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Historic Eichler building demolished at Edgewood Plaza

Original post made on Sep 21, 2012

One of two historic Eichler commercial structures scheduled for renovation at Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center in Palo Alto appears to have been largely splintered and hauled away, angering the residents who fought in court to have the buildings saved.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 21, 2012, 8:15 AM

Comments (87)

Posted by Layne, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 21, 2012 at 9:44 am

The complex was an ugly eyesore for decades. Perhaps those that are so motivated with the notion of preservation should have been more active with efforts and pressure to better maintain the buildings over the years. Now, in the eleventh hour, you wish to dictate what the property owner who has made a significant investment how he should conduct his business. If the few critics of this development wanted to preserve this site, or incurred the cost of relocating, then you should have put your money where your mouth is and bought the property and/or buildings. Otherwise the owner has every right to do as he wishes in this case. I'm confident that the vast majority of our citizens more than welcome the new development.


Posted by Old Palo Alto, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

One of the workers accidentally leaned against it. Renovate, really? That building was a construction nightmare and fire hazard.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:18 am

Anyone who has remodeled a home can tell you there will be surprises that need to be dealt with when the walls are opened up. Anyone who has totally remodeled an Eichler was probably forced to upgrade things to comply with current building codes.

Keep in mind:
This plaza has been an eyesore for years.
The structures were not up to code.
The existing materials could not be reused for safety reasons.
If the walls were not original, they really did not need to be preserved.

I'm assuming the builder will build a structure which is in keeping with the spirit of Eichlers while using current building code and ADA compliant features.


Posted by Andrew, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

Thank God! I was so happy when I drove by and saw it largely demolished. I was disappointed that parts of it were still standing. What a terrible eyesore protected for too long by stupid laws and codicils. With zero historic value - you'll never hear, "I came to Palo Alto to see the shopping center designed by Joseph Eichler." Never.

But wait, now the mental midgets on the City council are probably going to get an injunction and stop the construction of something useful, the neighborhood has been pleading for 10+ years - a nice market and shopping center! But instead, it's so upsetting to see the ugly crap demolished, that let's stop and slow everything down. I was so happy when I heard the market might be up before the new year. . . no chance now.


Posted by David, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:45 am

Hey - if you're happy that the project is moving forward, send an email to the architectural review board, requesting that they do not file an injunction and stop construction. If anything pay them a bonus for finishing early. Let's get this blight out of our neighborhood and have something nice in its stead.

Their email address is here:

arb@cityofpaloalto.org


Posted by sue, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:45 am

That place was ratty & ugly 20 years ago. Glad it's gone. Hard to rehab those things & nothing about them is very practical or eco-friendly.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:48 am

Proving once more that a developer's commitments mean nothing in Palo Alto. There will be some for-camera hand wringing at City Hall, but no hassle for the developer.

But don't try this when remodeling your own home, folks.


Posted by DCD, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:48 am

Glad it's gone! Preserve those eyesores? Crazy. Way out of date in materials and structure, thus not reasonable to re-use anyway. Much be such a hassle for the developers to have to constantly explain themselves.


Posted by I, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:52 am

In addition to building a better shopping center, the State of California and Palo Alto should make a nicer entryway into Palo Alto from 101. It looks horrible!


Posted by Neighbor for Demolition, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

Diane Sekimura is simply stupid in years of effort trying to keeping the complex in the 1950's. She does not represent neighbors that actually live near the complex. I now feel the real needs that we have to speak up instaed of letting her "represent" the neighborhood. Keep the structure and materials that are so out of date and spending money to keep it old is simply stupid. There is no other way of putting it.


Posted by AM, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:06 am

Good riddance! As a close neighbor I am SO glad that construction has begun. This area has been an eyesore for years!


Posted by Duveneck Resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:20 am

Finally its gone!! Although I didn't want to get into the middle of all the controversy, I'm so glad to see that it is now gone and we will finally have a nice place to come to in our own neighborhood. Please ARB, let them continue. There are more of us out here that want the eyesore gone than you think. We just don't want to get into the controversy with our neighbors.


Posted by Albert K Henning, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:31 am

To curmudgeon:

You say, 'don't try this when remodeling your own home, folks.'

Speaking from experience: we bought a home in 1984 which had had renovations done without City inspections and permits. When *we* went to sell the home, however, it ended up we needed to retroactively obtain the permits. In that process, we discovered the previous homeowner had performed some dangerous electrical work, and we had to re-do it.

