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LACI proposes parking, park on First Street

Easels holding photographs, logos and a map of downtown greeted those who attended the Los Altos Community Coalition meeting Aug 19.

Los Altos Community Investments (LACI), formerly known as Passerelle Investment Co., took the opportunity to discuss a new look for First Street. The company’s plan features green space and underground parking on LACI-owned First Street properties.

“We were very pleased with the strong turnout,” said Tamara Fagin, co-chairwoman of the Los Altos Community Coalition. She noted that people affiliated with the Los Altos Village Association and Los Altos Stage Company and former mayors were among those in attendance.

According to Fagin, the Los Altos Community Coalition was founded to share “timely and important information – namely, creative proposals on how to improve our community and best practices on working with various groups and city staff.”

The proposal discussed Aug. 19 was LACI’s brainchild.

“We envision it being privately financed, with no public money whatsoever,” said Kelly Snider, LACI managing director, in an interview after the meeting.

LACI hired Sares Regis Group to serve as development manager for the project. A design team for First Street has yet to be hired.

LACI hopes to engage an architect in the fall. Snider noted that “it is too soon to say” what sort of architectural changes may be in store on First Street facing the Safeway building.

The group’s plans include building an underground parking garage and turning approximately a half-acre of the Plaza North parking lanes into a park.

LACI owns the seven parcels north of Plaza North, from 121 to 151 First St., including Area 151, Bumble and Los Altos Vault and Safe Deposit.

Cullen Raphael, a Redwood City resident who met friends at Bumble a week after the Los Altos Community Coalition meeting, said he thought green space was better than more parking.

“Obviously, I’d prefer the park,” said Raphael when asked how best to use the space.

Mark Boennighausen, a lawyer and longtime Los Altos resident, expressed excitement about the project.

“As a 25-year Los Altos resident and as someone who works downtown, I was impressed by the vision,” he said. “It would be great to have a development that adds green space to the downtown area.”

Jon Biggs, community development director for Los Altos, attended the meeting and will be involved in the project’s development.

“Discussions so far have been at about the same level that they were at the Community Coalition meeting,” he said, intimating that everything was preliminary. “We are all checking our calendars to select a date to meet and discuss next steps.”

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