News

Virgin eyes downtown MV site for hotel

Two other hotels also proposed for Mountain View

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has gone into the hotel business, and his hotel company has set its sights on Mountain View, as have several other hotel companies.

City Council members are meeting behind closed doors Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of leasing to Virgin Hotels some city owned parking lots near the downtown train station. City officials have been seeking redevelopment proposals for the downtown parking lots for years, and up for discussion are two parking lots on either side of Hope Street, between Evelyn Avenue and Villa Street.

Depending on whether some smaller lots on Evelyn Avenue are incorporated -- including the Voice's old office at 655 West Evelyn Ave. -- the hotel could potentially be constructed directly across Evelyn Avenue from the downtown train station.

Details of the proposal have not been revealed and city officials were not immediately available for comment.

Whatever happens may be a marked contrast to the modest buildings on the sites now.

"There's no place for modesty here — Virgin is recognized and respected across the globe," says the website of the corporate behemoth which has its hand in the cell phone industry, space tourism and Formula One race cars, among hundreds of other things. The hotels would target travelers in the "creative class," its website says. The company has yet to open a hotel since launching in 2010, but makes big claims that it will change the hotel industry. Plans for Virgin's Nashville hotel incorporate a state-of-the-art recording studio.

City Council members may have to consider how many hotels are viable in Mountain View. The city recently received a hotel development request from Shashi Group LLC for a site at 1625 North Shoreline Blvd., a site now home to Overtime Fitness. The council also wants a hotel on another piece of city land known as the "Moffett Gateway" site at Moffett Boulevard and Highway 101, in order to raise revenue for the city budget through a lucrative long-term land lease. Five developers have made proposals for the site.

The number of hotel proposals is yet more evidence that the city is in the midst of an unprecedented real estate development boom.

Most development proposals received for the 6.69 acre Moffett site have included office space along with a hotel, but no housing.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Spooky
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2014 at 2:28 pm

This is strange -- I was driving from Sunnyvale to Mountain View on Evelyn last weekend, and seeing all the small businesses along the route, I was wondering how much longer they would be allowed to stay.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by marc siddens
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm

great idea, no parking would be required either since you know, anyone staying at the hotel would take the train. :-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Better build more parking
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm

There will be a need for way more parking.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

Someone missed your sarcasm Marc.

I got it. :-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 13, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Wouldn't parking wind up on the site under the hotel like most other hotels I the area?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Puzzled
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Isn't Council also having a study session on the Housing Element tonight? And doesn't the Housing Element suggest using public land for accelerating affordable housing development? Will the Virgin hotel be really that affordable?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by It as affordable 4 yrs ago
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm

If we didn't have greedy landlords, we would have affordable housing. We need rent control, not public housing built on public land.
We've always lived in an expensive area and the fact is not every resident who wants a house will be able to buy one. Up until 4 yrs ago or so, I heard people doing the natural complaining about the normally high rents, but it wasn't until recently that I hear about $1K rent increases per year and THAT is what the real problem is about. It as always been normal for this area to have pricey houses, but only recently have landlords gone rent crazy with greed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Geek
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 13, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I can only thank my landlord for jacking up prices in 2010. It forced me to buy a house after 10 years of renting. And 3+ years later I understand that it happened to be a very good financial decision.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maher
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 13, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Ok ... everything about this process sounds waaay wrong. The first red flag is the "closed meeting" venue... why not use a more transparent and inclusive approach like announcing a town meeting invite to a council meeting to get public reactions.
Well, because that's not what they want to do.

Then comes the thought of all that parking disappearing across from the train station. The parking that serves businesses and their customers on Castro, Hope, Villa, and Evelyn? Where will people park?

I wonder what the negative impact on those businesses will be? How much will that cost MV coffers and MV quality of life for residents?

