Around Town | February 8, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 8, 2013

Around Town

ON EDGE ... Grace Hopper once famously remarked: "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission." The Sand Hill Property Company certainly hopes that's the case. The Redwood City-developer angered many Palo Altans last fall, when it demolished a historic building at the former Edgewood Plaza shopping center on Embarcadero Road, in violation of its agreement with the city and area residents. Sand Hill had been involved in years of negotiations with area residents about upgrading and redeveloping the dilapidated plaza — a rare example of a Joseph Eichler-developed commercial center. Last fall, after the two sides finally reached an agreement, the City Council approved a zone change that would allow Sand Hill to relocate one of the existing three retail buildings, build 10 homes and a grocery store, and create a 0.2-acre park. The "planned community" zone also required the developer to preserve two "historically significant" retail structures, one of which would be rehabilitated in place while the other would be disassembled, relocated and rehabilitated. But instead of disassembling that building, the applicant surprised the city by demolishing it without bothering to get any permits or approvals. After fielding complaints from residents, the city in September issued a "stop order" on the project. Now, city planners are recommending that the city require the developer to do an additional environmental-impact report, reflecting the new scope of the project. Staff is also recommending that the city allow Sand Hill to proceed with the construction of the grocery store and the rehabilitation of the building it didn't demolish (the recommendation would put Sand Hill's plan to build housing on hold until compliance issues are resolved). Sand Hill, for its part, has agreed to completely rebuild the structure it destroyed, though this would now be done with new materials rather than ones retained from the prior building. The council will have a chance to reflect on the staff recommendations, consider requiring new "public benefits" to make up for the demolished original building and offer its own views on the matter at its meeting on Monday.

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