Uploaded: Thu, Jul 3, 2014, 9:55 am
High-tech hub proposed for Palo Alto's Varsity Theatre
Historic building to house new cafe, 'co-working space' under latest proposal for 456 University Ave.
Plans for downtown's historic Varsity Theatre took another turn this week when building owner Chop Keenan submitted a proposal to turn the University Avenue landmark into a cafe and co-working space for various high-tech companies.
New plans submitted by Keenan list as the project applicant the high-tech giant SAP, which operates a Palo Alto campus on Hillview Avenue. The plans state that HANAhaus, as the new space will be called, "will combine aspects of a public cafe, a co-working space and a public forum." It will include an assembly space for more than 100 seats and while it will be "open to all," it will "cater specifically to the needs of the entrepreneurial community with a focus on innovation in technology and software applications."
The application brands the new space as a "living laboratory that will explore innovations in the future of work, where dramatic changes in workplace technology, social demographics, cultural trends and globalization are fundamentally changing the meaning, manner and the places in which people work, play, create, connect and relax."
The 1927 building on University and Kipling Street most recently housed Borders Books, which moved in in 1994 and left in 2011 after Borders declared bankruptcy. Last year, Keenan proposed to turn the building into an accelerator for Samsung.
The project still includes a major renovation of the historic building and a modification of the first-floor space for creation of a new cafe, a public gathering space and meeting rooms, new exterior doors and windows, according to the submitted plans. The proposal includes no additions to the existing floor area.
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm
To: DeJa Vu, Mark Weiss, Vanessa, Lookout, Silly, Anon, Distressed, Ahem, Longtime Resident, JS, Resident, Eejit, Lookout, Jaa, Kay, Save Our Retail, Resident:
You all have captured the development elites trying to gain more exemptions to change the authorized use for this facility. Excellent! Thank you for a great list of reasons to band together and shut-down the overdevelopment of office space in Palo Alto. I am with you all.
I fondly recall my days of youth at the Varsity. Here's the deal Chop: you can only use this space for retail under the regs. That's it. No exceptions for you. Second, let us pass an additional ordinance that places this building as a protected historic site whose large interior space can only be converted to a public venue for movies and live theater. If he wants to sell because of that, cool with US! Instead of spending money on the City Hall upgrade, let's make this property of the City of Palo Alto with a charter that this facility can only be used for public purposes including that of a space for art, plays, theaters, movies.
Next: "Ingeborg," NOT SO. We can and will stop this urbanization of Palo Alto. We are not putting "blanket bans" on business development. If a private owner wants to "upgrade" her/his building (that is already zoned for a commercial site); no worries. They can tear it down and build new. Believe me, I'd love to see most of El Camino Real in Palo Alto tore down and start with some fresh buildings that are environmentally responsible and less of the Bomb Shelter mode I was raised in during the Cold War. HOWEVER, they can not build UP - no more exemptions. We do not need more employees/large scale companies in Palo Alto.
The desire of firms to be here (silicon valley prestige address, weather, neighborhoods, schools, and proximity of the high tech triad - venture capitalists, Law Firms, and other Start-ups/Tech firms for labor talent) is understandable. However, not at the price of our QUALITY of life. We long term Palo Altains remember quite clearly we did very well without Steven Jobs and the rest before the tech revolution. And if if all went belly-up tomorrow, we would not only survive, but prosper without dense population and traffic.
So my pro-business development friend, please know there is a set of us here before and after the Silicon Boom - who have kept our heads and still know the value of Palo Alto as Quality over quantity. This will never change.
As noted numerous times before, push the success of Silicon Valley out to other communities and States in this great union. For example in California, we have the East Bay (in particular), East Palo Alto, Stockton, Sacramento, Oakland, RICHMOND, Fresno, East LA - areas that really need the money and neighborhood upgrades! Professionalize those populations as compared to importing even more professionals from primarily Asia. We can not absorb even 1/100th of those 1.3 and 1.2 billion Indians and Chinese - or for that matter any cultural group before helping to employ our Americans, first and other legal residents, too. As also noted before, when I went to Gunn High in the early 70s, 3% Asians. Today, that are the majority at Gunn High by their own website demographics. Please note, I would say the same thing if it was all blue eyed blonds from Finland. We employ Americans first and then push our model out to the world and help employ those populations, too (including regime change from their own youthful populations that have access to the web and see how the rest of the Western World lives!). This is what really scares their elders.
With respect to our own California war-zone communities sited above, Silicon Valley industry can be both a method to accelerate and improve transaction efficiencies AND also an industry to transform a cycle of property (and its attendant dysfunctional family systems) into an educated, home invested, prosperous, and peaceful communities once ripe with the opposite conditions.