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Historic board pans plan to move Hostess House

Original post made on Dec 5, 2012

A proposal to relocate the historic Julia Morgan-designed building at 27 University Ave. to make way for four office towers and a theater drew a harsh reception at Wednesday morning's meeting of the Historic Resources Board, where members expressed grave concerns about uprooting what they called a significant part of the city's history.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 5, 2012, 2:43 PM

Comments (46)

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Posted by nobrainer!
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Move this piece of history to Stanford lands on campus, and let THEM do the operations, tours, and maintenance. From a historical perspective, it wasn't originally where it is placed now either.


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Posted by Trashing-History-For-John-Arrillaga
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm

> From a historical perspective, it wasn't originally
> where it is placed now either.

The Hostess House was in Menlo Park for less than 24 months, and has been in Palo Alto for about 90 years--which is almost as long as Palo Alto has been incorporated. For this part of the world--90+ years makes something historical.


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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Even with excellent maintenance, would a 90 year-old building survive a move?


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Posted by not historic
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Who cares if it survives or not. This is another attempt to designate a dump as a historic property in order to feed the egos of the public who think that the building is special. It is not. Very little is historic in PA. Isn't this the same group that tried to engineer the land grab a decade ago by declaring almost everything in Palo alto asbeing historic?


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm

TO: "not historic" Did you even read the article? Doesn't seem like it. Your comments are uninformed and juvenile ... or, were you joking?


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Posted by not historic
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Neighbor-read the story- do not buy the historical hysteria pushed by the board. I guess, in your opinion, only one opinion is acceptable-otherwise it is labeled " uninformed and juvenile". Move it or tear it down,.do not let out impede process in Palo alto.


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Posted by homeless
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm

The Hostess House is a historical building, doesn't matter if it was hauled all the way to Arizona and back, as long as it is intact. Palo Alto is sitting on top of Native American sites and hopefully properties are not !!!on top of mounds, which were sacred sites. I believe they were Ohlone Indians. How about respecting that? The 4 tall office towers and the theatre art center; how are they going to benefit the community as whole. Who wants tall office towers , on historical sites , office towers so tall that private planes and helicopters can land there.talking about traffic and renewal of transit infrastructure , which I assume is funded by federal grants for reason to improve local economic hardships, provide employment , prevent homelessness , poverty, prevent segregation. Project should attempt to maximize economic out put and not cause failing and more falling in long term. Who are those tall towers going to benefit? They should benefit everyone without drawing lines, especially if federal grants are being used as part of financing. It's time to start caring about what is happening around and in and out of neighbourhoods .


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Posted by Keep MacArthur Park
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Calling the MacArthur Park building "a dump" just indicates that you have not been there. Your ignorance or perhaps youth is getting in your way. What is historic in California is not the same as what is historic in Europe or Asia. We are a young culture and are trying to maintain some civilization.
Probably meaningless words to you since you think it is "hysteria" to preserve what is valuable from the past. Perhaps a little more education would help.


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Posted by Keep MacArthur Park
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Calling the MacArthur Park building "a dump" just indicates that you have not been there. Your ignorance or perhaps youth is getting in your way. What is historic in California is not the same as what is historic in Europe or Asia. We are a young culture and are trying to maintain some civilization.
Probably meaningless words to you since you think it is "hysteria" to preserve what is valuable from the past. Perhaps a little more education would help.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2012 at 7:39 pm

"Not Historic"
I'm not buying into any hysteria at all. The building is a Julia Morgan gem.

If you knew anything about California architecture, you'd value that fact alone. The building is a gorgeous example of Morgan's work. Other Julia Morgan buildings: Hearst Castle (San Simeon), Asilomar, and many others. Look her up on Wikipedia.

Tearing down the Hostess House to build hideous office towers is ridiculous. Not to mention that PA is suddenly dazzled by high rise office buildings when they usually fight all development. No more concerns about traffic??? No more concerns about the PA quality of life? $$$$$$ can buy those principles can't it?


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Posted by not historic
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm

If it is such a historic building and so valuable, why has it been exploited for commercial purposes? You are somewhat correct what is historic here is not historic abroad or as I like to think, people here need to have something " historic" otherwise their city is not "special". Very little really historic in Palo alto- most is just called " historic" is to feed the ego of some locals.


