Music school moving to College Terrace Centre | News | Palo Alto Online |


Music school moving to College Terrace Centre

New Mozart School of Music was forced from its church location in Old Palo Alto

New Mozart School of Music will be moving to College Terrace Centre, which opened in the spring. Photo by Veronica Weber.

A Palo Alto music school forced out of a church after city officials found its classes are a zoning violation has found a new home at College Terrace Centre.

The New Mozart School of Music, which was among the tenants asked to vacate First Baptist Church at 305 N. California Ave., is relocating to a 2,450-square-foot space on the ground floor at 2100 El Camino Real. Besides College Terrace Market, the school is the first tenant to take retail space at the new center, which opened in spring.

Owner Christine Shin, who had operated New Mozart at the church for 12 years, took a leap of faith and put her home up as collateral to finance the build-out at College Terrace after receiving a notice from code enforcement in early 2016 that the school was not a "permitted use" for the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, which only allows single-family homes as a R-1 zone.

Shin said she tried to work with the city to obtain a conditional-use permit to stay at the church, but the city's planning department denied her application in April, saying the school was a "personal service" rather than a "private education facility." The church site also lacked adequate parking for the school, according to the city.

When the permit fell through, Shin had to decide to move or fold, she said.

"I never thought I'd venture into such a huge liability," said Shin, who will face considerable changes in operating expenses: Rent will be roughly four times what she paid at the church.

But she remains undaunted. On Tuesday, Shin said tenant improvements have begun at the new site and the school could open in late November or December. The new school, which will have a maximum occupancy of 45 persons, includes a group practice area, six individual practice rooms, six offices, a storage room, reception area and two all-gender restrooms. And College Terrace Centre also has underground parking.

Ironically, the music school may miss out on a potential deal between the city and the church's other tenants to stay at their current site. On Monday, Shin said she learned that Palo Alto might consider giving First Baptist a conditional-use permit as a community center. The church would have to meet certain requirements, including for parking, before a permit could be granted, City Manager James Keene suggested during an Aug. 14 City Council meeting.

First Baptist's other tenants include iSing Girl Choir, Tuesday Night Tango, Bisheh Toddler Class, Chinese Global Artist Association, Resounding Achord, Palo Alto Philharmonic, therapists Jill Cooper, Jennifer Merrill, Joellen Werne, Moveable Feet, Stanford Folk Dance and Tango Argentina, many of which have received similar violation notices. Keene has directed staff to allow extensions to tenants who request more time to find a new location, he said.

Shin thinks that community-center zoning for the church would be a plus for everyone.

"It sounds like wonderful news for the church and our programs. I'm really glad the city is looking at more positive solutions. It's a wonderful place for the community. I do believe that to have a place for affordable rent is good for the community," she added.

Shin said New Mozart will remain at the church until the College Terrace location is ready. She might consider keeping a smaller space at the church in addition to the College Terrace building if the church receives a conditional-use permit. But she is committed to moving to College Terrace Centre, which is not far from her previous location, she said.


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6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2017 at 10:03 am

Good luck with the parking. I couldn't find the underground parking when I tried to use the new College Market. Traffic might be impacted too if people stop to drop off or pick up kids without parking.

17 people like this
Posted by dianajill
a resident of Nixon School
on Aug 30, 2017 at 11:20 am

dianajill is a registered user.

The underground parking garage at the College Terrace Market is entered from El Camino Real, southbound, between the College Terrace Market and Republic Bank. It's not real obvious, but once in the garage, you'll find it's spacious and cool.

16 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 30, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Hall of shame.
Something should have been worked out.

For god sake, it's a music school.
Bad karma.


16 people like this
Posted by The behavior that caused people to complain
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 30, 2017 at 5:17 pm

The behavior that caused people to complain is a registered user.

I went to an appointment at 5pm last Thursday. Driving by the Baptist Church, a mom stopped in the driving lane on Cal Ave heading west (in front of the church), a young girl jumped out of the SUV, the driver then made a U-turn at Cal Ave and South Court going into the East bound bike lane and onto the sidewalk, narrowly missing a pedestrian. That is the kind of dangerous behavior that caused neighbors to complain. I've seen similar behavior over the past year or so, it is always young girls jumping out (though usually their drivers pull over into the parking strip on Cal Ave, then make U-turns after discharging their students) so I suspect it's iSing, since it is an all-girl singing school.

Entitled, dangerous, impatient drivers are the issue.

15 people like this
Posted by nice location
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 30, 2017 at 6:41 pm

I hope this new location works well for Ms. Shin and her students are happy in the new location, which seems very nice, particularly with the underground parking. Perhaps parents can be encouraged to shop for groceries at the College Terrace Market during their children's lessons. Hopefully the rental cost isn't much higher than at the more residential Cal Ave location.

12 people like this
Posted by Bottom Line
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 30, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Christine was told she needed to move quickly to save her school, tried to do the right thing, and got the short end of the stick. New Mozart belongs at First Baptist. The city goofed, and should help her get whole over time. Manageable traffic issues should not cause a teacher to have to risk her house. The right sharing of resources that Rev. Mixon has been doing now is apparent. Palo Alto parents should support New Mozart, even if she needs to charge more now.

3 people like this
Posted by Scotty the Boot
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2017 at 11:19 am

It's called the FIRST REPUBLIC BANK center, not the College Terrace Center. Can't you see the SIGNS?!

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