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proposed Sharon Green expansion

From: Fyten, John <"Fyten,>
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 16:40:59 -0800

I'd like to express my reservations regarding the proposed expansion of
the Sharon Green apartment complex.

 

I'm part of the local real estate community, and spent the early part of
my career in property management, at one point working at a large
development similar to Sharon Green. I'm not anti-real estate, nor am I
necessarily anti-development.

 

My reservations aren't so much with the many improvements associated
with the expansion because, at least on paper, they are improvements.
The development is dated, both inside and out, and lacks the
recreational and convenience amenities and upscale ambience found in
newer projects. BRE is trying to maintain Sharon Green's appeal, as a
responsible owner should, and the neighborhood potentially benefits.

 

But I have three concerns. First, it's apparent that many neighborhood
residents (not just Sharon Green residents) feel that the large trees at
Sharon Green greatly enhance our quality of life. Like it or not, BRE
is custodian of private property that many consider a public benefit. I
understand the need to remove diseased trees, or potentially dangerous
trees such as eucalyptus, or trees whose roots are causing property
damage. But it appears that, even with BRE's proposed modifications,
the neighborhood will lose a significant portion of Sharon Green's tree
canopy for years to come.

 

Second, I believe that permitting expansion even further beyond the CDP
limit sets a troubling precedent. There are four other apartment
developments in the neighborhood, and I suspect that their owners are
watching Sharon Green's application with great interest. Although I
understand that part of the 263,000 sq.ft. of existing building area
includes parking garages, I wonder if BRE could expand its recreation
and leasing space within the already sizeable existing square footage.


 

Third, the installation of inside laundry makes the conversion of Sharon
Green from apartments to condos much more economically feasible.
There's plenty of local precedent for conversion-four Sharon Heights
condo projects were formerly apartment developments. Whether converting
Sharon Green is good or bad depends on your point of view, but the
potential unintended consequences of the improvements remind me of the
Derry project, in which the city gave the original developer a
significant concession which it subsequently and profitably transferred
to another developer. It would be ironic if the city, in a
well-intentioned effort to facilitate the improvement of Menlo Park's
rental housing stock, ended up lining the pockets of a real estate
developer. If the city wishes to retain Sharon Green as rental housing,
it might do well to restrict the owner's ability to do a conversion.

 

In my profession we look for a win-win solution, with neither side
completely happy or completely aggrieved, and I'll return to a proposal
I suggested in my first comments on the Sharon Green expansion a few
months ago. The entrance to Sharon Heights along Sharon Park Drive,
between Sand Hill Road and Sharon Road, is perhaps the most unattractive
and neglected-looking entrance to any multi-million dollar neighborhood
on the Peninsula. Although I understand that the city doesn't offer
developers a "public benefit" mitigation option similar to Palo Alto's,
I wonder if asking BRE to improve the hardscape and landscape (including
planting trees) on that block might be at least a partial step toward
winning neighborhood acceptance of the project. It wouldn't offset the
loss of mature trees, but it would greatly improve the appearance of the
neighborhood, benefiting both residents and BRE.

 

John Fyten

2455 Sharon Park Drive

Menlo Park

 

 

 


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Received on Wed Feb 26 2014 - 16:40:33 PST

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