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Posted by Rain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm

homeless,

"It's time to start caring about what is happening around and in and out of neighborhoods."

If the Julia Morgan house can help prevent more traffic and helicopters, it will indeed be historical.

How about this traffic in the rain!






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Posted by not historic
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Neighbor- just remember the events of 12 years ago, when this board played a role in attempting to declare ALL homes built before a certain year as being historic. Also remember their ongoing efforts to prevent homeowners from fixing/rebuilding their homes because of spurious claims that a property is" historic".
So yes,.I consider out to be a form of hysteria.


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Posted by rain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2012 at 7:59 pm


If the Julia Morgan house can help prevent more traffic and helicopters, it will indeed be historical.


meant to say historic,


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Posted by rain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm

not historic,

"just remember the events of 12 years ago, when this board played a role in attempting to declare ALL homes built before a certain year as being historic"

That's what historical societies are supposed to do. It's their job. Glad to know they're doing it.

"ongoing efforts to prevent homeowners from fixing/rebuilding their homes because of spurious claims that a property is" historic"

spurious? I doubt it because it's pretty clear when something is historic, like you can date a painting, a rock, and all sorts of things, houses are even easier.

If they had succeeded maybe there would be fewer pop-up pink spec houses you see everywhere now. That's what I'd call hysteria.


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Posted by nobrainer!
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm


@Trashing History

Geez. I wasn't trashing history. As you have pointed out this is a building of great historical importance to Palo Alto. As such, this building should be a museum and could be located on Stanford lands with those knowledgeable about the subject and the background guiding tours and caring for the property. It should be there anyways, regardless, of the Arrillaga deal. And it would survive the move across the street. It survives the train vibrations on a daily basis without collapsing. If it is left at its current spot it should still be a museum.

>>The Hostess House was in Menlo Park for less than 24 months, and has been in Palo Alto for about 90 years--which is almost as long as Palo Alto has been incorporated. For this part of the world--90+ years makes something historical.


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Posted by Old Palo Altoan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm

How about moving it to the Palo Alto Airport which desparately needs a new terminal building? Reusing the old building would be a super duper "green" thing!


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Again...a note to "not historic".....A historic building can certainly be a functioning building.

Note that in the Society Hill district of Philadelphia, many buildings that are designated historic sites are now in commercial use and may function as restaurants and retail shops. The reasons for their special historic designation are noted on the building (plaques) and in local guidebooks.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 5, 2012 at 9:58 pm

perhaps we should have the greedy developer and palo alto board members, like Price, who see nothing but o$$ortunity at that site, to some other state where they can develop away. I suggest texas.


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Posted by Cynthia
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 6, 2012 at 9:24 am

27 University is a historic location that could provide a valuable theme for redevelopment.

This historic train stop inspired Jane and Leland Stanford to begin, in 1875, to acquire farm land in the area. The rest, including the founding of Palo Alto decades later, is a rich history of accomplishments by many which could be well-told at this site.

Keeping the Hostess House, now MacArthur Park Restaurant, at this location seems irrelevant to me, particularly since it wasn't constructed here in the first place. It has moved and been re-purposed many times, just like we all have.

Isn't that what life is all about?


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Posted by anon
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 6, 2012 at 10:16 am

The Julia morgan Building is on the National Registry of Historic Places...there are a lot of rules that dictate legally what can be done with it regardless of the merit of opinions expressed here.


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Posted by Orange is the new black
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2012 at 11:20 am

rain,

>>>>>If they had succeeded maybe there would be fewer pop-up pink spec houses you see everywhere now. That's what I'd call hysteria.

Please explain "pink spec".

Thanks.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 6, 2012 at 11:37 am

As noted in other articles, there are lots of concerns about this project. To advocate for something as "progress" first requires a definition of what that entails. Questions we need to ask: what need does the project fill? how will impact our community and our quality of life?

Is there a need for four 100ft+ towers in Palo Alto? What would be the added value of such a project? The primary added value seems to directed toward an already expanding and already wealthy Stanford and toward profits for the developer. I don't see any significant value to the city.Even the "gift" of expanding the transit station only means more buses -- are we sure that's a good thing? Please correct me if I'm wrong. What would be the drawbacks? Traffic on Alma is already an nightmare on main thoroughfares and will certainly get worse with the Stanford expansions. Add an additional 3000 cars each day and I truly feel sorry for anyone trying to get into or away from the downtown area.

