of the community they live in, and will raise their children in?

It's not a new idea--the Google founders bought up parts of Los Altos to ensure that it keeps its small town feel.

Posted by TimH, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2013 at 7:58 pm

It's been said that "the mysticism in the ordinary" is a most elusive force right in front of your nose. I'm saddened by Palo Alto's race on a far different path, one that might as well be paved with mirrors.

The comments thread for this story is more powerful than the article. In addition to the wonderful establishments mentioned, remember when downtown PA (and Menlo Park) issues were around the demise of the movie theaters and genuine fountain shops? I think about those other bygone places of Palo Alto's history that were so local that they were actual proprietor names...Bishop's, Harryman's, Patterson's, Bergmann's, Stickney's, Ken's (Ok, Menlo and Mtn. View, but still a real name), Sandy's; I am sure you can all add more names to this list.

A good friend recently visited and reluctantly commented about how crowded and boring Palo Alto was, from its jumbo buildings, faceless bistros, narrow streets and abundance of "sameness". I didn't bother to form a rebuttal, but did suddenly miss the House of Pies...

Posted by Wong Town, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2013 at 8:00 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Shallow, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Could you all hop over to Steve Levy's blog and explain why it's wrong to let ABAG run this city and why we can't keep cramming more more more into these few square miles?

I recently visited Georgetown in DC, not having been there for a few years. I remembered it as a great area with lots of homegrown character. Seems as though they had a massive upheaval about three years ago because of greedy landlords and dozens of long-time shops were shuttered, replaced by chain stores. Walking down M street is now like walking through the Stanford Mall. Though here in Palo Alto our favorite stores are more likely to be replaced by office buildings and stack&pack housing.

Over the last fifteen years, most of what we loved about Palo Alto has evaporated. I honestly don't see any way of stopping the juggernaut, and I suspect that most of us who complain will be labeled as NIMBYs and anti-progress. My only question is where can we go? This is rapidly becoming an inhospitable community.

Posted by Jo of RWC, a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm

With all the building in now famous PA, is anything "green" happening like an urban park, or eco-friendly building materials? My fear is that all the new building going on in RWC will turn it into another PA before long. Oh woe.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2013 at 9:08 pm

The destructive cumulative effects of this next wave of projects is hard to even contemplate and grasp not only on University Ave but also in the Hamilton corridor. It's not only the visual and traffic impacts of these projects but the very fabric of the community, the character, the human scale, all lost. This is a clash of value systems between the residents and the developers, the City and the staff. And the wrong value system is

Posted by Sad, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm

It's sad to read the news about the favorite retailers are leaving downtown. And it makes more sadness that we could only write comments in this forum but the residents could do nothing to change it.

Posted by Empire vintage, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm

You know I went to addison, jls & paly. Im a local gal with a dream. Thats all. My mom was a downtown metchant forced out by the landord tripling her rent. The same basically is happened to me...

My landlord told me to pay up or get out as someone wants my space and can pay him more. Instead of a 60 day notice I agreeed to pay him an extra $500 a month for 2 months before it went up as Im a sublease/ month to month. Then came the 35% rental increase, no negotiation, Im not sure but thats what happened. I payed out of FEAR. Well look at us now. It still happened, I am closing my beloved Palo Alto store.

We are a micro business and have 2 employees and we work hard to be a unique treasure. We LOVE being here. I though I would never be a statsic and be forced out. It seems people do not think of downtown as a fun shopping place and dont even consider it on the list of regular shopping stops. How can you pay rent increases when there is zero draw of customers to your area? We have been seriously struggling with sales in the last year, this september I decided we would close in December...

But luckily found an affordable quirky spot just off Castro in MV. Its a good spot, affordable and filled hopefully with funky people who like vintage and secondhand clothing. The building owner pickedout of all the applicants (probably with alot more money than us too/// Im the angel in our angel funding dept, and no...Im no VC) us as she owns the building and seems to be interested in unique retail shops. Really? You dont care about the money and love your downtown so much that your willing to take a risk on US? Its a miracle, a real true miracle.

