News

Plan to rebuild Hotel Parmani gains traction

City council signals its willingness to change zoning rule

A plan to demolish the aged Hotel Parmani on El Camino Real and construct a roomier, more prominent hotel gained momentum Monday night, when the City Council signaled its willingness to make a zone change to accommodate the transformation.

The council also praised the proposed architecture for the new four-story hotel, which would be 48 feet in height, feature 97 guest rooms and a two-level basement. It would replace the sprawling but decidedly more low-key two-story hotel that currently occupies that site on the corner of El Camino Real and Hansen Way.

For Yatin Patel, whose family has owned the hotel since the 1980s, the biggest obstacle to redevelopment is a zoning rule that requires a 50-foot setback for buildings along Hansen Way.

To overcome this barrier, Patel asked the council to change the zoning at the site so that the setback requirement would no longer exist. The location, in close proximity to both Stanford Research Park and Stanford University, is well suited for a larger hotel, he said.

"Location is something travelers love because it provides easy walkable access to offices in Stanford Research Park and walkable, bikeable access to the university," Patel said.

Randy Popp, the project architect, said the hotel would bring in about $1 million in annual hotel-tax revenues to the city. He also said the project complies with all code requirements, except for the setback rule, and noted that the city still has fewer hotel rooms than it did in 2005, when Hyatt Rickey's shut down its operations.

While the council didn't make any decisions on the project Monday, members indicated that they will likely support scrapping the setback requirement.

The council had also reviewed the project last April, though both the project and the council have changed since then. The prior design was criticized by some as too bulky and blocky for the corner; the new one, by contrast, won rave reviews from from council. Councilman Cory Wolbach called the site an "appropriate place for a hotel" and called the design – which includes outdoor seating and a second-floor terrace -- "very attractive." Councilman Eric Filseth concurred.

"It's a big step forward from the really early concept a year ago," Filseth said. "I think it brings the average up in Palo Alto."

According to the applicants, the new hotel would include a cafe or a restaurant on the ground floor. While Popp said the establishment is intended to be used by hotel guests, several council members urged Patel to open it up to the greater community, a suggestion that he acknowledged with a nod.

"There's not that many amenities in the Research Park and that can be something that's walkable for someone to have a cup of coffee or something like that," Mayor Greg Scharff said.

Council members offered other suggestions as well. Tom DuBois urged the applicants to ensure that the design allows for traffic circulation that avoids backup on El Camino Real. Councilwoman Karen Holman also asked the applicants to consider wider sidewalks, with the idea of creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment along El Camino Real.

"We want a landing spot that's going to be comfortable for people to be able to navigate with strollers, bicycles, et cetera," Holman said.

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Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on May 2, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Make exception for no one!


21 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 2, 2017 at 5:30 pm

I think it is a great idea. That whole area is a mix of restaurants that are on the street - as well as the stores cross the street so more power to a new hotel. I don't get the zoning issue since Oregon to Charleston has a vast mix of buildings that are on the street.


2 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 2, 2017 at 9:15 pm

Will that basement basically be in, or right next to, a TCE plume?


11 people like this
Posted by Zoning matters
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 2, 2017 at 10:15 pm

There is hardly any sidewalk.
There are good reasons for zoning rules, even if Randy Popp doesn't want to live within them.
Good architects can do good work within constraints. Palo Alto architects only want to break the rules, again and again. Like teenagers always looking for rules to break.


31 people like this
Posted by Randy Popp
a resident of Monroe Park
on May 3, 2017 at 1:03 am

I normally don't engage in this type of attack but I find the anonymous post by "Zoning matters" to be almost totally inaccurate. Read the Staff report or look at the proposal. There is not a single element of our zoning rules this project exceeds.

