By Meghan Hall
A sizable development pitched by one of the nation’s largest multifamily developers is taking shape in Menlo Park. Called “Menlo Flats,” the 253,702 square foot project was originally pitched by Greystar in December of 2019. Now, the project is making progress through the entitlements process. Most recently, the City released its preliminary environmental impact report on the project and just closed its most recent round of public comment on the development.
“Throughout our entitlement process for Menlo Flats, we’ve thoughtfully incorporated community feedback. As a result, we’re excited to deliver a vision for a new destination to live, work, and play in an area with complex housing needs that this project helps address by providing both market rate and below market rate homes,” explained Andrew Morcos, managing director of development at Greystar. “The City’s environmental consultant is now preparing the Final Environmental Impact Report which will be presented to Menlo Park Planning Commission in early 2022 with construction expected to begin shortly thereafter.
Morcos added, “We look forward to continuing to work with the City and community on this project.”
Greystar intends to develop an approximately 1.98-acre parcel at 165 Jefferson Drive, just north of U.S Highway 101 in the city of Menlo Park. Currently, the property is developed with a single-story, 24,311 square foot office building. The building was originally constructed in 1964 and is currently occupied, although the building would be demolished to make way for the new project.
Overall, the new development would include 248,995 gross square feet and rise eight stories in height. The new building would include 158 dwelling units as well as 15,000 square feet of commercial space. The commercial space would be broken into a larger, 13,400 square foot segment, and a smaller 1,600 square foot space. The smaller space will be used as a cafe to satisfy community amenity obligations. The larger commercial space will ultimately accommodate multiple tenants, including a co-working facility.
About 15 percent of the residential units will be reserved for below market rate households, and housing will be located on all floors. The commercial spaces will be located on both the ground floor and third floor.
Additionally, project plans indicate that a total of 20,930 square feet of open space will be provided across the site, taking the form of residential open space, common open space, and publicly-accessible open space. Private terraces will total 1,380 square feet while total common open space will total 14,530 square feet and include features like an amenity deck on the fourth floor and a roof terrace.
However, before the project comes to fruition, it must complete a number of steps. While the project team has made great strides, the City still must certify the environmental impact report, and the project team must also procure a Master Use and Building Permit, among other certifications. Additionally, in order to qualify for bonus-level development, the project will need to undergo an appraisal process that compares the value of community amenities provided to extra development.
If approved, construction of the project would include multiple phases. Two months of demolition, a three-month grading phase and 24 months of building are planned. While Greystar does intend to move forward immediately, City documents indicate that the project will be delivered by mid-2024.
Charleston, S.C.-based Greystar is no stranger to development in the Bay Area, or beyond. According to the company’s website, in North America alone, the firm has developed 144 properties and has an additional 99 currently in the pipeline.
Menlo Flats is just one of several projects that Greystar is working on in Menlo Park. Currently, the company is working to develop 104-110 Constitution Drive and 115 Independence Drive with a project dubbed “Menlo Portal.” The project will have 335 rental units, about 35,000 square feet of office, and 1,600 square feet of neighborhood benefit space. Menlo Uptown, yet another project at 141 Jefferson Drive and 180-186 Constitution Drive is even larger; the project will include 441 rental apartment units plus 42 for-sale townhomes.
Greystar has embarked on developing in the area not just because of its proximity to major transportation and employment hubs, but in response to City changes in zoning. In 2016, the ConnectMenlo General Plan and M-2 Area Zoning Update created a new vision for a live-work-play environment, and under the new zoning, net new development was increased significantly, allowing for up to 2.3 million square feet of non-residential uses, 4,500 residential units and 400 hotel rooms. With the door open, developers–including Greystar–continue to expand their local reach.