Tze's explanations sound valid, insofar as we did our own renovation over 10 years ago, and all kinds of things emerged during the process. OTOH, there is some validity to the plaintiff's complaints. Tze could have saved himself quite a bit of upcoming headache by using better communication with the condo association, and he will kick himself for not doing so.

The Edgewood Center was an eyesore. It did not serve my needs, although clearly some viable businesses were located there (meaning at least some people's need were met). I am looking forward to the completion of the work, and being able to walk to a grocery store which I hope will be worth going to (as opposed to Albertson's). I hope the finished buildings will be an homage to the Eichler tradition, while meeting modern codes, fulfilling handicapped access laws, and creating a vital a vibrant commercial meeting place.


Posted by Cur Mudgeon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:37 am

If the Edgewood Shopping Center Plaza has historic architectural value, then so do almost all Palo Alto schools and the former Watkins-Johnson buildings in the Stanford Industrial Park that were designed by Emmons and Jones in the mid-century modern style--industrial Eichlers all, with huge single pane glass windows and oiled luan paneling in the executive offices, open steel beam construction and flat or slightly pitched tar and gravel roofs, and energy wasteful.
The WJ buildings fell to the wrecking ball in 1998-1999. All of them.


Posted by Wendy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

Whoa! Historic preservation does not mean that the "eyesore" is preserved, but that the buildings and the design elements be restored, brought up to code (within the confines of Federal historic preservation codes) and in this case, be incorporated into the larger development scope. This would be in keeping with the Eichler homes and design elements in the adjoining neighborhood. It is about retaining a neighborhood aesthetic, mass and scale and architectural cohesiveness. I would expect nothing less than the developer be required to reconstruct the building within the approved design of the project and not be allowed to construct something else of a different style or mass and scale. Since they can no longer renovate the structure or restore it they need to reconstruct it exactly as it was and exactly within the project as was approved.


Posted by Michelin, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:54 am

I've written to the Architectural Review Board expressing my support to move forward with the construction, imploring them not to entertain an injunction. I agree that the shopping center has been an eyesore for far too long, and I was ecstatic to see construction begin.


Posted by Not Nimby, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:59 am

This shopping center was an ugly eyesore and I saw no historic value in it. Nothing needed to be saved. I was surprised that some folks in the neighborhood would spend energy and money to sue the developer.


Posted by jamie, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Work fast, guys...


Posted by Robert Smith, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm

We live in an Eichler house nearby and did the majority of our grocery shopping at the Lucky/Albertsons. Many people in the community did not shop there, and overall the shopping center has been an economic failure since it was built. Due in part to this lack of community support (in dollars not speeches before the City Council), the center became very dilapidated. The only difference between the center and the typical 1950's run-down strip mall is the name "Joseph Eichler". This is not an architectural or cultural treasure, it is architecture that never attracted people to shop there. It is time to be realistic about this situation. Let's try something else and see if it works.


Posted by loves the JCC, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm

So glad to hear that this eyesore is gone--no need to rebuild it in a similar style. Nothing impressive or special about it or the entire center.
There is little to nothing that is historic or architecturaly special in Palo Alto. But this being Palo alto, we have to have something special, so we latched on to Eichler and his mediocre homes/buildings. We have turned Eichler into a diety and worship everything he built--othrewise Palo Alto would be like any other town.
Maybe they can build a statue at the entrance to the rebuilt center of Eichler and his minions can come and worship him there--hopefully the tourists will not get in the may.
Good bye and good riddance to this pile of rubbish


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Thank goodness it is gone, at least most of it. Ugly doesn't even begin to describe it.

Eichler buildings were cheaply constructed and they cut corners whenever they could. For example, burying gas pipes in patio concrete instead of placing them 2 feet below grade. Or using bare wires to connect ungrounded bathroom outlets. This is speaking from experience in remodeling an Eichler.

Move on please.


Posted by lazlo, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Once again it shows that palo altans could care less about history. Nope, it's about the almighty dollar and greed. Look at the hate filled negative comments left by posters. And then we have one of the city's outsourced private contractors working for the planning department as a senior planner for the project who claims no responsibility. Welcome to the new Keene and Klein city government of outsourced city contractors and where no one is held accountable. Keene and Klein's motto is apparently "tear it down and don't worry about the consequences" and if someone complains create a "Blue Ribbon" committee to look into it. Ignorance is Bliss!