How could the project impact our community and quality of life positively? Negatively? The potential benefits of a theater are suspect -- first, TheatreWorks is private, not a public organization. Second, only a shell will be built and will stand empty unless substantial funds can be raised to complete the project. Third, there is nothing "arts district" about 4 office towers that are triple the height allowed by our building codes, so that sales pitch is truly bogus. Potential drawbacks? Traffic and parking may top the list, but I also see this as a foot-in-the-door attempt to allow high-rise building in the downtown area that fits better in large cities such as San Francisco or San Jose. This would NOT be my definition of "progress". Changes can be made that don't ruin the small town feel of Palo Alto that I believe most residents value.

This project is consistent with the "urbanization" values of current council and planning commission members. Let's look at a few examples of what this urbanization development model has produced so far: 1) buildings with no setback (examples include the Alma St. site; the Jewish Community Center; there are others -- all VERY UGLY and visually intrusive; 2)high-density housing projects such as Hyatt Ricky's and Alma St. that hinder a sense of community, increase traffic congestion and air pollution, and overcrowd our schools. I'm guessing that others could add to this list in terms of projects and their negative impact. If we wanted to live in an urban, vs. suburban, area, we could always move to SF or SJ. This is not a good model for Palo Alto.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

What happens to MacArthur Park? We know some limited history of Hostess House, not a very see inspiring building that Juila Morgan designed and oversaw it's construction.

As for why, it is only one of two buildings left from Camp Fremont which only lives in long forgotten memories of a different Palo Alto.


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Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

All I need to see is the phrase, "pitched by billionaire developer. . .," and I want to put the kibosh on any project.

Even "billionaire developer Winnie-the-Pooh" takes on a sinister ring.


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Posted by Homeless
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm

MacArthur Park is going to be part of the New Tenderloin.


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Posted by Laugh it Up
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

In reading this string, it appears that there are voices here who strongly defend and promote the 27 University project.

My guess is that they are PR folks paid for by Mr. Arrillaga.

Come on...own up to the fact that you will materially benefit from the project and then we all can have an honest conversation.

This project does NOTHING for Palo Alto (except: ruin our skyline and produce unbearable traffic).

It' just disgusting that the City spent $1 on hiring consultants to even consider this atrocity.




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Posted by Love My Town
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

@ neighbor

What a great summary of the situation.

For the life of me, I can't figure out what's in this for Palo Alto.


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Posted by i thought green was the new black
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm


the vote for the project is now off the table so they say. what does that mean? does the city then, just go ahead with project implementation despite a vote? just wondering.


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Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm

@Laugh it Up

I am not connected in any way with 27 University. I have also been commenting on these threads much longer than you have — at least this is what your name suggests.

There are clear benefits of this project. For one, the restructured transit hub. I have used the Caltrain many times and the area is a mess. Second, I believe the project will provide a pleasant corridor connecting Stanford Shopping Center and Downtown. Again, this area is a blight. For the first time in many years, we will have a chance to clean up the area. I am also a fan of the theatre proposal (even though there are many other things I would have preferred). I would like that the first floor of the towers be kept for retail and shopping and will certainly make that known. I think that's important if the site is to serve as a corridor between two shopping districts.

I am sure you and others here will disagree with me. But I know of many people (in real life) who think the project is needed. The people who comment on the PA Online are often against change. They came out in forces against the Cal Ave renovations (too narrow!), Town and Country modernization (too much traffic! too busy!), developments at Stanford Shopping Center (what happened to all the mom and pop stores?!), changes at university ave (too crowded!). Yet, these places are more popular than ever. Palo Altaans and residents from neighboring communities seem to be enjoying them.


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Posted by rain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm



Paly Grad,

I know many people (in real life) who are not residents, who absolutely hate to come to Palo Alto because they say it takes forever to get from one end to the other, and once you are in town, there is no parking.

And I would bet that most residents are not exactly pining away for "corridors" between shopping centers to better enjoy life here.





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Posted by It's a treasured building
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm

>Keeping the Hostess House, now MacArthur Park Restaurant, at this location seems irrelevant to me, particularly since it wasn't constructed here in the first place. It has moved and been re-purposed many times,<
No Cynthia it was moved only once in its first year, to its present location. Do read the article, it will reduce the need to make things up.
I 'm curious that the city started calling the building by its original name when it is so well known for many many years as MacArthur Park. Maybe the intention was to confuse people, it has certainly done that.


