Downtown garage makes an 'iconic' statement in Palo Alto

Four-story structure on Hamilton Avenue aims to bring pizzazz, relieve congestion

Editor's note: Happy April Fools' Day!

With its glassy facade, its arch shape and its ambiance of silent elegance, Palo Alto's iconic new garage is like no other in the city and possibly the country.

There are no oil stains here, no roaring motors, and no curt exchanges between drivers who take too long to get out of their spots and drivers who are forced to wait too long to get into theirs. Every visitor gets a complimentary cup of Blue Bottle coffee upon arriving into spotless facility, where he or she then hands the car keys to one of three valets waiting by the entrance. Also, every car here is a Tesla.

The new facility at the former parking lot on Hamilton Avenue and Waverley Street was completed last week after a years-long effort by Palo Alto staff to identify an adequate site for the garage and to allocate enough funds to make the new facility happen. In addition, City Council members were adamant that the garage should be environmentally friendly, visually stunning and serve as an "iconic landmark" to downtown's commercial core.

The $258-million facility has cost the city roughly $200 million more than the council had estimated in June 2014, when it adopted an infrastructure funding plan that designated a new downtown garage as a top city priority. To make up the balance, the city entered into two public-private partnerships, one with prominent developer Charles "Stomp" Cain and another with a local business that wished to remain anonymous. The business also provided funding for a public-art display at the garage entrance: a platinum statue of Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla driving a Tesla Roadster.

The four-story structure includes three floors of parking and a fourth-floor penthouse occupied by Cain, who is widely referred to as downtown's "parking czar." Each of the garage's 158 vast spaces smells like lavender and honey and comes with an 80-amp charging station. A designated section on the third floor for drivers who prefer to park their own cars includes parking spaces with vanity mirrors, massage chairs and a complimentary breath mint shaped like a Model S sedan.

The facility also comes with a cramped basement that can fit up to 12 non-Tesla electric cars. Signs throughout the garage direct diesel-powered vehicles to seek parking at one of downtown's other parking facilities.

The new garage opened last week with a ceremony attended by local council members, planning commissioners, Tesla executives and downtown residents who have long clamored for an increased parking supply. Councilman Greg Scharff, a Tesla driver, cut the ribbon to the new facility and proclaimed it a "wonderful day in Palo Alto."

"In addition to being one of the most beautiful buildings in downtown, this garage is in many ways the perfect emblem of our many efforts," Scharff said. "It's clean, it's elegant, it's environmentally friendly and it welcomes all drivers, except those who drive lesser cars."


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8 people like this
Posted by LovemyTesla
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2015 at 8:56 am

[Portion removed.]

What a brilliant solution to downtown’s parking mess! My only question is, Will the garage be large enough to accommodate all the Tesla owners who want to lunch downtown?

2 people like this
Posted by Jim Shortz
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2015 at 10:54 am

They forgot to mention the public/private partnership with Stanford in which young coed students in the parking-engineering dept. will be mentored by Mr. Cain...

7 people like this
Posted by I got it!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 1, 2015 at 10:55 am

Thanks for this! So funny and so spot - on!

12 people like this
Posted by PolicySage
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 1, 2015 at 10:58 am

This is patently unfair to Tesla owners who wish to lunch at Baume on California Avenue. VIP Express Bus service should run every five minutes from that garage to California Avenue; a chilled glass of California sparkling white wine, brut of course, should help assuage the delay in dining.

3 people like this
Posted by pacsailor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2015 at 10:58 am

Seems like an April Fools article. What day is today?

8 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 1, 2015 at 11:09 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Don't readers realize this is an April's fools day haux?

4 people like this
Posted by Carol
a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2015 at 11:21 am

Nice try! Brings back the two-city merge of years past!

22 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2015 at 11:34 am

Hysterical - except for the fact that in this town this COULD happen!

11 people like this
Posted by Local architects applaud
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2015 at 11:39 am

A pizza party hosted by PaloAltoBigger will celebrate the new structure.
Architect Glass Box will be the featured speaker.

"We wanted the bird-killing bridge design but didn't succeed. We tried."

Hooray for a downtown garage that meets our architectural taste!

13 people like this
Posted by DontLeafMeAlone
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 1, 2015 at 11:57 am

As a Leaf owner, I wish to voice a complaint for my vehicle being considered a second-class EV.

Posted by Retarded
a resident of Fairmeadow

on Apr 1, 2015 at 12:24 pm

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4 people like this
Posted by CW
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 1, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Would you mind clearly marking (in the headline) which articles are fiction and which are non-fiction? Doing April Fool's Day stories is a bit juvenile, something you might find in a high school newspaper. This really hurts your credibility.

14 people like this
Posted by BP, no not that BP
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Thanks for the April Fool's Day jokes. We can all use a laugh these days. (Salon, Garage, it is a joke, right?)

10 people like this
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 1, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Palo Alto is such easy pickins' for such stories--I thought the lab poisoning story was an AFD story!

Big thanks to all the writers who make each April's Fool Day so amusing.

10 people like this
Posted by Whiskers
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 1, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Wait a minute! What happened to the complimentary helicopter ride that would take us to the destination of our choice?

5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Is there a vegan restaurant close by the garage?

7 people like this
Posted by Rose A
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 1, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Rose A is a registered user.

I'm disappointed that there is no secure bicycle parking in this garage. And cyclists get a smaller cup of coffee! This is NOT fair.

5 people like this
Posted by Maria
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 1, 2015 at 5:24 pm

I love April 1!! This "news" and comments made my day!

2 people like this
Posted by Andrew
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Wow I saw this and thought "this has to be a joke." Then I came back and checked and it was posted April 1st. Thank god. I was starting to believe that the town I grew up in was turning into.... That.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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