Posted by Greg, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

The issue is not what y'all think about the buildings, but what the developer agreed to do with the city and with the residents who settled with him. The stated plan, for months if not years now, was to move one of the buildings, not demolish it. Now the developer is saying, "sorry, I changed my mind."

As I understand it, the stated plan is also to renovate and re-open a grocery store on the location -- which would be a benefit to the whole neighborhood. I for one certainly plan to shop there if it materializes.

But given what has happened so far, what protects us from the developer changing his mind again and saying, "sorry, we decided to build 20 houses instead and forget about the grocery store?"


Posted by Eric S., a resident of Southgate
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I grew up very near this place, and now live a couple of miles away. I have to concur with the vast majority who have commented, that this place needed to go. I don't think the day will ever come when residents will say "I miss that place. What were they thinking when the tore down that beautiful place?"


Posted by sarah, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

It'll turn out to be a 'mistake'. Like taking down the trees on
California Avenue. Right!


Posted by Skeptical, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Most of the comments above are an interesting demonstration that people generally just create arguments to back up their emotional reactions. Greg hits the nail on the head by pointing out that there appears to be a clear violation of an major agreement here, and people should see this as a problem. I know many don't like Eichler architecture, and that's fine. But why celebrate something like this.

Read the history. The neighborhood is the main group that has to be appeased here. The CC&Rs give them essentially veto power, and they agreed to development under a particular set of conditions (including limiting # of homes, restoration, ...).

So this is wrong, and those celebrating or otherwise expressing glee over this clear breach of agreement should be a bit embarassed.

An analogy -- would you be happy if your candidate lost a local election, but then some sneaky people fraudulantly produced fake votes (e.g., from the deceased) to make your candidate the "winner"? (I suspect many might, but most would keep their glee private, while publically condemning voter fraud.)

Just a few thoughts...


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I am pleased to see that it is gone, but I am worried that the replacement may turn out to be as ugly as Alma Plaza.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm

lazlo - I haven't read any "hate filled" comments on this thread, just comments by people who are glad that a dilapidated eyesore is gone and that are hoping that the rebuild of the structure will continue in a timely manner.

While a violation of the original agreement (and perhaps a very good example of poor communication) it does not sound like there was much of the building that could be saved and reused because of building codes. What they could save, they did. I've remodeled a number of homes and have been forced to replace things with "historic" value, such as windows, due to Title 24 and building codes.


Posted by Andrew, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Skeptical: Totally disagree. The ARB and City hall have been negligent in not declaring it blighted and voiding the CC&R's to promote new development YEARS ago. The comments you are seeing are the result of being held hostage by a small group of people who are "religious" about Eichlers. The other guy got it right when he said 20 years NOBODY will say "Wow, I miss that shopping center." It was a blight, good riddance, let's focus on some stuff that actually matters


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm

" Tze could have saved himself quite a bit of upcoming headache by using better communication with the condo association, and he will kick himself for not doing so."

What condo association? Last time I looked (last Saturday) there were no condos anywhere near there. Get things right.

The point is the developer egregiously violated his building permit issued by the city, but he will almost certainly get away with it. As you testified, private citizens are treated differently.


Posted by Scott, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I used to live a block away and shopped at the Produce store in the old building that has been torn down. I also shopped at Lucky's (a chain I used to love) until it became an Albertsons (a chain I dislike.) I was sad to see the businesses go, and I hope the current residents get some new businesses in there before too long.
I also must agree with others who've expressed their architectural opinions here. I, too, find Eichler's ugly and I won't miss these particular structures.
That being said, if the developer promised to restore the existing buildings as part of the agreement to allow his development, then he should be held to his promise. If we allow developers to succeed and make money by ignoring their commitments, we'll see more and worse violations in the future.
I don't want to make any assumptions about the facts in this case. I only hope the city investigates this thoroughly and holds the developer to all of his commitments.
Those who now cheer "the destruction of this eyesore" because they never liked it, should have stood up earlier and had their say about it. Instead they were lazy and allowed other, more involved neighbors do the work and influence the process.
Those who have expressed their approval for the developer's actions, regardless of the legality, and want us to contact the ARB to influence the process should think twice. If developers are allowed to get away with shady practices, we'll all regret it when someone comes along a couple of years from now promising to preserve your neighborhood and instead builds a new eyesore that we'll just have to live with.