Someone on the downtown business district told me PA was modeling itself after Burlingame and all the resturants. Who needs retail when you can gave so many places to eat? At night I see empty resturants and think of all the money lost on rotten food as there are no customers! Besides, how long has big burlingame been a sucess for the merchants & customers? Hmmmm.

Palo Alto should have been focusing on bringing the unique and wonderful places we all have enjoyed for years. Quirky is cool, giant corporations are not. Greed is king and money is everything important. I sure hope that one day the city counsel will be filled with merchants of retail & resturants that reside in downtown and in our town...not just a bunch of people with business like dentists & lawyers. How in the world do they know what is working for the indies downtown? Bottom line, they dont and my heart is broken now I am just a statistic and memory of the super cool vintage shop on Waverley. Hopefully one day it can get back to the peak of its quirky indie sprit of the 80s & 90s.
Shop local or we go away. Bottom line. Thanks for listening!!

Posted by Jack, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:38 pm

I didn't know that Burlingame was a model for anything or anyone, and a success? Seriously. I thought it was just a place to sell cars with "low overhead". That's PA's model city; not the Facebook village? Ok, that one wasn't serious but my first question was genuine.

Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Are we sill paying someone some absurd amount of money to promote tourism to Palo Alto and what's the total budget to promote tours of gridlock and office buildings?

Posted by Palo Alto Grandma, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Roxy Rapp bought the building and is going to add several, don't know how many, stories to the back. The building is four stories in front and two in the back. He is going to reinforce the basement to allow the additional height. Apparently the new addition is in the glass and metal mode, not something that will match the existing architecture.

Posted by Lisa Jadwin, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:07 am

I grew up in PA but moved to the east coast 30 years ago for school and then work. PA was a wonderful place to grow up in - great schools, interesting people, fantastic weather, entrepreneurship. Much of that is now gone, replaced by a techie/hipster vacuum. I agree with the writer who said Mt View, MP and Redwood City have more vital downtowns.

Palo Alto city planning has been poor. Other similar cities, like Boulder, CO, have figured out how to preserve vital downtown space with a diversity of shops. University Ave could be a pedestrian mall with parking offline. Shuttles, trolleys, and other public transport would help. Extending BART or light rail down the peninsula to SJ (and further south) would reduce traffic.

But Palo Altans/peninsula residents are partly to blame for this. The NIMBY opposition to public transport/light rail is foolish and short-sighted. Palo Alto has the money, the ingenuity, and the ideological commitment to progressive politics. So who's gonna step up and take the lead?

RIP Varsity Theatre, Megabooks, Swensen's, Rapp's shoes, Stapleton florist, University Arts, Cityshoes, House of Today, Swain's House of Music, and everything else that served real people with real needs.

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2013 at 7:20 am

Empire VIntage,

Your entire post needs to be published in the Weekly. We should all be listening and I wish we could have done something about it.

Like University Art, and all the merchants, it seems our displaced community stores have been handling displacement in silence. I am happy for you that you have found neighboring places, but we need to get you back!


PLease expose the details of these stories.

And then contrast them to the dumb comments that Klein and Keene or the other stooges make about growth. They sound like a cheap chamber of commerce brochure salivating over gloss. In one of the recent CC meetings, Klein said something like Palo Alto has always grown and changed, and that this is not different. IT IS DIFFERENT. Keene talked about PA being a heart for the world to "plug into." ??????????

And what is up with the FOOD COURT going on downtown? Mostly low quality fast food.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2013 at 8:46 am

Empire is a terrible loss to our Downtown. That little block lost the
Barbie Doll Museum about 15 years ago which was a huge loss. Just when the City decided to promote tourism the City Council ignored the loss of this unique tourist attraction and did nothing to help relocate it if necessary. At that time we also lost the Artifactory on Hamilton, a venue for local artists. Now Shady Lane is threatened. The local property owners/developers just pursue their own short-term self interests in a vacuum with no long-term overview by the business community itself or public policy framework.
The qualities, character and even livability of the City are vanishing.