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Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 7, 2012 at 3:44 am

@rain

You're basically rehashing the old "No one wants to come to Palo Alto; it's two crowded!" fallacy. That palo alto is busier is proof in itself that more people want to come here.


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Posted by homeless
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 7, 2012 at 5:37 am

palo alto is such a small town: incubator. What is behind that? Would Palo Alto be today what it is without a human factor? Without its history and without strong foundation . Thanks to google even us the homeless can be connected and less segregated. One thing I liked when I landed here homeless was the peace and quiet, no noise, no sirens, no huge buildings ; 24 hour constant traffic noise, no police shining a flash light at 2am on my face. We homeless need to sleep too and need to feel safe. You are wondering about ' mama and papa' stores? What happend? They are disappearing , yes bc big corporation push them out. They cannot survive. Bigger is not always better. More concrete overpowers nature and connection to earth disappears. History is important : traditions old values bc that is the safety net and cradle; it's the incubator for better world. There is no more room in Palo Alto for big huge towers; if I may share my opinion. How may people there already is per acre? Can anybody figure that out? Planning for new must be based on facts; and real numbers including taking into account the human factor here. Who are the homeless sleeping on your streets. Look at us! We are the fathers, service men, roofers, carpenters, teachers , nurses, managers, mothers; we are the baby boomers; homeless, senior citizens. Does anybody care if a 70 year old senior citizen is punch on a face in downtown Palo Alto? Does anyone care senior citizens are sleeping in their vehicles barely able to walk? Money can buy pretty much everything ; it has a lot of power. Question here is what the city needs. Does it really need big huge office towers, more traffic or does it need more housing for the ones who are in need, maybe a grocery store?How is the land being used? Who would occupy the office towers? There are already 3 towers and a hotel in the other end of University Ave, why squeeze another 4 towers and an art center when people are suffering for a lack of housing? A new transit hub will bring more traffic and pollution. More people more homeless. If I had a house in Palo Alto, I would not like that. I'm wondering if the Hostess House would be the only one to be removed? What other changes there would be? Disappearing of the park? All this is something to think about and if the towers are being constructed maybe they should serve as a hub to figure out how to end homelessness , how to end poverty and unequally here and everywhere else. People should not be sleeping on the streets. That is not an idea of a better life and moving forward. Everybody counts. That person on the street is someone's child, a mother , father who needs a place called home of his/ her own. Office towers do not serve that purpose. Something to think about, that's all. Hello from the edge of noisy Tenderloin.


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Posted by Crescent Park Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2012 at 5:43 am

Mr. Artillaga,
Might you consider pitching your office building ideas to East Palo Alto? They could really use the resources you can provide to enhance their town and they would surely be more receptive. All the great development that has occurred there in the last few years is improving the lives of their residents in such a positive way.


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Posted by rain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

Paly grad,

"Wanting" to come to Palo Alto is very different from being forced to come to Palo Alto. Job growth does that. In the last decade we've seen companies like Apple unprecedentedly take off, new companies burst into the scene, like Google and Facebook, and Stanford growth is not exactly chump change.

Maybe this growth has taken City Planning by surprise, but how ridiculous to focus on building a corridor between shopping centers, or a theater instead of first solving real challenges that such growth brings the livability of the town, for residents - and as a matter of fact, for tourists, and new people working here.

City Planning has instead taken up the cause of Theaterworks. Palo Alto already gives this theater company rent-free use of Luci Stern. Thumbs down to their "Homeless" performance going on at City Hall. May it run indefinitely because it's pretty nuts for Palo Alto to give Theaterworks a letter committing the City to an estimated 30 million building donation on 27University, so they can raise another 50 million for fixing it up. Some kind of homeless.

Would you know how much the 500 seat Paly theater will cost? To compare that price tag to the $90 million Theaterworks estimates they need, to build a 600 seat theater.

As an aside, I find it funny that people who cannot appreciate history are such theater buffs.








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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2012 at 11:43 am

I don't think any of this growth has taken Palo Alto or any city by surprise. The idea of moving buildings, adding public benefits might help. On the other side of the coin might fuel the need to build taller due to the added costs.