Posted by Michelin, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm

To Scott of Menlo Park:

"I don't want to make any assumptions about the facts in this case. I only hope the city investigates this thoroughly and holds the developer to all of his commitments.

Those who now cheer "the destruction of this eyesore" because they never liked it, should have stood up earlier and had their say about it. Instead they were lazy and allowed other, more involved neighbors do the work and influence the process.

Those who have expressed their approval for the developer's actions, regardless of the legality, and want us to contact the ARB to influence the process should think twice. If developers are allowed to get away with shady practices, we'll all regret it when someone comes along a couple of years from now promising to preserve your neighborhood and instead builds a new eyesore that we'll just have to live with."

Maybe you should refrain from making assumptions about the involvement or commitment of those who call this place an "eyesore." Calling neighbors "lazy" is a big assumption...

Also, please don't assume that those who contact the ARB to influence the process are unaware of the ramifications re: developers and their "shady practices"...nor are they condoning shady practices, if the actions are indeed shady.


Posted by Skeptical, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm

@Andrew -- I respectfully submit that you exemplify the point I was trying to make. You are basically saying it is OK that the developer ignore his clear legal commitments because you have an opinion "ARB and City hall have been negligent in not declaring it blighted and voiding the CC&R's to promote new development YEARS ago." (Not to mention that if this were true, why could no one get this to happpen over the last 20 of so years?)

The CC&Rs are meant to give the neighborhood folks say over what happens in their neighborhood. They've wanted, and they agreed to new development. And now it appears that the other party has broken the agreement.

As Scott and others point out, it's short-sighted (and unprincipled, I'd add) to celebrate a someone's breaking of a clear, mutually-agreed-upon, legal agreement, just because you prefer the outcome in that particular case. This is the start of a slippery slope that bodes ill for civil society.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Skeptical - I don't think that demolishing an ugly old building "bodes ill for civil society". But this may be a case of the contractor realizing the building was structurally unsound and could not be brought up to code using the existing materials (I've had contractors make that decision on a job site without consulting me). Or it may be a case of ask forgiveness instead of permission.

In any event, I hope they move forward in a timely manner to finish this project, the store has been vacant for 9-10 years!


Posted by Wendy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

To expand on my previous comment, there are approved design documents. They were required in order to get the P & Z approvals and the demolition and building permits. I have not seen them. Have any of you? Have you seen how the historic buildings are going to be incorporated into the overall design? I would assume that the neighborhood did see the design documents, liked what they saw as to how it relates to their neighborhood and approved them. So until you are fully informed about the final design as approved - which includes the "eyesore" Eichlers - with the "blessing" of the neighborhood (those that chose to participate) then it is a bit either late or premature to be asking for changes to the approved project. And as far as not liking Eichlers or thinking that they should all go away so that "Palo Alto can look like any other city in the country" - how boring! Eichler had a huge hand in changing how architects, designers and developers looked at appropriate housing for a climate such as ours - let the outside come in, use the outside as additional usable "rooms" during the moderate times of the year and enjoy the Mediteranian climate. Goodness knows he was on the right track. How many of you in fancy homes now have the outdoor kitchen? The outdoor dining area? With upholstered couches, chairs etc to use to sit around your outdoor fire pit? Enjoy your outside rooms this lovely fall season and thank those architects that dared to think outside the stick-built box.


Posted by George, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

The renovation of the historic building was a public benefit that the developer was required to complete as a "payment" to the city for zoning exceptions/waivers in the PC zone ordinance. Hope that staff will require the developer to compensate the city in a significant way to make up for this now lost public benefit.


Posted by DavidJones, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I'm disgusted that a group would even consider saving this waste of space. You silly people with too much time on your hands just discredited yourselves from gaining any of my support in the future for real buildings that may actually deserve protection.
The next time I hear anyone asking for help with palo alto preservation. I'll be looking the other way


Posted by ChrisC, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 21, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Regardless if the building was an eyesore or not, it's flagrant disregard for the system. Isn't the old Park movie theater beautiful now down in Menlo Park? That was the same thing. The marquis was supposed to be retained and the owner just demolished it and for what reason, it's still undeveloped and looks absolutely horrible.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I wondered if they could desgin a new Eichler style shopping center, some posts, some beams, some tar and gravel, but design in a 2012 building.


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Could someone please explain the Eichler worship in Palo Alto?

Having lived in one in the 60's, I think I can say with some authority that they are the cheapest post-war construction, built for blue collar workers.