Posted by June, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

I had a gift on hold at University Art last night. I headed towards the shop at 6:30pm to pick up the gift by 7pm because the store closes. It was so packed with cars downtown that I spent 15 minutes looking for a parking spot. I was so close to giving up and looking for a gift elsewhere, but then I thought about how much I wanted to give University Art my business, so I stayed persistent and finally found a spot 6 blocks away deep into the University South neighborhood. Then I remembered how all of the residents are upset about their residential streets being so full. Wow Palo Alto! This city is a MESS!

Posted by P.A. Native, a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 19, 2013 at 11:23 am

Empire Vintage,

I have never been to your store, but I also grew up in Palo Alto attending Walter Hays, JLS and Paly. I live a short walk from Castro St. in Mountain View now and I look forward to checking out your new location.

Too much money in Palo Alto has changed the face of the city we grew up in. Mountain View is a great city and has the feel of Palo Alto before it went to the posh. Welcome! Wishing you the best of luck.

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm

@ Jack - If you think Burlingame is Auto Row, you've seen its California Ave. "Downtown" Burlingame is Burlingame Ave. Broadway, about a mile & a half north is more like PA's California Ave. Many people liken Burlingame Ave, with old buildings and retail variety, to a mini-Carmel North. Burlingame and Los Altos have attractive walkable & shop-able downtown areas, although the City works project in progress now on Burlingame Ave may give you a preview of what's to come for Calif Ave, PA during construction.

Downtown San Mateo is very vibrant too. That might be a better model for PA downtown development as it clearly combines & serves many needs of the residents-retail, movies, restaurants, banking, medical-dental, and 2 downtown supermarkets and wonderful Central Park. Both Burlingame & San Mateo have metered street parking. Burlingame also has metered lots while San Mateo has paid garages.

See? Burlingame, Calif Ave is similar to Alma, PA-parallel & mostly adjacent to RR tracks, with some car dealerships.

Posted by PA toy & sport, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I hope we won't lose Palo Alto Toy & Sport next. We love to go there to shop & browse.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

June - did you try parking in the city hall garage? Just go down 2 levels and there was plenty of parking. That's what I did.

BTW - yes, House of Bagels and the other shops have been given eviction notices on the corner of Cowper/University. However, once the new building has been finished, the University Avenue side of the building will still offer retail space. It's about 18 months before the new building will be finished, so I doubt they have even thought about looking at who will be retail tenants.

Vintage - sorry to see you go. But you also admitted that you're business has suffered a great deal in the last year or so. I think you are correct in realizing that even if the rent stayed the same - the demographics you need for a thriving business are not going to be in downtown PA. Good luck in your new location.

Posted by empire vintage, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 19, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Its hard to edit such a long thread on your iphone- especially when your so heated about a topic (and vintage/non-tech). I am so heartbroken that this is my small business situation. I know I am not the only one struggling with this, and my heart bleeds for us all... you know those crazy people in retail vs. selling on the internet. My overheard costs are insane vs. internet retailers (rent, insurance, collecting sales tax, ect...) Plus,in a retail setting the personal touches are that we offer fantastic customer service, fittings, styling and costuming- internet retailers try but its just not part of their ultimate business model. Its sooooo different for retailers.

I just wish Palo Alto was more friendly towards merchants and helping draw people downtown. There is an entire association dedicated to this and the solution is a once yearly Art & Wine festival and this year there was a hacker-athon. It was offered with very minimal hype- it just kinda happened. Um... how does that bring people to eat & shop. Well, it does not.

