A proposal to build a mixed-use development with 17 condominiums at the site of the former Compadres restaurant received the final green light from the Palo Alto City Council on Monday night.
The project, which was first proposed more than two years ago, cleared the last hurdle in the city's extensive approval process on Monday night, when the council swiftly and unanimously approved the final map for the new development at 3877 El Camino Real. The vote was largely procedural, given that the council had previously voted to approve the tentative plan and the "site and design" application for the project.
The city's Planning and Transportation Commission and Architectural Review Board had each voted to support the project last year.
The L-shaped development at El Camino and Curtner Avenue will include a three-story building fronting El Camino Real that will include 4,676 square feet of commercial space and six residential units. Eleven townhouses would be built behind this building and a parking lot would be built underground, according to project plans.
The council's vote concludes what has been a long but relatively smooth approval process for the project applicant, Zijin LLC. The project generated some concern in early 2017, when some residents suggested that the Compadres building may have historic significance and, as such, may warrant preservation. The city hired a consultant to study the issue, who concluded that the building is not historically significant.
During their review in March 2017, most planning commissioners enthusiastically supported the project, which Commissioner Ed Lauing called "an amazing project in a ridiculous setting" and which Commissioner Michael Alcheck called "refreshing."
"I honestly can't remember the last time we looked at a multifamily project," Alcheck said at the March 2017 meeting. "It's delightful to be considering a housing project on this commission.
The council similarly signaled its support, both in December 2018, when it approved the tentative subdivision map, and on Monday, when it approved the final map. Both unanimous votes came on the "consent calendar" and, as such, did not feature any debate or discussion.
The project is slated to go up on an eclectic block with a mix of uses, including two-story apartment buildings, a Starbucks and an automobile oil changer. Mark Wommack, director of architecture at Environmental Innovations in Design, wrote in the project description that the design of the project will "transform this blighted parcel into a vibrant and sustainable mixed-use community."
"The project will complement and support the existing urban fabric, and will be harmonious with the new developments underway in close proximity to our site," Wommack wrote. "The commercial spaces within the mixed-use structure will contribute significantly to the revitalization of El Camino Real."
The building will include retail on two levels and an opening onto a large open courtyard, Wommack wrote.
The housing will be a mix of two-bedroom flats and three-bedroom townhomes, with two units designated for affordable housing, according to the project description.