Why do they go for 7 figures in Palo Alto, and why are they seen as not just as something special, but something worthy of worship?

Can someone please explain?



Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Outside Observer - no one can explain the Eichler worship because it makes no sense. MANY other builders/designer and architects embraced the indoor/outdoor connection.


Posted by Jim , a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Give me a vacant lot and I will build you an Eichler. Only I will use modern materials and meet current building codes and put solar on the flat roof. But it will look just like an Eichler AND BEST OF ALL IT WILL NOT BURN DOWN IN 20 MINUTES like the old Eichlers did. All Mr Tze has to do is meet the design he agreed to.
Then we can have the ugly eyesore with a welcome grocery store and a few more living spaces.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Good Riddance.


Posted by developers rule, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Isn't Page & Turnbull involved in the Mitchell Park library debacle? Perhaps I'm mistaken.
Jim Baer was consulting with Tze. Did he advise Tze to demolish first and apologize later? He'll apologize on his way to the bank.
Developers get away with anything they please, our Planning Department and City Manager have completely sold out. Do you read the papers?


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Nearby neighbor here (and past owner of two Eichlers -- not in PA) and I fully support this long-suffering developer. The city and some neighbors have made redevelopment of this blighted center incredibly difficult and delayed. I don't believe there should be any issue with what happened.
Insofar as Eichlers go: they are individual, as are their developments; pls don't lump them all together in one category, positive or negative. Also there are Eichler lookalikes that the general public sometimes mistakes for Eichlers.
Looking forward to the new center - will patronize on first day open!


Posted by paloaltotreewatch, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:14 pm

for all of you who complain that the Eichler had no value
which is wrong
just look at the blobs this city has approved
1) JCC
2) Elks Club
3) Alma Plaza

what do all this buildings have in common?

they are blobs with huge vertical walls which come
directly to the street and offer to human comfort at all
-perhaps the intent was not to build forts but they is the
current architecture in vogue in this city

so for all you say the Eichler was ugly
it was ugly by 1/2 compared to what goes as style today.
Whose in charge over there at the city?
Obviously nobody with any REAL style.

The last building with style in this city was the Ramona Street building.
And they want to build some monster buildings - from the looks of which have zero style as well. It just goes to show you that you
can all the muns in the world and have zero taste.


Posted by Eichlerfan, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 22, 2012 at 6:29 am

How 'bout a few more Spanish style structures (whose fan base is always CA transplants)replacing historic Palo Alto structures? More stucco and spanish tile please. Welcome to Edward Scissorhands' neighborhood. Every new house in my neighborhood is Spanish cookie cutter. No mas!!!


Posted by Eichler fan, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 22, 2012 at 6:33 am

Steve Jobs grew up in an Eichler and, according to his biography,the Eichler elements helped him design the clean lines of the ipod and other products. I grew up in an Eichler and am sad to see when they are changed or demolished.


Posted by Fraud, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 22, 2012 at 8:29 am

Am i the only one that realizes that a major fraud has ben perpetrated against the people of Palo Alto? Not by the developer, but by Diane Sekimura and her group. For years they have been saying that this building was an original historic Eichler--now it turns out that the walls were not original. ARe the guardians of this structure, including Diane Sekimura, claiming that they had no idea??? I thought that they were the appointed ones---to make sure that this Eichler was maintained. How do they explain this???

As an aside--Palo Alto Tree watch--once again proves the point that differing opinions and views are not welcome in Palo Alto


Posted by Eichler Sucks, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2012 at 8:43 am

What the heck is with with some of you people. Get Jobs, spend time with the kids or grand kids, pets, hobbies. Stop trying to make this out to be some travesty done to the poor people of palo alto.


Posted by ndnorth, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

People are confusing construction with aesthetics. 20th century architecture&environment development cannot ignore the contributions of Eichler. It's simple lack of education not to understand its value. Older people in general dislike the Eichlers but younger people love them despite the shoddy construction.
The issue at hand is not how beautiful or not the structures were but a violation of the commitment to the city to keep the structures.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2012 at 11:39 am

SteveU is a registered user.

I don't know how they got a demolition permit, but if it was not the approved plan, then they should be required to create an functional, visual 'Replica' (with all code upgrades that won't significantly visually effect) on the EXACT location of the 'accidentally' demolished structures.
These kinds of 'Accidents' don't just happen. There are too many people involved.


