The proposal by Pollock Financial Group of Portola Valley is the latest in a recent wave of large office developments targeting Palo Alto. The application has come in less than a year since the City Council approved a similar project at the intersection of Lytton Avenue and Alma Street and at a time when the council is wrestling with two much larger office proposals for 27 University Ave. and 395 Page Mill Road.
The Pollock project, which the council is scheduled to discuss Monday evening, targets a site that for decades has served as a surface parking lot for VTA's bus riders. The agency placed the site on the market about two years ago and recently chose Pollock as the buyer. The developer is looking to build a four-story building with a three-level underground parking garage.
For this vision to become reality, the city would have to rezone the site to a "planned community" zone — a designation that allows developers to exceed existing density and height regulations in exchange for "public benefits." Under Pollock's proposal, these benefits would include the widening of Page Mill Road to create a dedicated right-turn lane onto El Camino Real; the dedication of the widened portion of Page Mill to the city; an upgrade to the pedestrian tunnel under El Camino Real, near the Mayfield Soccer Complex; and a contribution of $750,000 toward upgrading the lights on the soon-to-be-renovated commercial stretch of California Avenue.
The applicant has also offered to widen sidewalks beyond the minimum design standards for El Camino and to purchase Eco passes and Caltrain passes for all employees at the site for 10 years. In the application, Pollock also argues that the project itself is a benefit that would "further advance Palo Alto as a regional and national leader."
The council's discussion on Monday will be a study session, which means that there will be no votes or decisions made.
Though the Pollock project has yet to undergo a public review, it has already generated opposition from one neighbor. Jeffrey Morris, manager of Morris Page Mill (MPM), the owner of an adjacent parcel at 2701 Page Mill, wrote in a public letter that his company and the residents of the Sunrise Assistant Living Facility, which occupies the parcel, have "strong objections" and plan to oppose the Pollock proposal. The project, the letter claims, is too dense and is incompatible with the neighborhood. Namely, it would diminish the residents' views, add traffic congestion and "impose an unreasonable burden on the residents of the Sunrise facility," Morris wrote.