Middle Plaza at 500 El Camino Real

Project description

Stanford University is proposing to redevelop the properties currently addressed 300 through 550 El Camino Real, which is an 8.4-acre site that is part of the El Camino Real / Downtown Specific Plan area. The project parcels are part of the Specific Plan's "ECR SE" zoning district and "El Camino Real Mixed Use" land use designation. The existing buildings (current and former auto dealerships) and site features would be replaced with a new mixed-use development consisting of offices, housing, and retail.

The proposal would adhere to the Specific Plan's "Base" level standards, which were established to achieve inherent public benefits, such as the redevelopment of underutilized properties, the creation of more vitality and activity, and the promotion of healthy living and sustainability. The proposal is required to comply with the Specific Plan's detailed standards and guidelines, which include requirements to limit building mass (in particular on upper floors), encourage articulation and architectural interest, require wider sidewalks, and mandate LEED Silver compliance. This project would also be required to provide a 120-foot-wide, publicly accessible frontage break at Middle Avenue. This "Burgess Park Linkage / Open Space Plaza" would lead to a future grade-separated pedestrian/bicycle crossing of the Caltrain tracks. The proposal also requires consideration under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The proposal is subject to detailed review and may change before final actions occur.

Required review

The proposed project would require the following actions:

  1. Architectural Control for compliance with Specific Plan standards and guidelines for a mixed-use development consisting of office, retail, and residential uses on a 8.4-acre site, with a total of approximately 10,000 square feet of retail/restaurant, 144,000 square feet of non-medical office, and 215 residential units;
  2. Lot Merger to modify existing lot lines for the construction of the new structures;
  3. Heritage Tree Removal Permits to permit the removal of 18 heritage trees and the transplantation of one heritage tree associated with the proposed project;
  4. Below Market Rate (BMR) Housing Agreement for compliance with the City’s Below Market Rate Housing Program;
  5. Development Agreement for the project sponsor to secure vested rights, and for the City to secure public benefits, including a financial contribution to the City of Menlo Park towards the design and construction of pedestrian/bicycle crossing improvements; and
  6. Final Infill Environmental Impact Report (Infill EIR) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project. 
The project will require review/recommendation by the Planning Commission and review/action by the City Council on all project actions. These meetings will be scheduled at future dates.

Applicant correspondence on Specific Plan

The subject applicant, Stanford University, participated throughout the entire planning process for the El Camino Real / Downtown Specific Plan, in particular by serving as a City Council-designated representative on the Oversight and Outreach Committee. In public correspondence and through remarks at meetings, the applicant repeatedly supported the community planning process and stated an intent to pursue a comprehensive mixed-use redevelopment proposal in compliance with the adopted Plan. At various points, the applicant provided detail-type critiques of some draft regulations and Draft EIR elements, but did not submit correspondence or make in-meeting remarks that committed to a particular type of future development proposal.

The applicant's correspondence on the Specific Plan is provided below, for reference.