Zoning administrator Peter Gilli recommended that the City Council approve the project, which has been scaled back to 258 homes for the the 27-acre site. The Council will consider a master plan for Mayfield on June 21 to allow up to 260 units. Detailed plans would come before the council in the fall, said City Planner Melinda Denis.
The proposal includes 3.62 acres of park space and a pedestrian tunnel under Central Expressway, which the City Council required in a previous 450-unit iteration of the project. The tunnel was estimated to cost $6 million.
No changes have been proposed to the 45 homes on a small western portion of the site in Palo Alto that were approved several years ago.
The project was perhaps the most contentious residential project in city history before the City Council approved 450 units at Mayfield for developer Toll Brothers in 2008. That design included two- and three-story homes and four- and five-story podium buildings atop parking garages, all in a neighborhood of mostly one-story Eichler homes. But recently Monta Loma neighborhood opposition to the project, once ear piercing, has become inaudible. Neighbors have been saying the new proposal — which goes no higher than three stories — is a better fit for the neighborhood and will create far less traffic.
Some still have concerns about the site's beloved trees and the plans for a year-long demolition of the existing buildings, once home to the Mayfield Mall, which may occasionally close several streets through the site used by neighbors, Denis said.
Summit Land Partners agreed to take on the project last year and scaled the project back to fewer than 260 units, citing the financial risk of tying up funds in dense development during a recession.
Denis said the new project will follow new city regulations for water conservation and landscaping, likely saving significant quantities of water. Summit is proposing 613 new trees for the site, but will remove 163 trees, a few more than Toll Brothers had proposed. A lack of maintenance on the site by owner Hewlett Packard has caused several more trees to deteriorate, Denis said. Summit will also relocate 58 large redwood trees from the site.
The 3.62 acre park space is slightly larger than the 3.59 acres the council approved in 2008. It is also relatively generous in size. At the lower housing density Summit proposes, the city's park space requirement would only be 1.59 acres, Denis said.