First Street Green reflects the innovative and environmentally-friendly spirit of Silicon Valley, while embracing the charm of Los Altos’ downtown village.
A Project with Vision—The First Street Green proposal features a free public plaza that will be built at no cost to taxpayers as a permanent outdoor gathering space. Los Altos Community Investments (LACI) will also grant public access on approximately 7,400 square feet of its private land to increase the size of the plaza.
The proposal also includes a new state-of-the-art office building that will include a café with publicly accessible bathrooms. First Street Green also proposes to provide an indoor furnished conference room with a public entrance that will be available to community groups.
Adding Downtown Parking—The First Street Green public plaza will be created from a portion of what is now known as the Plaza 7 parking lot, with the parking spaces relocated underground. In addition to replacing the existing surface public parking spaces at a one-to-one ratio, it will create up to 40 additional spaces of new public parking spaces, a 50% increase over the current amount. We would also like to work with the City on a public-private partnership that could increase the size of the parking garage up to an additional thirty-nine (39) public parking spaces. If approved, it would increase the current amount of parking on Plaza 7 by approximately 79 spaces, a 118% increase.
Preserving Our Village Charm—The environmentally-friendly office building will house businesses such as legal, financial and venture capital firms. It will make the area more pedestrian-friendly with deep set-backs and a third story that is barely visible from the street level. Additional landscaping, more generous public outdoor space and a smaller footprint is the best way to preserve our small-town charm.
Bringing More Community Events Downtown—First Street Green’s public plaza will be appealing to residents of every age, and be a shared social hub where workplace, family and friends unite. It will provide a downtown location for community- oriented events such as concerts, movie nights, farmer’s markets, and arts-and-crafts festivals. It will feature play areas, meet-up spaces, and a community stage for presentations, all in a safe and beautiful setting.
The Foundation supporting the First Street Green Plaza will donate the cost of construction so it is free to Los Altos, with no cost to taxpayers. Additionally, the Foundation is continuing discussions with the City for ongoing support of future programming in the park (e.g. the cost of coordinating concerts or special events).
Promoting a Vibrant Downtown—First Street Green will encourage Los Altans to come downtown for shopping, entertainment, and dining instead of taking their dollars to other locales. The office workers will provide steadier daily foot traffic to downtown merchants, and community events will provide patrons on evenings and weekends. Over time, new shops and restaurants will be attracted by the new vibrancy downtown, increasing retail options and generating new tax revenues for our city. In fact, the recent Downtown Los Altos Economic Vitality Strategy Options Report, prepared for the City as part of the visioning process, estimates that the office building at First Street Green can generate $1.2 Million in annual sales for Los Altos’ downtown businesses.
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The City Council held a Study Session at 5:00 PM on June 27 to receive public comments and to direct City Staff regarding the second phase of the Exclusive Negotiating Period. Read Agenda | Read Minutes | Watch Excerpts of the Public Testimony
First Street Green submitted their Design Review Application to the City's Planning Department on June 19, 2017. Read the project submittal cover letter (which has lots of details) here. Our technical reports were submitted a few days later on June 23, 2017. The project will now proceed through the City's formal Design Review process.
Our first study session to hear PTC feedback on our proposed community benefits, the three-story building, and the new public square at First Street Green. Great public support—links below for excerpts of the community's statements as well as footage of the entire meeting. View Highlights | View Entire Session
The City Council and PTC again got together to give us input on the type and amount of community benefits they expect in order to allow the third story on the new building. After that, the City Council approved the agreement (called an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement) authorizing design work toward a new public plaza and underground public parking.
All 12 of the City Council and Planning Commissioners told us and the City Manager that they'd like to enter into an agreement with LACI to investigate a new public plaza with public underground parking.
We began by asking Los Altans what they wanted to see in a new downtown gathering space, so we could respond to the community desires.
First Street Green will add more downtown parking. The project’s plaza will be created from a portion of the Plaza 7 asphalt parking lot, with the parking spaces relocated underground at a one-to-one ratio. Parking will be designed to code and meet requirements based on the size of the building. In addition to replacing the existing surface public parking spaces, First Street Green proposes to create additional underground parking to be shared with local merchants, city employees and the general public.
The project proposes a three-level subterranean parking garage on LACI’s private land from Shasta Street to the edge of the proposed park on Plaza 7 with ramp entrances on Shasta Street and Plaza 7 to access the garage. The Foundation will relocate all the existing parking spaces on Plaza 7 to level one of the garage as part the creation and development of the park. This provides the zoning code requirement of one space per every 300 net square feet.
We have heard clearly from our outreach that the community wants more parking downtown. Therefore, as a community benefit, LACI proposes creating forty (40) additional underground public parking spaces. This will increase the current amount of public spaces currently on the western half of Plaza 7 by over 50%, (a total of 107 public parking spaces). All the public spaces will be clearly marked public on the first level and accessible from both ramps.
|Level 1 Spaces||40||67||9||116|
|Level 2 Spaces||8||127||135|
|Level 3 Spaces||109|
Moreover, LACI and the Foundation would like to open an additional dialogue with the City, under the exclusive negotiating agreement, around a public-private financial partnership that could increase the size of the proposed underground garage under the park up to an additional thirty-nine (39) public parking spaces, thereby increasing the current amount of parking on the western half of Plaza 7 by approximately 79 spaces, a 118% increase.
We understand this is a concern, and we will work with our neighbors and the city to address any construction impacts and noise. We have researched a number of tools that have been successfully used elsewhere to relieve a temporary loss of parking, such as valet services. We are open to ideas and recommendations provided by the city’s appointed experts and members of the community.
