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Greenheart project is not real mixed use - will not transform out downtown

From: domainremoved <Vincent>
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2016 12:19:46 -0800

My Guest Opinion from the Almanac:

--------------------------

The proposed Greenheart project occupies a 6.4 acre site that backs up
to the train tracks. The property faces El Camino and borders Oak Grove
Avenue.

For years, the city has allowed the property to remain abandoned and
unkempt, overgrown with weeds. The proposed development would fill this
space with over 200,000 square feet of offices, 183 small apartments,
and two modestly-sized retail spaces, plus underground parking for
almost 1000 cars.

The project includes a significant public plaza in the middle of the
office space with no retail, a smaller public plaza at Oak Grove and the
tracks and a small park in back, near the tracks. The “community serving
uses,” need not be retail but can include business services and banks.
These amenities are located on El Camino and Oak Grove, a few feet from
traffic, and nowhere near the interior plaza. In fact, the retail spaces
provide a noise buffer zone for the offices and housing.

The underground parking lot is about three times the size of the Safeway
parking lot. According to the environmental impact report:
• Most Greenheart-bound vehicles will access the lot via Oak Grove at
the Garwood intersection, right next to the tracks.
• This intersection has been designated grade F, indicating that it is a
road with a continuous traffic jam. Travel times cannot be predicted.
• Cars leaving the underground lot will experience a delay of more
than two minutes waiting to exit during evening rush hour.

I have waited ten minutes to get out of the Kinkos/FedEx parking lot at
Oak Grove and El Camino during the evening. Now hundreds of drivers will
be trying to do the same thing.

The environmental report states that there will be significant impacts
on Ravenswood, Glenwood and Oak Grove around El Camino.

This one project is going to make it a lot harder to get across El
Camino, and it will affect traffic flows throughout the city.

To accept this project, the City Council must decide that benefits
outweigh the impacts. From the perspective of current residents of Menlo
Park, here are the benefits:
• Empty car lot and ugly buildings replaced by attractive new buildings.
• Small park near the tracks.
• One plaza in the middle of offices with no shops or restaurants,
and a smaller plaza on Oak Grove by the train tracks.
• Thin “retail” strips along Oak Grove and El Camino which may or may
not be used for restaurants or other uses that residents prefer. We know
that Greenheart plans to put their own property office here and our
development agreement has no teeth to ensure that the space includes any
actual community serving retail.

If this were true mixed use, then there would be retail at the ground
floor throughout the development. What we have are two large office
buildings with a connecting courtyard and apartments with a private
courtyard. The retail has been shuffled off to the undesirable edges of
the project, and we have no process to guarantee that the uses in these
retail spaces will serve the public.

A true mixed use development at this site, with ground floor retail and
public access throughout could transform our downtown. I urge the City
Council to reject this project as currently proposed and to push for a
true mixed use project at this site with use permit controls over all
the retail.
Received on Thu Dec 22 2016 - 12:23:47 PST

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