Five-story offices could replace housing planned for Evelyn Avenue

As the demand for office space fills up nearly every available location in downtown Mountain View, residential developer Classic Communities has sidelined its 65-home project on Evelyn Avenue in favor of office buildings.

According to a request submitted to the city planning department Friday, Classic Communities has proposed three, five-story Class A office buildings with a total of approximately 465,000 square feet and three levels of underground parking. But just five months ago the City Council gave Classic Communities the green light for 25 town homes and 40 detached homes for the 4.3-acre site, which is near Calderon Avenue at 209-405 Evelyn Avenue.

The reason for the proposal is clear: downtown Mountain View is fast becoming "start-up central," said Mike Cobb, senior vice president of real estate firm Colliers International. Cobb speculated that Classic Communities, which is owned by high-end commercial builder Mozart Development Company, saw the property's "value as a long term hold" as an office building "rather than build it and sell it" housing.

"I think Mountain View has taken a permanent spot on the list of the real key locations in the area" for office space, Cobb said. Small tech firms looking at downtown Mountain View are "attracted by restaurants, transportation and the theater. It's just a good place to do business."

The office vacancy rate in downtown Mountain View shrank to 3.7 percent in April from over 7 percent the same time last year, the lowest since the boom.

"I'm pretty sure when the quarter ends we're going to see an office vacancy right around 3 percent," Cobb said. "That's extraordinarily low. Palo Alto is at 2.6 percent. There aren't other parts of the Bay Area that have similarly strong occupancy rates right now."

Planning Director Randy Tsuda said the City Council is tentatively set to consider a "gatekeeper request" June 28 that may allow Classic Communities to push the office building proposal through the city's planning pipeline. The residential zoning for the site would have to be changed.

Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association committee member David Lewis criticized the proposal in an email, saying that it would be an example of "spot zoning" if the council gave Classic Communities the zoning change without considering the move as part of the city's general plan update, which would study such impacts as increasing the city's jobs-housing imbalance.

Scott Ward of Classic Communities did not respond to a request for comment.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm

"The South Bay/San Jose office market ended the first quarter 2011 with a vacancy rate of 14.0%. "

Web Link

Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm

MV and PA vacancy rate is over 7%.

Web Link

Posted by Mike, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Steve, the vacancy numbers cited in the article are for the downtown areas only.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Mixed Use would work.

Posted by Why..the answer is simple, a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm

It's a long term hold because the developer realized that the profit margin, in today's market, for selling condo's/town houses was not as appealing as collecting month commercial rent. no brainer

Posted by K, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm

How about making a park out of it.

Posted by LFM, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I would suggest mixed use, with 50% housing and a little retail.

Also start-up's do not use Class A buildings. They want cheap and cheerful!

Clearly the under lying goal is to build and unload to Google. Google is great but we need a broad based business base so we are able to incubate the next wave of great companies.

Posted by Notyer Job, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Eeeeeverybody wants to be a city planner.

Posted by nikonbob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm

@NotYerJob...So are you suggesting that the people that will be impacted by developments should not have a voice in the process? There are plenty of examples of 'City Planning' gone bad.

Just because somebody has a title doesn't necessarily mean we should trust them to make decisions in our best interest.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2011 at 9:05 pm

The startup I work for is looking for a new office in MP, PA or MV near Caltrain. We're finding rents upwards of $5k/month for a 1000 sq ft office! They're getting snapped up, not sitting on the market. And no, Google isn't the only one.

Classic Communities may be selfish but is clearly not stupid--a big single-use office building is the smallest investment yielding the largest return.

The fact that there's such a huge incentive for the developer to build big puts the city in a good bargaining position: hey, you want to build X square feet, you do it our way, otherwise you only get only X/2 square feet.

Posted by Jack, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2011 at 11:22 pm

As a resident who lives 4 blocks away, the only positive is at least it will be mostly empty on weekends and holidays.

I'd rather have Townhomes and houses where families can raise their kids.

Posted by Mr. Nice, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 9, 2011 at 1:29 am


Posted by Notyer Job, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2011 at 5:59 am

@nikonbob: " So are you suggesting that the people that will be impacted by developments should not have a voice in the process?"

No, I wasn't suggesting that at all. You imagined what you thought I was suggesting in your own mind, and then responded to it. You're debating yourself, which is sort of entertaining in a funny way.
See you at the council meetings where the "processs" is actually happening(not here where people anonymously blow ideas into the ether on a message board)

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 9, 2011 at 11:16 am

Need to correct the fallacy of our city being run at the council meetings. City staff makes day to day decisions under the direction of the city manager. Items too large to escape notice are presented for council revue, in a blizzard of reports and studies, followed by staff recommendation. It's a rare item that doesn't get rubber stamp approval. Everyone should attended a council meeting, just to see the charade.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm

@Steve: Completely agreed, except what you call a charade might also be seen as a representative democracy at work.

A lot of city business goes on behind the scenes because it has to. What kind of annuals to plant in the middle of the Castro/California intersection is obviously not something the council needs to decide. Approving a 20-year master plan obviously is.

What about issues that fall somewhere between these extremes? If staff members appointed by an elected body aren't empowered to make decisions, then who is? A more direct form of democracy is a tempting alternative, but I'm not encouraged by the results at the state level.

Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 10, 2011 at 7:42 am

"How about making a park out of it."

"Just because somebody has a title doesn't necessarily mean we should trust them to make decisions in our best interest."

The above comments are one reason why public input gets ignored by the council and staff.

@Ed and Steve. great comments about the actual process. Council is more like a board of trustees. They oversee a lot and give general direction. Staff has a lot more expertise on most matters, which is why council depends on them to provide good information

Posted by Mike, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 28, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Council just voted to kill the project and stay with the one that was previously approved.

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