It seems other local downtowns are hosting small events & happenings in the downtowns. Palo Alto seems not so interested in this, and has lots of excuses why. Oh like cost, the cost, cost, cost.. but other towns do it and make it work somehow. Mabey there is no solution. Our solution is to move and never look back, as Palo Alto is so interested in Tech that retail is not part of the solution, its part of the problem here..Yes, we are truly vintage and old school. Support local & support indie! Im heartbroken- today our happy face balloons are crying black tears of frustration.yes @cresent park dad... business has been slow, as in the regular costume parties always happen, people always love vintage... but the walk-in traffic that we benefitted from in 2009-20012 has almost stopped.

This is how I wanted my FIRST post to read: it makes a much more sense now!!

Also, our small & indie shop is relocating to Mountain View Jan 1st. Even though there is an empty space in our building/ 2 doors down my rental increase is not negotiable. I heard they are going to turn it into ANOTHER retail space into a restaurant. Besides with the stupid influx of offices & restaurants retail struggles here anyway. No one comes to shop downtown because there are no shops. so farewell, indie small shops, you cant afford palo alto any more.

There goes our city's charm cause the only people who can afford such rents are giant corporations. It seems that the city council is aware of the changes because these building owners lawyer is part of the city council and all their deals get aIl get approved/ like demolishing the vintage buildings and building more office space & condos.. Neither, i may add ( condos or offices) collect sales tax that help fund the town.

Lame. Palo alto your lame for being so greedy.

Posted by Jack, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm

@Downtowner, thanks for the Burlingame scoop! They sound like they have it together. I grew up in the old Mayfield/Calif Ave district and only went "downtown" on special occasions to hit the University Creamery or pass through while tagging along with my folks. Today, Midtown is the most sane place in our city (in my humble view). Just like the good people here writing about downtown, I think that California Ave. has kicked around from being ignored by the city to getting too much "council" attention. Yes, it was nice & quiet back then but I know that my memory is a rosy child's view. It had all we needed - Purity (Co-Op), Pattersons, Campus Bike Shop and on the El, Jack's & Jose's for eats plus Tressider just a short bike ride away. I think that "luxury" describes "poverty" for today's new residents.

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Crescent Park Dad

"Vintage - sorry to see you go. But you also admitted that you're business has suffered a great deal in the last year or so. I think you are correct in realizing that even if the rent stayed the same - the demographics you need for a thriving business are not going to be in downtown PA. Good luck in your new location."

Worth noting is that Vintage's business is going to Mountain View. The demographics are not the issue, but the rent which was hiked up, and that alone was a higher hurdle.

What about University Art. Also a demographics issue, No, again it is the economics of higher and higher rents.

But the real issue is of course TEARING DOWN old buildings and replacing them with glass and gloss.

Other than ice cream and yogurt, is there any new retail that has satisfied a real "need" downtown, in recent history?


Thank you for pointing out how TECH sucks the air out of micro-retailers in Palo Alto with online competition, and now with the help of Palo Alto City Council.

Worst than Walmart.

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm

@ Jack - I lived on Homer St, downtown in the '60s, then on Waverly & Bryant. It was great-indie shops & restaurants, a sewing machine & yardage store, plenty of movies, dry cleaners, PA Clinic, Liddicoats, & a real grocery store on Lytton Ave (Purity, which moved to Stanford Shopping Center.) I didn't have or need a car & worked after school at T&C Village.
PA resists parking meters partly because of imagined competition with free parking at Stanford & T&C. Actually, the size & scope of SSC overwhelms anything downtown has to offer retail shoppers. That bird has flown. In order to preserve, if that's even what PA wants, it's downtown as a pedestrian-friendly area supporting needs of residents and enticing visitors from other towns to stroll & drop some money, there has to be a moratorium on new construction until a plan is in place with a limit on total office size & space.
Businesses with 50-500 employees succeed outside of downtown. Law firms, VC companies, marketing, accounting, tech, etc, don't need town center locations. They thrive on Sand Hill Rd, PA Square, Hanover-Porter, El Camino, etc. Keep a downtown post office. San Mateo, Burlingame, Redwood City, San Carlos, Menlo Park, Mountain View - all have post offices downtown, some in very old buildings. Preserve and update theaters. People come downtown for entertainment & a meal return to shop the stores they walked by the night before. Turning downtown Palo Alto into big office buildings won't save your town.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm

To be fair, there is more than just the 1 artist fair in PA. Two - by the same two companies that run the same two fairs in Menlo, Los Altos, Mtn Vw, etc. Plus the international music day/weekend. May Fete parade. Farmers' Market every weekend. Special events - MLK day, other city hall events.

Part of the problem for Vintage is that they are not on the main street - even though it is half a block off --- it is off. And it is not a heavily traveled foot street...let alone they are down off of lower University foot traffic is depleted naturally. In theory - given their product offering, a location near the Stanford Theater may have provided for a better set of potential customers (people who enjoy old movies, vintage clothing, etc.).

And even the last post from vintage above states that their foot traffic dropped off in 2013. Combine higher rent and lower business and you make the right decision to move. And then Vintage also states the obvious - brick & mortar vs. the Internet. eBay certainly has put a dent into any business like Vintage.

One can say greed, another can say market rates. However it is fitting to see the occasional empty store fronts because the landlord overestimated his/her luck on higher paying rents. I think one that stands out is the former location for Palo Alto Bikes. Then bathworks. Then tech space. Then a mostly closed art gallery. With plenty of down time in between. Should have kept PA bikes.

University Art is not strictly about higher rents. One of their priorities is to purchase their own building. They were outbid on their current building in 2008. And the current situation is that they must move out for 2 years while the building is retrofitted. The building is not going to be torn down. True that they cannot find a reasonably priced rent - and that is a major factor in their decision. But they are also in a position to meet their first priority to purchase a building in Redwood City - with parking. I'm a loyal customer and I'll go to their new store.

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Edit above - "...SSC overwhelms ... downtown... has to offer " CHAIN STORE " retail shoppers." Sorry.

Posted by Carol Feinstein, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I too am sad to see University Art and the Annex leaving Palo Alto. I will patronize them in Redwood City. I am a 40-year resident of Palo Alto and I've never seen change so rapid.

I used to enjoy strolling and shopping downtown, especially during the holidays. I would inevitably end up finding just the right gifts at University Art/Annex. Now, downtown isn't stroll-able. I like Menlo Park, Los Altos, Burlingame, and even Redwood City. Everyone has already mentioned the paucity of parking and the increase in traffic. I know progress happens and we can't expect to live in the past, but I do think that our town is losing a lot of its unique character and home-grown essence in favor of techy preferences and the press for new development.

People need to wake up and think before voting for the same group of insiders in every city Council and School Board (a stepping stone) election: otherwise we have no one to blame but ourselves. PS: I do not blame "greedy" landlords; they have to make a living and they have big expenses for land, building maintenance, and taxes.

Posted by empire vintage, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 19, 2013 at 5:58 pm

ok, well Im not sure that the increases of retail spaces that I hear of for commercial & retail spaces from our shops own 35% to 50% for a indie architect salvage in San Mateo is "fair market Value". Geeze, what would happen if that happened to your apartment your family members rent, or your mortgage, car payment or utility bills? Yeah, It would make you mad, and have you stand up and say "wait a minute... DID YOU KNOW...." so here we are now saying just that.

BTW, I said Palo Alto was greedy and people are twisting up words in my eyes. I never said my landlord was greedy, in fact he gave me a chance to have my small business here, and for that I am very grateful. What has happened over the years is not his fault, your fault or mine. Its just what is happening here. That is my point of view, hey at least give me that. I know the building owners have many costs, but guess what???? We pay for all of those costs in my month to month lease. Triple net lease is king here in Palo Alto.