This hearing was about a setback imposed 20 years after the hotel building, still standing today, was built. Look at Google maps from around 1948 and you will see surrounding fields, no roads other than El Camino, and a small plane parked nearby. Our City Planners made a mistake constraining a CS zoned parcel on a 100' site with a 50' setback that was intended for the multi-acre RP parcels. Just makes no sense and the Council, every member of the Council, agreed.

The sidewalk on El Camino is shown to be consistent with the regulations and in some ways, due to the planting and other elements, is wider. Along Hansen, the sidewalk simply maintains the current width of 6'. I think it makes no sense to make it any wider for two reasons - 1. Any increase will just reduce the 13'-1" of planting area that is so nice and 2. It would just narrow again to 6' as soon as it gets to the next parcel since that is not going to change. Just don't see the point. Perhaps if you walk there daily you can share some insight I may have missed but if this is just your opinion, I don't agree.

I'll offer one last thing - What you did get right is that constraints often make a project better. I agree with that and expect this hotel will benefit from the South El Camino Real Design Guidelines and the opportunity to define a really important corner. What we will not do, contrary to what you suggest, is exceed any legal constraint.

If you, or anyone else wants to engage further - please use your real name so we can have a mature dialog. You are welcome to contact me at randy@rp-arch.com if you prefer but please, the tone and alternate facts presented in your comment have no place in our city or on this message board.


24 people like this
Posted by Torreya Man
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 3, 2017 at 10:43 am

Randy, what a superb response.


34 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on May 3, 2017 at 11:06 am

The family owners of Hotel Parmani should be commended for coming into the Ventura Neighborhood meeting to discuss the project and listen to feedback. The sidewalk/walkability issue could be improved if the intersection at Hansen were redesigned to eliminate the "pork chop" curb in a similar fashion to what has been done at Stanford Ave. This location--right on El Camino and bordering businesses--is a great place for a hotel, and renovating it should be an asset to our city. I think the process worked in this case.


3 people like this
Posted by Midtowners
a resident of Midtown
on May 3, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Seems like anything would be better than the current eyesore and that's a good hotel location.

But did he really make the argument that travelers love the location because it provides "bikeable access" to Stanford? That's ridiculous and an insult to our intelligence - people staying in hotels don't have bikes with them.

Just putting "bikeable" in a proposal to help it sound better.


13 people like this
Posted by Randy Popp
a resident of Monroe Park
on May 3, 2017 at 1:23 pm

@Midtowners

Travelers love the location because it is adjacent to the Stanford *Research Park* which includes (as an abbreviated list) all of the following within a 1.5 mi radius:

Baker & McKenzie
K&L Gates
Google/Nest
Integral Development
US Trust
Varian
Sodexo
HP
Cooley Godward Kronish
Stanford – misc. offices and uses
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Perkins Coie
Carbylan Therapeutics
Jazz Pharmaceuticals
Ford Innovation Center
TIBCO Software

As with many new hotels, the Hotel Parmani plans to provide bikes for the use of their guests. Those guests will be able to easily use those bikes for business or pleasure to move around the city anywhere they like. Just for reference, it is a short 13 minute, 2.3 mile ride to the center of the main quad. Totally reasonable, and common for this type of project, as part of the proposal.


16 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 3, 2017 at 1:28 pm


Some hotels and many companies have a selection of bikes on hand for use by out-of-town guests or corporate visitors.


16 people like this
Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 3, 2017 at 1:59 pm

I am neither pro- nor anti-development, but I thank you, Mr. Popp, for insisting that people stick to the facts rather than merely unleashing the contents of their spleen.


13 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on May 3, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful responses Mr. Popp. And bravo for planning for bicycles. That's a great idea and all too rare around here. Build it and they will come -- or in this case, provide the bikes and they will be used. Hurray.


2 people like this
Posted by Zoning matters
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 3, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Thank you for your response Mr Popp.
However, expecting a large proportion of visitors to that long list of companies to be bike riders is unrealistic. An 'alternate fact.' Not gonna happen.

