Around Town: Benz in the Baylands; a path forward

Tidbits on Palo Alto people, places and more

In this week's Around Town column, find out which carmaker wants to open near the Palo Alto Baylands and next step in revitalizing Cubberley Community Center.

BENZ IN THE BAYLANDS ... A new proposal to construct a Mercedes-Benz dealership in the Baylands is about to start making its way through Palo Alto's approval process. The application from Holman Automotive (no relation to Councilwoman Karen Holman) calls for a roughly 84,000-square-foot building, which includes a 21,000-square-foot showroom, according to development plans filed with the city at 1730 Embarcadero Road, former site of Ming's Restaurant. It would go up next to the existing Audi dealership, City Manager James Keene said. This will be the second time in three years that the council is being asked to consider a new Mercedes dealership on the Baylands site. In June 2015, the council considered and rejected a dealership proposed by the firm Fletcher Jones, with some members raising questions about the building's density and compatibility with the nature preserve.

A PATH FORWARD ... Palo Alto's sluggish quest to redevelop the sprawling but dilapidating Cubberley Community Center on Middlefield Road could get a boost next week, when the City Council and the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education are scheduled to hire a firm to lead the long-awaited planning effort. If both bodies approve the contract, Concordia LLC will take charge of the community effort to plan for the 35-acre site, of which 27 acres are owned by the school district (which leases it to the city) and 8 acres are owned by the city. If the contract is approved, Concordia will recruit and train "community fellows (who will) become part of the team and will help guide the process, drive participation and ensure productive conversations," according to a report from the Community Services Department. The planning process won't be easy or cheap. The city and the school district plan to spend more than $600,000 on the planning effort and accompanying environmental reviews (the contract with Concordia is for up to $565,972), with the cost split between the two governing bodies. The city and the school district had only received two bids for the service (Concordia's bid was more than $400,000 less than the other one, according to staff), but officials are confident that the group can get the job done. They pointed to the firm's work on the Emeryville Center of Community Life and its "successful community engagement experience." The city and the school board have been talking about redeveloping Cubberley for at least seven years and progress has been hard to come by (during last month's budget review hearings, Councilman Greg Scharff spoke for many when he said he was frustrated with the slow pace). But if the contract is approved, Concordia will have to hit the ground running to meet the city's and school district's goal of coming up with a master plan for the entire site by Dec. 31, 2019.


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13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2018 at 9:34 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Too bad the City refused to let Ming's divide their building into a smaller restaurant with a hotel / wedding facility. I miss Ming's.

14 people like this
Posted by More contracting?!
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2018 at 10:25 am

"If both bodies approve the contract, Concordia LLC will take charge of the community effort to plan for the 35-acre site"

Sometimes I am truly amazed at the amount of work that is outsourced by our city & school board. Don't we have a planning department within the city, why are they not doing this work? Must be nice to have a job where your primary responsibility is to hire outside firms to do work for you at great taxpayer expense.

Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2018 at 12:41 pm

To clarify, this would be on the site of the former Ming’s and no closer to Baylands Park? If so, seems ok. I just don’t want commercial large scale enterprises encroaching right on the Baylands -

3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 16, 2018 at 5:53 pm

Palo Alto Buildingeye website shows application # 18PLN-00186 describing the Benz
dealership project as "a new approximately 56,994 square foot building ... "

Weekly article says "The application ... calls for a roughly 84,000-square-foot building"

I'm always confused. Any explanation for the nearly 50 percent discrepancy?

1 person likes this
Posted by cubberley
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 16, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Seeing the headline on the front page that the City and PAUSD were hiring someone to redevelop Cubberley gave me palpitations until I read further to find out that they are planning to UPDATE it as a community/educational space rather than selling it for housing like with many former school sites. Many current residents probably are not aware of that history.

6 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2018 at 2:09 pm

cvvhrn is a registered user.

TO be fair in terms of traffic I would rather see the Benz dealership than ANOTHER hotel. Also given the sheer volume of high end Germain autos that grace our streets perhaps we can capture those sales and generate more taxes for the city.

As far as Cubberly goes. I'm okay with contracting out the work. The City does not seem capable of handling this project so why set up a failure cycle. Also for all of its numerous issues PAUSD seems to do one thing well and that is to resist the temptation to sell off its land. I', glad to see it move forward.

lastly Mings. While some lament its loss, we found it to be at best a 2-3 star experience begin overpriced, overrated, and simply not that good

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 17, 2018 at 7:04 pm

^ "resist the temptation to sell off its land" -- excepting Crescent Park Elementary, De Anza Elementary, Lytton Elementary, Ortega Elementary, the original Hoover Elementary, Ross Road Elementary, and Mayfield Elementary. Did I miss any? Does PAUSD still own 100% of the original Cubberley and Terman land?

2 people like this
Posted by Judith Wasserman
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

Judith Wasserman is a registered user.

Just FYI, this sort of planning is not what city planners do, so that's why the city hires consulting firms. City planners mostly write and defend zoning codes.

Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 21, 2018 at 10:44 am

Mercedes Benz, I welcome you with open arms! This dealership would be a great addition. I'll be your first customer.

Like this comment
Posted by You'll spend lots of time there
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2018 at 10:54 am

They need lots of service so they need a big shop. It's an ego machine / stupid people's car unless you like to visit the shop.
The sheeple will bleat otherwise, but this inside guy knows better. Thank the stars for those sheeple though. I like my job :)

Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 21, 2018 at 12:38 pm

@You'll Spend Lots Of Time There: Typical response from individuals who can't afford high end cars. Keep working buddy, maybe one day you'll have one yourself.

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

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