Thu04172014

News

Going up: Flurry of commercial projects flourishes around Los Altos


Photo By: Elliott Burr/Town Crier
Photo Elliott Burr/Town Crier

Los Altos Gardens, a complex of condos and offices on San Antonio Road, above, is scheduled for completion by August. The Packard Foundation project, below, has graduated to greenery.

It’s become a common scene in Los Altos: rebar sprouts from holes in the ground, concrete begins to coat the metal reinforcements and, soon enough, Sheetrock and plywood fill in the gaps. Aesthetic tweaks and nascent landscaping follow.

Presto – a spanking new retail, residential and/or office building that changes the Los Altos skyline.

According to James Walgren, Los Altos assistant city manager and community development director, nine such projects across the city are either breaking ground, chugging along or nearing completion.

Another project, this one at First and Main streets, just moved a step forward. Menlo Park developer Jeff Morris submitted plans April 12 for a two-story, retail/office project slated for the empty space and parking lot at the gateway entrance to downtown. The project will feature an underground parking level.

Walgren said he expects the project to go before the Architecture & Site Review Committee, the first of three groups to review any development, May 16.

Early drafts of the plans proposed a three-story structure, but that has apparently been lowered.

Morris entered a $3 million option-to-purchase agreement with the city for the land in 2010 after Los Altos officials failed to find a qualified developer during its solicitation process in 2009.

The flurry of development activity may have gained steam from regional economic recovery, according to Kathy Kleinbaum, the city’s economic development manager.

“The financing for the condos going forward on First Street is a big sign,” she said.

Kleinbaum described Los Altos as “low-hanging fruit,” based on its available land, eased zoning restrictions and the fact that “our rents are through the roof.”

“We amended the zoning code a few years ago and, poof, development has just taken off,” she said.

Since 2008, the Los Altos City Council has eased regulations to allow taller structures, a change evident in the 45-foot-high buildings cropping up along First Street.

More construction updates:

Mixed-use structure on Third Street

The Tan Group’s office and residential project at 240 Third St., above, former home to Bank of the West, may be completed by July. Gaining notice around town: the two luxury condos on the top floor, with a hinted-at price tag of nearly $4 million.

Los Altos Gardens on San Antonio Road

Los Altos Hills-based developer John Vidovich’s Los Altos Gardens project at 960 N. San Antonio Road, above, has a projected August completion date. The mixed-use development includes office space and 54 condo units.

Condominium complex on First Street

National homebuilder Lennar Homes’ 20-unit condominium project at 396 First St., right, is scheduled for completion in October, according to Walgren. The complex replaces Adobe Animal Hospital, which relocated to a site on El Camino Real.

David and Lucile Packard Foundation on Second Street

The Los Altos non-profit’s “basic building is finished,” according to Walgren, and the entire project, left, is on track for completion by the end of June. Foundation officials agreed to pay the city $3.4 million when its project came up short in parking, with 84 fewer spots than mandated by city code. Officials claimed that the foundation could absorb the parking deficit via carpooling and alternative transportation.

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