Posted by Member, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I'm thrilled to see progress being made on this project and have no problem with replacing outdated construction and buildings of questionable lineage with an architectural project that has coherence for the site and is "fit" for the purpose for which it was designed. Let's keep our eyes focused on getting this completed and bring a much needed grocery and other services to this location and this community.


Posted by Brian, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Sand Hill's actions are not acceptable. The city needs to order them to re-construct those 2 demolished Eichler buildings as close as possible to the original design taking into account current building codes only where critically important for life safety issues.

I don't completely buy into John Tze's response. Exceptions are made all the time for historic buildings. Switching to double pane glazing is an energy compliance not life safety issue. Regardless of being single or double pane the glass would need to be tempered and or laminated depending on it's location. Think about all the historic storefront glazing in downtown San Francisco. Plenty of buildings get renovated and retain their single pane glazing. Even plenty of new buildings are designed with single pane glazing at the street front level. The glass is just a little bit thicker. Other aspects of the building like mechanical, plumbing and electrical could easily be installed per modern codes with no impact to the architectural design.

It seems like Sand Hill is exploiting the perceived lack of concern for preserving buildings from the modern. Think of all the hideous McMansions that are being built in Eichler developments throughout Palo Alto. Someone at the city in their infinite wisdom thought it was a good idea to approve their construction.

The ARB's conditions of approval is a binding agreement and if Sand Hill doesn't live up to, or refuses to maintain it's part of the agreement the city should revoke it's building permit. The city needs to stand it's ground on these issues otherwise it will lose all credibility. Hopefully the city still has the original construction documents in it's micro-fiche records to verify the accuracy of the re-constructed buildings.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I love mid century post war modern buildings, the style, the idea of outdoors inside. Remember this shopping center that was built in the 50's has suffered from decline, poor maintance and host of other building problems. It can be rebuilt, little different


Posted by Sally, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm

City had an agreement with the developer. A building permit was issued based on those plans. The developer intentionally strayed from those plans and demolished the building without permit. The building permit should be revoked!

There must be immediate and significant consequences for demolishing a historic structure without permit and destruction of a negotiated public benefit. Otherwise, the city is sending a loud message that is ok for every other builder to ignore Building Code and City Ordinances.


Posted by Brian, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm

to David;

Thanks for the suggestion we contact the ARB. I will specifically ask them to REVOKE Sand Hill's building permit and STOP construction.

to all those people that call Eichlers UGLY;

people once said the same thing about Victorians (with all their "fussy woodwork and trim growing like tumors every which way - designed by someone under influence of psychotic drugs ". Before people make loaded statements like calling something "UGLY" they should use a little humility and realize that maybe there is something they just don't know how to appreciate. The same applies to art and music. Personally I hate Jazz but I don't claim those that like it have no taste.

Eichlers may not be exclusive to Palo Alto but the fact that this city is blessed with so many of them is one Palo Alto's only claims to fame in architectural history. I've had friends visiting from Los Angeles, Seattle and New York who have often expressed interest in driving thru some of the Eichler subdivisions. Plenty of people have foregone their "cooler than thou" urban lifestyles in San Francisco specifically to live in an Eichler in suburban Palo Alto. Kind of nice to think a suburban tract home can be designed so well to get that kind of respect from people that otherwise wouldn't be caught dead in the suburbs.

If the ARB let's the Developers blatant disregard of agreement in this situation go unpunished it makes me question why we have an ARB in the first place. The ARB is meant to be composed of professionals looking out for the interests of the community for years to come. Currently I have less and less faith in our city government. Rather than standing up for principles they have been become as reactionary as possible, pleading ignorance and aiming to appease whoever makes the biggest stink about a particular issue, be it NIMBY's, developers or whomever. Seems like talk of money and property values is all that governs their decision making. The ARB is meant to stand up for higher principles.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Brian - I don't think Eichlers in general are ugly, but that building was so run down that it was ugly. The side of the building that was in view for most people (facing Embarcadero) was simply painted concrete block surrounded by asphalt.

The large windows and indoor-outdoor connection of Eichlers is wonderful and something I hope will be reflected in this new structure.


Posted by blight, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Great Brian, instead of trying to figure out what happened and work out a solution, you want to halt construction and leave the center an eyesore and stop a needed local grocery store. Wonderful.


Posted by Kimmie, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Leave it to Palo Alto...like Romney, they shoot first and then aim. They tear down an icon and then wonder..."what happened?" I grew up with that Lucky's, drug store and all and have fond memories of them both. Too bad there is barely anything left of old Palo Alto. Next, they will cut down El Palo Alto and sell the wood for coffee tables. Sad commentary about the Palo Alto of now....