The whole picture seems very wrong and actually nauseates me. Seldom do I have such a strong visceral response to an issue like this. Go figure?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Hotel that will replace outdated office building which in most cases the hotel can be build underground parking for their guests. If needed they can build a parking structure over at Caltrain.

Tell you the truth have you seen how much rooms are over the week, it seem most of the people coming here are staying from M to Th not Fri to Sun. So while most residents will use downtown mostly on the weekends, don't see parking much of problem.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Trams
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Is Mountain View ever going to grow up and build a tram system? Sure the young can bike, but how about the old folks? We are all going to be old at some point.
And if there was a tram system, wouldn't we need a central tram location at the train station to connect all the runs? If we do not save a place for a tram system, we will do without a tram system until an underground system is cost effective. So do we need to be as dense as New York?


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2014 at 8:14 pm

If we can the naysayers out of the way, we just can't built a transit system on passengers who will only ride it twice a day. It is easier to drive then to deal with 4 transfer and still have to make the last mile on foot.


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Posted by Oscar
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 13, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Behind closed doors??
What do they have to hide this time??
How to divy up the candy??
There is not enough room for yet another elephant in our room.
Stop, E N O U G H!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

VOTE


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ChrisH
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 14, 2014 at 8:53 am

Parking garages will take care of guest parking and downtown visitors, but how will the traffic flow from shuttle buses and cabs be handled on Hope or Evelyn? How can this hotel be reached easily from any freeway/expressway? As it is, the area around the post office is to be avoided certain times of the day.If this City Council needs to add another development to our City, look at El Camino, it can handle the hotel related traffic better than our immediate downtown area. It is no coincidence Palo Alto put their hotels along El Camino, it also goes well with the "Boulevard" vision of ECR. I really question these "in fill" discussions/decisions of our current City Council, where is the big picture? As it is, we do not have enough water for the current residents, but we are creating more water using developments on a daily basis. Where is the balanced growth? Hopefully the candidates running for the new council have a better understanding of what people in MV are frustrated about.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by BadPlanning
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 14, 2014 at 9:03 am

Unfortunately, Mountain View city staff and council takes a passive role. They do not take initiative, but rather wait for developers to apply for building permits. Only then, does the City speak and let it's wishes known. They may turn down a permission temporarily, but the developer (and landowner) say "Fine! Then we won't develop it and will just continue to pay a very tiny amount of tax. We'll wait you out!" City council caves and in comes the neighborhood destroying development. Those of us who pay attention at council meetings will remember certain quotes from Koga and Bryant where they indicate that it's better to have the lot re-developed with *something*, then to refuse the application and have nothing done.

If our council/staff stood their ground and called their bluff, maybe eventually developers will submit proposals that may not be as profitable, but will preserve this great city of ours.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Weird Mountain View
a resident of Castro City
on May 14, 2014 at 11:55 am

Let's get a little cosmopolitan action up in this place, build it, build it NOW!! Then build a shuttle from the hotel to the upcoming Virgin Galactic space launch site at Moffett field.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2014 at 6:00 am

Why would anyone want to build a less profitable money losing business, you could just build a simple motel.

Do any of you watch the life of a building that is planned, starts out life even before it hits the EPC and last stop city council.

By the time it hits the council studies, redesigns and hearings have been done.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 15, 2014 at 9:23 am

I love all this talk about greedy landlords and rent control. The landlords charge what the market will bear. It's simple supply & demand economics. You can no more suspend those laws than you could gravity. If you put rent control in place you get into the situation where "greedy tenants" sublease at market prices and pocket the difference. (Yes even if <gasp> subleasing is against the lease contract) . It's a common problem in cities like NY. Aside from that: landlords shouldn't be punished for maximising their investment do that you can live in a town you couldn't otherwise afford. What a bunch of socialist self-absorbed whiners


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 15, 2014 at 9:27 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

This is exactly the kind of thing I have been talking about. Why the Council has to keep having these closed door meetings with developers is beyond me! If this is going to be such a great deal for the City, why can't the public be involved?

