February 22, 2024
A pair of housing towers could sprout at a Palo Alto site now occupied by a Mollie Stone's grocery store in the latest effort to use a "builder's remedy" development gambit.

PALO ALTO — A pair of housing towers could sprout at a Palo Alto site now occupied by a Mollie Stone’s grocery store in the latest effort to use a “builder’s remedy” gambit to streamline the approval process for the project.

All told, the project would produce 382 residential units and a brand-new Mollie Stone’s Market store at 156 California Avenue in Palo Alto, according to documents on file with city planners.

Elevated view of a housing and retail mixed-use development at 156 California Avenue in Palo Alto that will include 382 residential units and a new Mollie Stone’s Markets grocery store, concept. (Studio Current)

Of the 382 apartments, 77 would be affordable units, which would mean slightly more than 20% of the proposed residences would be affordable domiciles. Redco Development has proposed the project

“Density on public transit with a grocery anchor is great Urban Design 101,” said Chris Freise, a managing partner with Redco Development. “This project is exactly that.”

View from a Caltrain station of a housing and retail mixed-use development at 156 California Avenue in Palo Alto that will include 382 residential units and a new Mollie Stone’s Markets grocery store, concept. (Studio Current)

Three new buildings, including two towers, could sprout at the development site, which is at the corner of California Avenue and Park Boulevard. Molly Stone’s Market occupies the property at present.

“Palo Alto has been a great home for Mollie Stone’s Market since 1990,” said Mike Stone, chief executive officer with Mollie Stone’s Market. “The proposed project will ensure it will continue to be for generations to come.”

The mixed-use development would create a brand-new Molly Stone’s grocery store at the location.

Palo Alto officials stated in a post on the city’s website that municipal staffers believe a builder’s remedy approach is inappropriate for this project.

“The city’s position has been that the builder’s remedy does not apply because the city has an adopted housing element which it believes is compliant with the basic requirements of city law,” Palo Alto officials stated in a post on the city website.

A “builder’s remedy” gambit lets developers build beyond what local rules would usually allow in cities that don’t have state-mandated housing plans in place as long as they include units for low- or middle-income families.

The project includes a 17-story residential tower, an 11-story housing tower and a seven-story mixed-use building with residential units and a new Mollie Stone’s store totaling 15,000 square feet.

The development site is a short distance from a nearby Caltrain station.

“While the project’s Tower A height is ambitious this a site that should embrace height due to its immediate proximity to the Caltrain stop,” Freise said.

He noted that Palo Alto is home to a number of existing highrises.

“There are several existing Palo Alto projects like Palo Alto Square, The Channing House, 101 Alma, City Hall and others that are often forgotten about that are similar in height,” Freise said.

 

 

 

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