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Housing project behind T&C creates concern from council members and students

Art by Grace He

Ed Storm, the Chairman of the Board for Hunter Properties, a real estate development firm based in Cupertino, proposed the project, composed of 20 condominiums, to the city and owners of Town and Country.

 Though the condominiums would be accessible to Paly, Stanford and plenty of shops and restaurants, the owner of Town and Country, Ellis Partners, said in a Palo Alto Online article they are against the proposal because it will alter the appeal and environment of Town and Country. Ellis Partners were contacted but did not respond for an interview. 

But city council member Greer Stone said Palo Alto is always in need of more housing, so this project will benefit the city in that regard. However, Stone said the new units aren’t expected to be affordable.

“Unfortunately, the project only provides 20 condo units, both one and two-bedroom condos ranging in price from $1,293,750 – $1,650,000, with only four below market rate units,” Stone said. 

Council Member Greg Tanaka said the developer brought the proposal to the city council, and it is going through the enticement process before building can begin.

A preliminary meeting pre-screening was held on Sept. 12.

“Basically, that allows a developer to submit initial designs and plans to the city council for the council to provide preliminary feedback and thoughts,” Tanaka said.

As for the opinions given, they were mainly positive, Stone said. 

“The council does not take a vote or stance during pre-screening,” Stone said. “Although we did not take a vote, it appeared that the majority of council members maintained a positive view of the project as proposed.”

Despite the optimistic opinions, there are still ongoing conversations. For example, Tanaka also said he is concerned with parking. Since the project will take the place of a parking lot at Town and Country, he said he would like to see the developer propose a solution to this loss of available parking.

However, Stone said parking is not the only thing that must be considered when discussing the project. 

“When discussing any new project, the city needs to consider various unintended consequences such as increased traffic, school impacts, parking concerns, as well as increas(ed) demands on existing city services,” Stone said. 

Additionally, the location of the proposed project is in a Community Commercial zone, meaning it is not zoned for housing.

“The City’s Planned Home Zoning tool allows the city to build in those areas not zoned for housing if they provide 20% of the housing units as BMR and the housing project does not create more jobs than it does housing,” Stone said.

Senior McKenna Raush is a frequent shopper at Town and Country, buying lunch from there almost daily. According to Rausch, the potential housing project could negatively affect her shopping experience. 

“If there is constant loud construction, the reason to even go to Town and Country will go away, and I can see myself wanting to just stay at school for lunch instead,” Rausch said.

While Rausch said if the project provides affordable housing, it will benefit Palo Alto, she is concerned about the potential downsides.

She said, “The construction would cause issues for Town and Country businesses, and then once the condos are built, I’m sure (Town and Country) will be way overcrowded, making it harder for us students to get food or places to sit.”

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