In fact, any building maintenance like changing my furnace filter I have paid for and done myself. Every two -three months because my staff & I was feeling getting sick, talked to him about it- he said had it "checked" and it was fine. Then, I learned that there was NOT even a filter in it, and had not been for the entire 9 months before I was feeling sick running the heater & A/C in the summertime...I even went as far as replacing his, because well, I frankly really like the ladies that work in his space. One month he even asked me, "well you aren't just putting the expensive filters on your side now, are you?" ( LOL, this is serious but now as I reflect back it strikes me as ha ha funny) so in my eyes the triple net is just another way to get more money and pay the nice relator for his service. Just in case your not sure what a triple net lease is... let a reliable source help you out.

triple net defenetion per wikipedia:
In United States real estate business, "Net Lease" is a term used to signify a lease structure in which the tenant or lessee is responsible for paying a portion of or all of the common expenses related to real estate ownership, in addition to base rent. Real estate related expenses associated with ownership are divided into three categories referred to as the three nets which are property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.[1] The rent collected under a net lease is net of expenses. It therefore tends to be lower than, for instance, rent charged under a gross lease. Net lease types include single net, double net, triple net and even bondable triple net leases. The term "net lease" is often used as a shorthand expression when referring to NNN leases.
An NNN Lease is a net lease, structured as a turnkey investment property in which the tenant is responsible for paying the three major expenses associated with commercial real estate ownership.[2] "NNN" stands for "Net-Net-Net", is pronounced "Triple Net" and represents the three most common, consequential real estate related expenses:
N - Property Tax
N - Insurance
N - Maintenance
The rent the landlord receives from the tenant is in effect net of expenses.[3][4]

Thank you again for being a such a nice, safe forum for us all to express ourselves and opinions. We are all entitled to them, I just explained what has happened to my business and how I feel. I like to read the feedback and see other peoples views and what they are thinking about this subject, because it is important to me. Heartbroken as I have been loyal and loving to Palo Alto since 1988 when I first moved here.

shop local and support your local favorite shops, eateries and venues. They ALL are in danger of becoming a fading memory of the times that Palo Alto was a bustling, profitable and fun place for everyone.

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Crescent Park Dad,

"The building is not going to be torn down."

and you are? The Magic Merlin of Palo Alto who is at the top of the hill with all the wisdom and insider knowledge?

Carol Feinstein,

"PS: I do not blame "greedy" landlords; they have to make a living and they have big expenses for land, building maintenance, and taxes."

I do not blame the landlords either - they are as replaceable as the small retailers and the buildings. They just last longer because for some reason they have more money after the expenses, land, maintenance, and everything else like funding elections.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:11 pm

I hate to see the nice little shops having to leave Palo Alto, but I also hate the fact that the other places have to hire lower paid more incompetent help, waiters that are clumsy or can barely communicate, cooks that are not so good, janitors that do not keep places clean, all so a small business can continue to pay up most of its revenue to the landlords. Right down the line everything becomes worse, and an above average community gets below average retail experiences.

I can understand how landlords don't want to feel they are losing money, but how much do we have to give to business before things just become unstable? Tax breaks enough so the local infrastructure wears out. I liked it when we were comfortably in the zone that things were taken care of and corporations and businesses paid their taxes and received a fair profit.

Posted by Palo Alto Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 20, 2013 at 12:32 am

It's the same ole, same ole, with the hippies complaining about PA's progression into a destination spot and urbanized. It's the same hippies who complain about politicians, world leaders and international bike races coming to town.

I grew up here in the 70s and was fortunate enough to be able to afford a house and raise my children here in 2005. Not many Paly alums can afford to return here to live even if they had grown up in large houses in Old PA and Crescent Park.

I recall back in the day, downtown had health food stores and I cannot recall what else because it was not a destination spot. Palo Alto was a bunch of intellectual hippies. But change happens. Posters who threaten to shop elsewhere, go ahead. I could never understand how little shops downtown could afford to pay rent and the clothing stores downtown that have or will close are not city clothes. Palo Alto has progressed into more of a city and our downtown is a destination for non-residents. Everyone wishes they could afford to live here.

