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Condo project could test Palo Alto's appetite for housing on San Antonio

Proposal would bring 75 dwellings to commercial site

The Palo Alto City Council will review a proposal for 75 condominiums at 800 San Antonio Road on Aug. 15, 2022. Rendering courtesy Lowney Architecture.

A commercial site on San Antonio Road would be transformed into a residential community with 75 condominiums under a proposal that the Palo Alto City Council is set to review on Aug. 15.

The plan is being proposed by Yorke Lee of TS800 SA LLC, a Saratoga-based limited liability corporation. If approved, the project at 800 San Antonio Road, near Leghorn Street, would be located next to the site of another residential community that the council had recently approved: a 102-apartment building at 788 San Antonio Road that received the green light in November 2020.

Both projects are testing the council's recent commitment to bringing more housing to San Antonio and nearby roads that have traditionally been dominated by commercial and industrial uses. The conversion of industrial and manufacturing zones on the southern edge of the city into residential communities is one of the key strategies that the council is pursuing as part of its plan to meet a state mandate for 6,086 new housing units between 2023 and 2031.

Unlike the prior San Antonio project, the new condominium proposal is banking on the "planned housing zone," which allows residential developers and the city to negotiate over development standards such as height, density and parking. And unlike other recent condominium proposals such as 2850 W. Bayshore Road and 200 Portage Ave., this one is not subject to state streamlining rules. Because this is a "planned zoning" project that doesn't meet existing standards, the council will have full discretion to request modifications or deny the project when it holds its preliminary review on Aug. 15.

If the council gives the proposal a favorable review, the applicant will have the option of filing a formal application, which would then be vetted by planning staff the Planning and Transportation Commission before returning to the council for formal approval.

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If approved, the condominium project would take over a 0.87-acre site that currently includes the Body Kneads Day Spa and Sequoia Academy, which provides tutoring and preparatory courses to students. With a height of 60 feet, the five-story building would exceed the city's typical 50-foot height limit. It would have to designate at least 15 units as affordable housing, though the application did not specify the level of affordability at which these units would be offered.

The project would also deviate from other zoning standards, including density and lot coverage. The developer is requesting a floor area ratio of 2.99, while city code typically allows floor area ratio 0.6 for exclusively residential project, according to a report from the Department of Planning and Community Environment. It is seeking 68% lot coverage where 50% is normally allowed. And its density of 75 dwellings at a 0.87-acre site far exceeds what would typically be allowed in a multifamily residential zone, which would be 26 units in an RM-30 zone.

The project is one of several recent proposals to rely on the "planned housing zone," which the council introduced in 2020 but which to date has not led to any approved developments. In recent months, developers have proposed using the zoning designations to build housing projects at current sites of Country Inn Motel at 4345 El Camino Real; at Creekside Inn at 3400 El Camino Real; and at 70 Encina Ave., near Town & Country Village. None of these projects have been reviewed by the council to date.

A report from planning staff suggests that the council's feedback on the San Antonio proposal could influence other developers. It notes that pre-screening reviews are intended to solicit early feedback and that no formal actions would be taken.

"That said, there is interest among other home builders and property owners to learn of the Council's initial reaction to the subject request, which may influence the filing of future prescreening requests," the report states.

This map shows housing projects that have been proposed (in purple) and approved (in yellow) in Palo Alto. Yellow icons indicate inactive proposals. Map by Jamey Padojino.

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Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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Condo project could test Palo Alto's appetite for housing on San Antonio

Proposal would bring 75 dwellings to commercial site

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Aug 5, 2022, 1:43 pm

A commercial site on San Antonio Road would be transformed into a residential community with 75 condominiums under a proposal that the Palo Alto City Council is set to review on Aug. 15.

The plan is being proposed by Yorke Lee of TS800 SA LLC, a Saratoga-based limited liability corporation. If approved, the project at 800 San Antonio Road, near Leghorn Street, would be located next to the site of another residential community that the council had recently approved: a 102-apartment building at 788 San Antonio Road that received the green light in November 2020.

Both projects are testing the council's recent commitment to bringing more housing to San Antonio and nearby roads that have traditionally been dominated by commercial and industrial uses. The conversion of industrial and manufacturing zones on the southern edge of the city into residential communities is one of the key strategies that the council is pursuing as part of its plan to meet a state mandate for 6,086 new housing units between 2023 and 2031.

Unlike the prior San Antonio project, the new condominium proposal is banking on the "planned housing zone," which allows residential developers and the city to negotiate over development standards such as height, density and parking. And unlike other recent condominium proposals such as 2850 W. Bayshore Road and 200 Portage Ave., this one is not subject to state streamlining rules. Because this is a "planned zoning" project that doesn't meet existing standards, the council will have full discretion to request modifications or deny the project when it holds its preliminary review on Aug. 15.

If the council gives the proposal a favorable review, the applicant will have the option of filing a formal application, which would then be vetted by planning staff the Planning and Transportation Commission before returning to the council for formal approval.

If approved, the condominium project would take over a 0.87-acre site that currently includes the Body Kneads Day Spa and Sequoia Academy, which provides tutoring and preparatory courses to students. With a height of 60 feet, the five-story building would exceed the city's typical 50-foot height limit. It would have to designate at least 15 units as affordable housing, though the application did not specify the level of affordability at which these units would be offered.

The project would also deviate from other zoning standards, including density and lot coverage. The developer is requesting a floor area ratio of 2.99, while city code typically allows floor area ratio 0.6 for exclusively residential project, according to a report from the Department of Planning and Community Environment. It is seeking 68% lot coverage where 50% is normally allowed. And its density of 75 dwellings at a 0.87-acre site far exceeds what would typically be allowed in a multifamily residential zone, which would be 26 units in an RM-30 zone.

The project is one of several recent proposals to rely on the "planned housing zone," which the council introduced in 2020 but which to date has not led to any approved developments. In recent months, developers have proposed using the zoning designations to build housing projects at current sites of Country Inn Motel at 4345 El Camino Real; at Creekside Inn at 3400 El Camino Real; and at 70 Encina Ave., near Town & Country Village. None of these projects have been reviewed by the council to date.

A report from planning staff suggests that the council's feedback on the San Antonio proposal could influence other developers. It notes that pre-screening reviews are intended to solicit early feedback and that no formal actions would be taken.

"That said, there is interest among other home builders and property owners to learn of the Council's initial reaction to the subject request, which may influence the filing of future prescreening requests," the report states.

Comments

Concerned
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Aug 5, 2022 at 2:21 pm
Concerned, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2022 at 2:21 pm

Palo Alto builds Condos while Mountain View favors Apartments. That says it all!


smorr
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Aug 5, 2022 at 3:26 pm
smorr, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2022 at 3:26 pm

Yet more traffic on San Antonio. And how will that be mitigated?? And what level of "affordability" will these condos actually be?


LongResident
Registered user
another community
on Aug 6, 2022 at 2:48 pm
LongResident, another community
Registered user
on Aug 6, 2022 at 2:48 pm

Being in the Palo Alto Unified School District alone probably adds $500,000 to the sale value of the condos in a project like this. Palo Alto has done a lot to curb over development by limiting the density of office space nearby and throughout the city. Denser offices on Meadow Circle would yield highly profitable real estate development but Palo Alto has resisted that, along with denser commercial development on San Antonio Road. They have to develop housing somewhere and this looks like a reasonable spot.


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