Also, the idea of putting a hotel on Hope between Villa and Evelyn is stupid. This will lead to guaranteed gridlock (which may be the actual reason for considering that location). If a hotel goes anywhere, I think the "Moffett Gateway" location would be more ideal since an entrance can be created near the freeway for easy access. If I accurately recall the previous Council meeting discussing this location, there were some potential right of way issues but they did not seem to be very problematic.

If a hotel was to be built at the Moffett Gateway location, it would also be very close to the employers in North Bayshore and they might consider temporarily housing some of their incoming workers there, rather than paying well above market rate rents that have driven up rents for residents more than 20% in the past two years!

Just a thought.


Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council
Web Link
info@electneal.org


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

Putting a small upscale hotel downtown, right in front of the transit center makes sense.

The hotel guest has the option of taking public transit (Caltrain, VTA) to the hotel, or taxi/airport shuttle/Uber-like ride services; they also have access to the bikeshare service as well as Zipcars and can easily walk to downtown eateries. Many of the local companies have shuttle buses from the MV transit center during commute hours.

None of those options are really available to a hotel guest staying at Moffett Gateway. Basically, a Moffett Gateway hotel guest is forced to rent a car and drive everywhere.

Also, the Moffett Gateway property is less attractive as a location for a nice restaurant, something a downtown hotel can feature.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 15, 2014 at 11:34 am

@Jay Park - Well said. This actually an excellent location for a hotel, given the number of transportation options so close by.

If we choose to pursue this, my hope is that our Council drives a hard bargain with the developer, to provide public parking underneath (to balance out the loss of the surface parking spaces), make sure there's retail facing the street, and create a signature/gateway design. I think this is an area where we should look for some real height, given that there are no immediately adjacent residential neighbors. Land with such excellent transportation options is scarce, so we should make the most of this opportunity.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2014 at 11:58 am

Nice feature about downtown hotels, one can eat and drink without having to drive, plus a fairly good night life.

Concert venvue, Center for the Performing Arts, street festivals, and coming soon new 49er studium.

I am already a customer and I will tell others.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 15, 2014 at 1:44 pm

It's worth noting that a downtown hotel provides more opportunities in terms of weekend room occupancy (more hotel taxes collected). Many Silicon Valley hotels are nearly deserted on the weekend (and slash their rack rates) because they aren't conveniently located for leisure activities. The transient tax rate is 10% of the room charge, so the city makes more money if the room rates don't drop precipitously during the weekend.

During the college football season, a downtown hotel would be an attractive option for Stanford game attendees because of Caltrain, more so than some motel on El Camino Real. Likewise, when the 49ers start playing at the new Santa Clara stadium, there will likely be shuttle buses from Mountain View Caltrain to the stadium.

Again, a hotel at Moffett Gateway or on El Camino Real would not have convenient access to such transportation options.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by IAmSmart
a resident of Gemello
on May 15, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Supply and Demand rules over everything. There is no hotel in downtown mountain view so supply is low and that makes demand high. So we need it because demand is high. Supply and Demand. Can't get away from it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hotel = more traffic
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Hotel = more traffic in that tight space. And most hotel users will have there own cars. The ideal is nice, that they would all use caltrains, but that wont fly with the wealthy that will stay at that hotel.

So better plan for better roads and lights in/near that area.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Most business travelers prefer to stay near restaurants and other evening activities, unless by the airport.

We have a very pleasant downtown areas instead of remote office park.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Roman
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 15, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Folks

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson does little without there being $$$ at the end.

It's not about the money.
It's about the money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hoteller
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 15, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Hotels do nicely in beautiful, reasonably quiet, semi-residential areas like downtown mountain view. Of course, having a commercial ugly structure like a hotel will reduce the city's livability, but who cares? Must squeeze out every last dollar. Downtown SJ has lots of hotels and look how nice it is to live and walk around there?


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