Re Lisa Jadwin's posting: Stapleton's Florist is still there but called Michaela's. Michaela and the owner worked for Ms. Stapleton (RIP) and she only would sell to them. Rapp's Shoes? Who buys at shoe stores anymore? Varsity Theatre - cannot understand why that's not still around - a great place to hang and hear live bands. Keystone has closed too, so perhaps people find other entertainment outlets. Swensen's was also past it's time, with other treats more in vogue (too old-fashioned. The only Swensen's nearby is in S.F.).

I will truly miss House of Bagels - the only authentic bagels around. Hope they can find a home here or nearby.

And I really love that downtown parking is still free.

Posted by K, a resident of University South
on Dec 20, 2013 at 1:25 am

It's seems hopeless for artist in this town, now. I write University South as my neighborhood, but I'm just not so sure what it is anymore. In the name of "progress" and "historical rehabilitation", they ripped all the lovely ivy off this wonderful old landmark building that I had hoped to have a painting studio. It was one of the most heart-breaking experiences to live through as they hacked down all the beautiful plants one morning. What took many decades to grow into a lovely garden in the center of town, was destroyed in just a few hours. A lot of the humming birds and other little creatures still swoop back to where their nest were, but all their nest are gone. All the butterflies are gone. They did this to "rehab" the building for rich corporate people, I'm sure. They have completely demolished most of the first floor including the bicycle room (horrid to live through, concrete demolition, asbestos removal, etc.)Now they are doing electrical test to install new wiring, I guess, for rich new tenants business as usual and I've got to make do with 31 AMPS max on two fuses. Yes, fuses! Brrrrr!

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 20, 2013 at 4:35 am

K - Most ivies are very detrimental to buildings. The roots & tendrils invade the underlying material and damage mortar.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 20, 2013 at 8:49 am

Resident - read the article. Read the quotes from the Uni Arts folks. What did they say was the reason that they had to move out for two years? Sit down and relax, take a breath.

Posted by AnnexShopper, a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2013 at 2:04 pm

This morning while shopping at The Annex, all the customers were commenting to one another about how sick they are to lose University Art and the Annex from downtown Palo Alto. Where will we buy actual, non-tech gifts? Shady Lane is threatened, too. It seems that downtown Palo Alto is just becoming one big expensive food court! In the store today, the female shoppers were in agreement that developer greed seems to be the driving force behind it all. Chip Kelly, Jim Baer and Roxy Rapp were all mentioned by name as villains of the day. Their vision to create beautiful buildings hsa been replaced by a reputation of dollar worship.

Posted by Those Greedy Landlords, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 20, 2013 at 2:50 pm

"Greedy landlords" - whatever happened to those altruistic landlords of yesteryear, who owned property for the benefit of the community and set rents to what low-profit stores could pay? Let's see - either they sold out to the greedy landlords, or they never existed. I would love to meet some people who would take a steep discount on selling their home to sell to the "right people" for the benefit of their neighbors. It is funny how people think around here.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2013 at 9:34 pm

"Their vision to creat beautiful buildings has been replaced..."
Roxy Rapp put in The Cheesecake Factory on University Ave, rubber stamped
by the ARB and staff.

@Those Greedy Landlords
Putting in the largest possible structure on a site using bonuses,credits, exemptions,under parked and out of scale with the surroundings is driven by $$$ as well as disrespect for the aesthetics and environment. Also a few years ago, I don't know the details, but not long after Mr. Coppola had remodeled his restaurant, he suddenly left over night,suddenly closing down the restaurant and pulling down the exterior sign.

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Crescent Park Dad,

I was referring to your comment that the University Art building will not be sold and torn down, how do you know that it won't?

Relax? You suggest I relax, ok.