We have been growing for 50 years and will grow for 50 more.


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Posted by Orange is the new black
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm

@rain,

I really do want to know what "pink spec" is.

Anyone?

Thanks.


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Posted by rain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Orange,

I was referring to houses that are not necessarily built by the eventual owner of the property. A developer buys the land, builds a house and speculates to sell it for more than what they paid to build it. Maybe it's my imagination but over the years, the ones that seem to pop up very suddenly are pink. I may be wrong, and the majority of such houses are not pink. Pink is actually a nice color, and not all spec houses are bad. My broader point is that older houses add to the charm of the town, and yes there probably are many pink historic homes too.


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Posted by homeless
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 8, 2012 at 7:09 am

rain and orange
spec houses are usually new homes that builders' build. house might offer some special features that builder thinks buyers want: for example: crown moldings, open space, granite counter tops etc. buyers can walk through the spec house and visually view and then choose the features they want in their own new home. Spec house is usually the last house builder sells. When buyers say they bought ' a spec home' that home most likely had all those special features already in that house.
If person/builder buys a 'fixer upper house' which is often less in fair market value compared to other homes in the neighbourhood and which requires lots of repairs and and sells the home after completing repairs ;with higher price: is called 'flipping.'
In older neighborhoods ' I spec house' or 'flipped' house could be an older home that is totally remodeled and repaired for example making the home: green. Green home is a new concept and it means that that specific home is environmentally friendly and conserves less energy: electric, gas, waste compared to 'traditional' homes. Goal is to reduce energy use: lower utility bills; prop hoping to increase the fair market value of that home.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2012 at 8:07 am

Long as people buy homes, you will have developers building brand new homes for those who don't want to deal building or fixing up a old house.


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Posted by homeless
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 8, 2012 at 9:31 am

there is always going to be 'a house' for sale somewhere. one way to look at built out neighbourhoods is to look at the ' point of diminishing value' as in Palo Alto... trying to figure out if 4 office towers and art center are needed. What would the economic benefit; ' out put' be for everyone and not only for few on the top of the 1% income bracket. How the point of diminishing value is figured out, I have no idea. It should not be ' a trial and error' experiment . Decisions should be based on most recent relisblr existing facts.


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Posted by homeless
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 8, 2012 at 9:40 am

meant to say : reliable facts


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Posted by rain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm


homeless,

"an older home that is totally remodeled and repaired for example making the home: green. Green home is a new concept and it means that that specific home is environmentally friendly and conserves less energy: electric, gas, waste compared to 'traditional' homes. Goal is to reduce energy use: lower utility bills; prop hoping to increase the fair market value of that home."

Best of both worlds. Historical preservation with a vision towards the future.

On a different thread there was comment on indecent exposure at Lytton Plaza. As nice as these public plazas are, near transit they turn ugly. So, what may be perceived as a benefit can bring unintended consequences.

Instead of getting more public places for our "enjoyment" near transit, a better idea could be to turn Mac arthur Park into a green building. It would be a great way to set an example for preserving the environment. It could house environmental organizations. No need to pollute the skyline for big ideas.


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Posted by homeless
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 9, 2012 at 8:56 am

concept of green is new; might be expensive up front however long term benefits supposly lower energy cost. Historical buildings can only be restored to its original state without changing the building appearance, after a property is registered ' as being historical.' old buildings might have lead, asbestos , fiber glass insulation etc and are not environmentally safe. It would be good to have actual green buildings to monitor and measure if they are even what they promise to be. Maybe it is just an other scam to have consumers to spend more. Who knows, no one agrees with anything in Palo Alto. How about using the space for a dispute resolution center? ADR - place for healing, art : quiet time instead of constant turmoil . The towers in East Palo Alto seem to be occupied by law offices. Just wondering who would occupy the new towers.


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Posted by homeless
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

don't know who this Arrilaga is, never heard of him until conversations in here: apparently he is important in this process of building the towers and removing historical buildings and if so why not to move the Hostess House to the Dollarradio Station? Silicon valley needs ' a monument ' to reflect its history and what it is today. Everything started from ' a morse code' and here we are today with all this gadgets and access to communication . Dollarradio station is in Pacifica. Not sure
though not sure if there is any land available for more buildings or interest .


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