Posted by Just don't get it..., a resident of Southgate
on Sep 22, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Stopping construction is about as dumb as one can get! Just continue adding to the eyesore for years to come. Please can we move forward with a project that hundreds or thousands can enjoy...and solve your issues some other way.


Posted by Developers rule, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Combine this with the Arrillaga proposal and we have enough evidence of big time corruption in town. Real, big time corruption at the top.
Tze was in Europe vacationing while his precious project was being demolished? I don't believe it. Unless that was his plan, to be away when they did it.
In the unlikely event that Tze is so casual at minding his business, he should be dis-allowed from building anything in Palo Alto. Of course he will apologize, a lot of good that does.
Lots of money floating around, lots of corruption. Time to face the truth.


Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Queue up the Twilight Zone theme song.


Posted by Brian, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm

@ blight,

are you kidding? You say "figure out what happened and work out a solution".

We know exactly what happened:

They tore down a building that should not of been torn down.

I don't think the ARB would make stipulations that the buildings only needed to be preserved if economically convenient for the developer. So what if the building was in such bad shape that "someone leaned against it and it fell down" as someone else quipped. Even if that was the case it is Sand Hill's own negligence that is at fault. Purposely neglecting historic buildings is a common developer tactic.

The solution is simple too:

The building needs to be re-built.

1.) Perhaps it was a simple mistake or misunderstanding on the part of the demolition contractor. Fine, but the solution is the same. Re-build the building.

2.) Maybe it really did fall down on it's own. Shame on Sand Hill for letting it get to that state. They still need to re-build it.

3.) Perhaps Sand Hill did an assessment of the historic building and determined that for the cost of a full restoration they could do a better job re-constructing it from scratch. If that was the case there may be some room for negotiation. They still deserve a slap on the wrist from the city for not disclosing that but perhaps they could keep their building permit and continue on their merry way.

We don't know which one of those it was but we know the solution is the same in all those situations. You don't need to shed tears for the developers. All of you pay taxes too so you should be standing up for the city. The developer did not just violate an agreement with the ARB it violated an agreement with you.

In the meantime while construction comes to a halt be prepared to enjoy the beauty of an empty field. Empty lots can be a beautiful thing especially as wild flowers take root. The city is well within it's powers to mandate that the lot be seeded for wild flowers to grow if the site goes into development limbo. It may be all about preventing soil erosion but it doesn't deserve to be called blight. It is one of those transitory experiences we should all learn to enjoy. It won't be there forever.


Posted by Another neighbor, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Not everyone in this neighborhood agrees with Diane Sekimura, and she knows it. Not all of us paid to take her case to the Supreme Court. Not all of us can pay to remodel our home and live fancy over the top lives, and rule the lives of other people just because of our zip code. Some of us actually volunteer, work, and do the best we caan day to day. Some of us want to shop IN OUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD. Some of us want to FEEL SAFE at a shopping center in OUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD, but thanks to Diane Sekimura and her pals with Eichler passion (like their aren't any others around) with clout and money, we can't. We can't let our kids ride their bikes are the shopping center because it's not patrolled or safe, it now abandoned. And now at least something is happening.

But Sand Hill, seems to have lots of squirrelly business, and just never knows what the right hand is doing! Where is the project manager on this? Because things have gone so far, there is no excuse for a lack of communication. We already live in an area (North Palo Alto) where it's hard to be accepted by your own neighbors and there is tremendous pressure on everyone, peer pressure on kids and adults. Adding to tensions with a huge project, one we've all been anticipating, doesn't help.

I hope this can be investigated while things continue to move forward, we need to stall again like we need a hole in the head.


Posted by Good news, a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2012 at 8:28 am

I spoke with the general contractor, a great guy.
They are pouring the foundation for the new building this week. The new building will be as close to the original design as possible.

Eichler be praised!


Posted by The problem with Eichlers, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 23, 2012 at 8:53 am

Is there were made cheaply to make them affordable. Because of that they will not have a long lifespan. This shopping center has been dysfunctional in the 22 years I have lived here. Not sure architecture style was the only factor though. Sadly the only business that seemed to thrive was the liquor store.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm

You think it was Penn Station, the Singer Building, City of Paris dept. store and The San Francisco Fox.Theatre, that they torn down and built UGLY in its place.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm

One more thing 2 out of 3 buildings are still there. Makes notes, copy design, look for modern materials, build up to code and I think it will work.


