By Nancy Amdur
Real estate firm Lane Partners received the green light from the City of Menlo Park two weeks ago to move forward with its proposal to build a three-story office building at 1020 Alma St. The project will be one of the first in the city to include a public benefit bonus in exchange for allowing increased density at the site.
Menlo Park-based Lane Partners’ Alma Station development will offer about 25,000 square feet of Class A office space along with a two-level 76-space underground parking area. Another 20 surface parking spaces will line the northern edge of the site. Parking will be accessed behind the property along Alma Lane. The project will replace two 1950s single-story restaurant and retail buildings on a 0.66-acre parcel located between Ravenswood and Oak Grove avenues and across the street from the Caltrain station.[contextly_sidebar id=”gNSQnwcp3MGUar6l25cvqdrv9jJdJ5Zg”]Alma Station, which falls in the city’s El Camino/Downtown Specific Plan area, requires about a 5,700-square-foot density bonus above what is allowed in the city’s base level floor area ratio zoning. In exchange for higher density on the site, Lane Partners provided a public benefit bonus proposal for the city. These benefits will include a one-time cash payment of approximately $186,000 for the city’s general fund, said Marcus Gilmour, vice president at Lane Partners. Also included will be a 300-square-foot coffee pavilion for public use with outdoor seating in an adjacent roughly 3,200-square-foot plaza. The plaza will include one of two large heritage coast live oak trees that will remain on the site, he said. Additionally, Lane Partners will provide, install and maintain two electric vehicle-recharging stations on Alma Street. The stations will be available to the public. Bike racks also will be offered.
Pursuing a public benefit bonus is “a very unique process,” he said. Menlo Park’s planning staff was helpful in guiding the company through the plans, which began about 15 months ago, Gilmour said.
The city hired a third-party economic consultant to evaluate the public benefit proposal, and did “a good job vetting this and trying to understand the true costs and benefits and details,” Gilmour said.
Alma Station will be built on spec, and a variety of tenants could be suited for the site, including a technology or financial service company, a law firm or family office, he said.
“We believe in the location and the design we have,” Gilmour said. “Even if the market slows down a little bit, there’s such a lack of supply of new product near Caltrain stations.”
“Being close to Caltrain in this market is a huge benefit for companies,” he added. Nearby amenities also include a fitness facility and restaurants.
San Francisco-based BAR Architects worked on the project design, which will feature a steel-frame structure and combine modern architecture and natural materials. The exterior palette will use color tones and textures of stone. Roof-mounted solar panels and a 25-foot living green wall also will be incorporated into the design. The project will include more than 10,000 square feet of private open space and terrace decks.
Lane Partners plans to begin site work next year with completion expected during the third quarter of 2017.