The transformation of south Palo Alto's El Camino Real into a hotel magnet is proceeding apace, with the latest proposal calling for a five-story hotel to take over the current site of the popular Chinese restaurant Su Hong.
Under a proposal that developer Mircea Voskerician submitted last month, the one-story restaurant building at 4256 El Camino Real would be demolished and replaced by a 50-foot-tall development with 69 hotel rooms and eight residential units.
The town homes would each be three stories tall and have three bedrooms, according to the plans. The project still needs to be vetted by the Architectural Review Board before it can gain approval.
If it gets the green light, the development would join an ever-growing list of new hotels that have sought and, in some cases, received the city's approval to open on El Camino Real south of Oregon Expressway. The list includes Hilton Homewood Suites, which replaced Palo Alto Bowl, and Hilton Garden Inn, which opened just north of the Su Hong site, at 4216 El Camino Real.
Both of these hotels are located near to the Crowne Plaza Palo Alto, which has occupied its site in the 4200 block of El Camino Real since 1962 (originally under the name Hotel Cabana). Farther up north, in the 3000 block of El Camino, stands Hotel Parmani, a 36-room hotel that would be demolished and replaced with a new four-story hotel under a plan that the City Council praised in May (it has yet to be formally approved).
Though the hotel boom is centered around El Camino, it's not limited to the rapidly evolving thoroughfare. On June 1, the council gave the green light to a proposal to construct two hotels -- Courtyard by Marriott and AC by Marriott -- in the 700 block of San Antonio Road, near Middlefield Road.
The trend reflects both Palo Alto's healthy economy and the wishes of the City Council majority, which supports having more and bigger hotels. In January, during a discussion of the Comprehensive Plan, the council voted to explore raising the allowed density for new hotels by 50 percent if they are downtown and by 25 percent if they're not.
The hotel that's being proposed by Voskerician also includes an underground garage with 78 spots, with an additional seven spots provided on a surface lot. It is located in a "service commercial" zone, which accommodates retail, housing and hotel uses. As such, it would not require a zone change to win approval.
The developer for the new hotel is listed as HXH LLC, an entity with a location on East Bayshore in Palo Alto. The applicant, according to the plans submitted to the city, is Voskerician, who made headlines in 2014 when he sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
At the time, Voskerician claimed that he made an offer on a Hamilton Avenue property that abuts Zuckerberg's home. While Zuckerberg ultimately bought out Voskerician's contract, the two sparred in court after Voskerician accused Zuckerberg of reneging on a verbal promise to introduce some of his business contacts to Voskerician.
In 2016, the two sides reached a settlement in which Zuckerberg did not pay any money to Voskerician.
It remains to be seen what the proposal will do to Su Hong, a popular restaurant and perennial winner of the Weekly's "Best of" readers poll (owner David King could not be reached Monday). The restaurant has been a south Palo Alto staple since 1985, when it opened its doors at 4101 El Camino Way (the first Su Hong on the Peninsula opened in 1977, in Menlo Park). The restaurant moved to its present location in 2010, taking over a site formerly occupied by Denny's.