Posted by Eileen Wright, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I hope that Palo Alto will find a way to save the MacArthur Park building -- it's a beautiful example of Julia Morgan's architectural talent, and part of the story of Palo Alto.

Perhaps some of the local SV billionaires will step up to the plate.


Posted by disgusted, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm

This City is losing it's history and turning into a generic Anytown. Who knew that some developer could snap his fingers and destroy a city. I just heard that MacArthur park is going to be moved. Never mind that it's a beautiful historic building. Better to put up an ugly high rise that will sit half empty during economic downtime. Now there will be ugliness anchoring each end of University. Oh goody.


Posted by disgusted, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm

It's a billionaire destroying. Vision = greed sometimes.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I smiled ear to ear when I saw the hideous thing come down.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm

I love modern architecture, love Eichlers, live in one, but there is nothing in Edgewood Plaza worth saving besides the sign.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Has Diane S. done any remodeling at her house? Does her radiant heating still work or has she replaced it with another heater? Has she installed dual pane windows? Has she painted any of the wood veneer walls?? Well, you get the idea. If she's done any of these things she can't say a word about preservation of a shopping center that's been ugly since it was built, and which has suffered from neglect not by John Tze but by all the previous owners, who did nothing for years. The buildings became structurally unsound, as do all neglected buildings, especially Eichlers--which, by the way, burn to the ground before our very efficient firefighters arrive; the fire department estimates that Eichlers on fire last no more than five minutes.


Posted by Em, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Palo Alto has a lot of lovely, historic buildings. Eichlers are not among them.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

For those of you who don't understand why so many people are either very happy the building went down or that they are not upset at this particular developer for pushing the agreement envelope - I'll explain:

The St. Francis "committee" who held up this shopping center, who demanded Eichler, etc. do not (and never will) represent the overwhelming majority of local residents who wanted the darn thing torn down.

So a little prairie justice is fine for the most of us.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Crescent Park Dad - if you don't have time to answer this, no biggie.

How did the minority get their way? By being squeaky wheels?

Thank you.

My parents recently drove by w/a neighbor of that neighborhood & saw the latest & they both said, "Finally!" The neighbor just chuckled - total testament to what you just posted.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Hmmm - there are CCR's which cover what can happen to the plaza and only the properties included in the CCR's got to "vote".

I drove by earlier today and all I have to say is that it looks better already!


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm

They had control through a CC&R declaration for their small subdivision - which included the shopping center. We're talking about a couple of square blocks in size.

The committee had the right to hold things up and make it their way. I don't think anyone can argue about their ideas on appropriate housing density and placement on the property. And their concern for traffic flow is valid as well.

However, to push a minority architecture opinion onto the developer and the larger community, affecting hundreds and hundreds of local residents, was over the top.

They certainly didn't speak for me or any of my neighbors.

My two cents anyway.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Thanks for the info. What you wrote makes total sense. It sounds like they well represented the community re everything except the architecture.


Posted by R Kurtz, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:02 am

Oh, I'm so sad they tore down the old ugly complex..are these neighbors for real? The place was an eyesore for years, a safety hazard, a place for low life's to gather, the list goes on! This is the best news ever!


Posted by n.p, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Com on people. who can be sorry for bunch of the ugliest buildings being demolished !!!!!!! I love it.!!!! Eichlers have got to be the most tasteless pieces of...
Mr Developer, I thank you


Posted by Richard Clark, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I think the driver of that bulldozer should get an award! Too bad he didn't take out the other Eichler too.

How much longer do we have to look at that funky building on the corner with the falling down glass wall around it?

Richard Clark
St. Francis Drive


Posted by observer, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

To all the eichler haters, would you call this one ugly/tasteless ? - Web Link

Eichlers are not for everyone. People either love them or hate them.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I don't have a dog in this fight, but I have to say that I lived in an Eichler, in Palo Alto, 2-3 years. It was liveable, but it was still Eichler ugly. I have never understood why anyone with an aestehtic sense would defend them.

Eichlers are post-WWII mass housing, effective for their time, but not historic. A lot with an Eichler is a potential scrape, just like my own home in College Terrace.

I see no reason to honor them, except as part of a PA history lecture/website.

It is amusing, to me, to watch these absurd fights over next to nothing. Just scrape it, and move on.


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