I just want to say that your trying to convince VIntage that the economics of high rent and glass and gloss were not the reason she is moving to Mountain VIew made me laugh.


Thank you for your posts, they are the personal stories being lost in this "revitalization" of downtown. I hope the weekly will publish your story.

After the last of what we know is gone, downtown merchants association should be disbanded, and developers should certainly not be using the chamber of commerce to promote further glass and gloss.

Posted by @ Palo Alto Native, a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm

"Everyone wishes they could afford to live here."

I'm laughing so hard right now. I know, Palo Altans like to think this (maybe to justify the ridiculous mortgages they are paying to live there), but I don't think it's as true as you think it is. I would NOT live in PA, and I'm not alone. Many may want to live there, but many others prefer the surrounding communities. PA is nice to visit once in a while, for sure, but not to live.

Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm

@Palo Alto native,

"Many may want to live there, but many others prefer the surrounding communities. PA is nice to visit once in a while, for sure, but not to live."

That's true. There is definitely more value in other communities for young families.

Palo Alto will eventually lose the sense of community to the cold glass downtown. It will be bars, and food court, tourists and rich people for whom money is no object.

Cheesy has taken over. We are living a Ken de Leon ad.

Posted by resident4, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I only go to downtown PA if I have to. For eating, downtown Mt. View is a better value and it's easier to park there.

Posted by Richard, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2014 at 10:57 pm

I wonder if eventually, this trend will actually cause residential property values to decrease, as downtown Palo Alto gradually becomes a less desirable place to live. Fewer small shops, fewer individualized retail services, replaced with chain stores, banks, and a few upscale restaurants. Ultimately not as great a place to call home.

Posted by Ahem, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2014 at 12:12 am

Every current member of the Palo Alto City Council must go. Clean Sweep!

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 14, 2014 at 6:49 am

Resident4 ... are you kidding, it is much easier to park in Palo Alto. And there are not as many obnoxious people in the downtown area as there are in Mountain View, though there are more homeless.

Ahem ... I agree with your sentiment, but I think the only people that will run for City Council will be the same kinds of people there now.

I don't hold much hope for Palo Alto turning back into a nice place to live. As they say, it is what it is.

This is a turning point for Palo Alto, pretty soon it will just me money that lives here, while there are less nice things, more noise, and people will realize that aside from schools it is the central dump of the area. I expect real estate values will hold up though.

Posted by Empire vintage, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 19, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Well, im glad Palo Alto is changing. It forced us to change our business and relocate to downtown Mtn. View

Best business move ever( for us). Its a bummer everyone can buy all the items on university and badically support the giant corpoarations... A far cry from Palo Alto's independent business start ///way back in the day!

Shop local. Shop indie. Farewell Palo Alto, we really do miss you all! But ya know Mt. View night life is poppin!!!

Ps. Its only 5 miles door to door if you need a vintage shop clothing fix or a unique costume!

Posted by captain howdy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 19, 2014 at 5:12 pm

fewer stores lowers property value? that would be news in Atherton
..and woodside....and portala valley...etc

Posted by Resident5, a resident of University South
on Mar 20, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Except for downtown PA residents, access to University Art should be much easier after they move to Redwood City.

It's not like such changes never happened before. Palo Alto changed from a college town with a variety of stores to one dominated by restaurants. Now it is changing to a downtown dominated by high-tech startups and venture capital firms. I wish it had not changed. Heck, I wish downtown was the same as in the early 1970s, but if wishes were horses... It shows how silly the whole not-in-my-backyard approach was in an urban area. Our City Council could have done a better job running the place, but we got the dysfunctional city government - and the increasingly sterile downtown - we deserved.

It's good to see small businesses from Palo Alto finding new homes in better places, although their being left little alternative is most unfortunate. Mountain View has the downtown that Palo Alto could have had if it was well run - much better parking and a far more lively and vibrant scene overall. Not to mention more small business friendly.

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