We are engaging with a firm to complete a traffic study; however, the proposal is designed to be both pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, with minimal traffic impacts.
LACI is pursuing a public-private partnership with the City of Los Altos to develop and construct a half-acre public plaza on the western portion of the surface parking lot known as Parking Plaza 7. The construction of the plaza will be funded by the First Street Green Park Foundation—a program of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity, which is supported by the Anne Wojcicki Family Charitable Fund to clearly separate the public park project from the private development project.
On September 13, 2016, the Los Altos City Council hosted a joint study session with the Planning and Transportation Commission. At that meeting the city council voted to direct city staff to create an exclusive negotiating agreement (ENA) with LACI to set forth the procedures, timeline and standards whereby the city and LACI will discuss the process of creating a park in good faith. The agreement does not approve the park or any specific function or design. The city council approved the ENA on January 10, 2017.
The construction of the plaza will be funded by the First Street Green Park Foundation—a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity, which is supported by the Anne Wojcicki Family Charitable Fund. We are not requesting or expecting any city or public funds to be used. Further, the Foundation is reimbursing the City of Los Altos for all expenses and staff and consultant time incurred in the study, planning and design of the plaza.
That has not been determined within the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement, but we are eager to discuss those details with the City and are willing to consider an agreement to provide ongoing maintenance and programming support.
Locating open space here will help permanently prevent a "canyon effect" along First Street. In addition, we want to take advantage of the synergies inherent in constructing a parking garage for both the building and the plaza, so we are not considering an alternative location. In the event the plaza does not move forward, we will continue to pursue the new building.
First Street Green re embraces the charm of Los Altos, promotes a vibrant downtown and offers a new open space the community can call its own.
The proposal will create more parking downtown by increasing the current amount on Plaza 7 by 50%.
The plaza will encourage more community and family-oriented events, such as concerts, outdoor movies and picnics that cater to a wide range of residents.
This proposal will boost existing downtown businesses. The added vitality will combat the current situation where residents increasingly turn to other locales for their shopping, dining and entertainment needs rather than staying in Los Altos.
It will generate tax revenues for our city. The recent Downtown Los Altos Economic Vitality Strategy Options Report, prepared for the City as part of the visioning process, estimates that the office building at First Street Green can generate $1.2 Million in annual sales for Los Altos’ downtown businesses.
In addition, we expect that residents seeking a shorter commute will now be able to work closer to where they live.
First Street Green is proposed as a three-story office building. A more pedestrian-friendly experience along First Street, made possible by deeper setbacks and more open space, will benefit the downtown. Design features include:
The Los Altos Municipal Code section 14.52.160 allows for exceptions to the height limit if the project will result in a public benefit to the downtown and the project promotes or accomplishes objectives of the downtown urban design plan.
A three-story building will have a smaller building footprint than a 2-story building, ,deeper setbacks from the street, and much more open space. A three-story building will be less “boxy” and will preserve Los Altos’ small-town charm. It will also allow LACI to donate 7,400 square feet of its private land to increase the size of the plaza. The third story will be barely visible from the street level which will alleviate the “canyon effect” often lamented on First Street.
No. LACI and the Foundation have been very deliberate in separating the funding, creation, and approval of the proposed plaza so that it is separate from the private office building.
Accordingly, the LACI has not put forward the plaza as a community benefit for an exception to the 30’ foot height limit. This is because the possibility of separate approval timelines would create too much uncertainty for the private office development. Additionally, we are mindful of not setting an unreachable precedent for future downtown development because the creation of a plaza for the small size and scale of this private development would be too financially generous to achieve for future developers.
While not a precondition of approval for the office building, if approval and construction of the park moves in parallel with the building, LACI would be able to offer significantly more parking as a community benefit while minimizing the duration and neighborhood impact from construction. Due to synergies inherent in constructing an underground parking garage for both the building an plaza, dividing the timelines would significantly increase the overall cost, logistics and business disruption thereby limiting the ability to support additional parking and future maintenance and programming.
A 77,315 square-foot office building is proposed, which is ideally suited to the types of firms we are targeting and the goals of the community. We had originally proposed a 60,000 square-foot building, but based on feedback from the Planning Commission and City Council in 2016, we acquired an additional building on the corner of First and Shasta streets and enlarged the size of the project site and the building.
While we are still early in the process and currently creating initial concept designs, the building will showcase a smart office design, efficient in the use of materials, energy, water and space that helps build a greater future for our community, downtown and environment.
We will be keeping the community apprised as design concepts progress, but we intend for the building to visually complement existing buildings.
We are supportive of Los Altos’ visioning process and are attending many of the input sessions that are currently underway. First Street Green will encourage more vitality and more customers for downtown businesses while providing additional public parking and an outdoor gathering space to improve the downtown village now and after the visioning process is complete.
We are not planning any residential housing.
First Street Green’s office building is proposed to have a retail café with publicly accessible and privately maintained bathrooms facing the plaza.
Bumble may consider relocating to another site downtown in the future, with our help. One of the goals of our proposed plaza and building is to increase the vibrancy of the downtown and allow businesses like Bumble to thrive.
Bumble is not a historic building and is not listed on the historic registry.
We have engaged an arborist to study the health and sustainability of the trees. The initial conclusion is that the redwoods are stressed and declining because they are unable to adapt to the changing rains. The trees that were recently planted during the new streetscape improvements are healthy and are expected to remain.
As part of our partnership with the city, the existing trees that are currently in the parking lot will be reviewed with the city’s arborist.