I realize that bicycles are the new religion and I have nothing against them, but they are being used as an excuse for huge over-building, and as a solution to the traffic glut, which they are not. In fact, they make driving hazardous.

I think of your work when I drive on San Antonio Road past the JCC's awful, stark, wall facing the street. I realize, nobody's perfect.


8 people like this
Posted by Randy Popp
a resident of Monroe Park
on May 3, 2017 at 4:56 pm

@Zoning matters - Seriously?

I'll be direct and ask that you not put anonymous words in my mouth. Just more inaccuracy on this blog and not helpful to the dialog in any way.

I won't even respond to your comments about bikes being an excuse or a hazard...I just don't see any point.

I respect that you may not appreciate the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life. That said, it's much more than just the JCC. What it is, is an amazing and unique project with a facility that serves all ages of our entire community, provides 193 + 57 Senior Housing units and 103 multi-family units, all on 12.5 acres at the absolute Northwestern most corner of Palo Alto. It is a project that was vetted in public process over 18 hearings and approved unanimously every step of the way. Like any art, it will have critics, but at least try to be civil while you hide behind your posting pseudonym. In the 8 years since it was completed, the overwhelming response I receive is very positive.


5 people like this
Posted by cm
a resident of Downtown North
on May 3, 2017 at 9:06 pm

All of this building is just destroying the quality of life in Palo Alto. This city and the bay area has a severe over-population problem that we are blindly refusing to acknowledge. We are slowly allowing, one development at a time, a disaster to develop that one day will be apparent when there isn't enough water or food or space for all the people.

I also believe that the architect was not correct in saying that the building met all of the requirements except for the 50 foot set back. If the building had to be built on the current allowed building area, the square footage that it has now would never fit. Therefore the proposed building is too massive for the site without the change in zoning. This is classic up-zoning to build a bigger project. Not a good idea in this already overcrowded city.


11 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 3, 2017 at 10:03 pm

I take issue with the comment above -CM. This is a hotel - not a residence. The upgrade of the hotel will be a great addition to that area. If you have not noticed it is across the street from the lead in street - Hanson to a large property that is suppose to be developed -FRY's. And it is in close proximity to the large Oregon / El Camino business park. All of the buildings in that area are going to be changed up. How about the CPI facility which is next door - now that is something - a number of single story buildings on a huge amount of land. I would think that they would want to do something with that property.


11 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Barron Park
on May 3, 2017 at 10:49 pm

cm,

I just wanted to comment on your following comment:

I also believe that the architect was not correct in saying that the building met all of the requirements except for the 50 foot set back. If the building had to be built on the current allowed building area, the square footage that it has now would never fit. Therefore the proposed building is too massive for the site without the change in zoning. This is classic up-zoning to build a bigger project. Not a good idea in this already overcrowded city.

I think what the architect is saying is correct actually. They are not asking for up-zoning (that implies something like a density bonus for housing). In reading the staff report, it is clear that the parcel is zoned CS and this project will comply with the CS zone requirements. I wouldn't call this upzoning and I am not sure what you mean by that. If you think about it, the site is actually under-utilized according to the current zoning, so perhaps they are up-building, if anything, to build to what the zone allows for.


1 person likes this
Posted by Gerald Dean
a resident of Green Acres
on May 9, 2017 at 3:00 am

When riding one of the hotel's super duper bikes, you should be prepared ~better take out a good insurance policy as you will be riding IN THE INTERSECTION just a block from one of Palo Alto's MOST BUSEST traveled roads~ Page Mill and El Camino Real...It remains to be the most dangerous intersection in town...FYI...
My humble opinion.....~ To skinny down the sidewalk will be a bad idea as the flow of the traffic noise will give some units a restless/sleepless night....The stopping and starting noise and pollution of all the traffic already has one sitting at the stop lights, backing up from the hotel clear up to Page Mill Road. Hoping the new hotel will be well insulated to deal with this...ashamed to hear complains after it gets built...


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

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