Knight & Co. Certified Public Accounts has made a move, but it didn’t go far. The firm remains in downtown Los Altos, recently relocating just a few blocks away from the building it occupied for 25 years.
Firm partner and longtime Los Altos resident Kamrin Knight Desmond said she and her colleagues “absolutely loved” their former space at 425 First St., and their lease with developer Jeff Warmoth – who purchased the property a year ago – wasn’t set to expire until December 2020. But the building’s continued history of water leaks – a problem Warmoth said he was always vigilant about addressing – and the city’s 2018 decision to approve the building’s overhaul into a three-story, 20-unit multifamily housing complex prompted Knight & Co. to expedite the move.
“We started the looking process and knew it was going to be tough to find commercial space in the downtown that fit our needs,” Desmond said. “Some of our clientele are seniors, so we needed an elevator. The owners of the building, the Corrigan family, are great, so it was ideal.”
According to Desmond, Knight & Co. explored other spaces, but the majority of them did not have an elevator. The second level of 419 S. San Antonio Road, above Heritage Bank, turned out to be the best option. The firm moved in Aug. 1.
“There is not a lot of first-floor commercial anymore for service businesses,” Desmond said. “I really see that as an impact, and I’m concerned.”
Desmond, who grew up just around the corner from the new office and has lived in Los Altos for approximately 60 years, said she is “concerned about what (her) little village is becoming.”
“There are a whole lot of buildings going up on First Street,” she said. “Parking was beginning to become a problem. Even if the building was not (being redeveloped), we may still have considered moving, or even if there was going to be commercial downstairs, parking over there is going to be horrendous.”
Desmond noted that during her busiest time of the year, April 1, Knight & Co. lost its parking when story poles were erected for Warmoth’s building renovation.
“I totally support doing story poles … but staff had to park off-site,” she said.
However, Desmond didn’t support one aspect of Warmoth’s housing project: Some units include dens that could be turned into additional bedrooms, meaning potentially more residents but no extra parking.
“I did mention that to a couple of council members,” she said, “but I’ve been trying to keep a low profile while we were negotiating out of our leases. I didn’t make a big deal about things.”
Desmond, who is active in the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce, said she champions downtown but is wary of all the changes.
“I grew up half a block from here, over on Pepper Drive,” she said. “The downtown was where myself and my five brothers hung out.”
Desmond’s father, George Knight, started Knight & Co. in 1954. Founded as Altos Billing, Bookkeeping & Tax Service, Knight & Co. has operated as a family business over the decades, as Desmond and her brother, Kirk Knight, continue the legacy their parents left behind.
For more information, visit knightandcompany.com.