Mountain View Voice

News - March 15, 2013

New plans call for movie theater at San Antonio center

No parking agreement for Milk Pail Market in phase two of redevelopment

By Daniel DeBolt

Developer Merlone Geier has significantly revised its proposal for phase two at San Antonio Shopping Center to include an eight-screen movie theater to go with a hotel and office building.

"There's certainly a lot of demand for a theater," said Mike Grehl, Merlone Geier vice president. "There are multiple theater operators that are interested."

Plans show the theater on the upper levels of a building on California Street next to the Milk Pail market, which would remain, along with two restaurants and an office building on the corner of California and San Antonio Road. A large parking garage sits behind it. Grehl said there would be no extension of an agreement to share parking, something that the Milk Pail has relied on to meet city parking requirements.

The proposal for 4 acres at California Street and San Antonio Road is part of phase two for the Village at San Antonio. The site is now home to Ross and BevMo!, which will be razed. Merlone Geier is nearly finished building phase one on 16 acres at El Camino Real And San Antonio Road, with a new shops, restaurants, 330 apartments and a new Safeway that opens April 19.

Small businesses affected

Merlone Geier has bought and proposes to demolish the buildings nearby that housed Barron Park Plumbing Supply and the International Halal Market at 391 San Antonio Road. The market was once home to the historic Shockley laboratory where silicon computer chip technology was first developed.

Merlone Geier spokesperson Ron Heckmann wouldn't divulge details, but promised a "bigger and better" tribute to the site's history would be built into the project, as compared to the sidewalk plaque the City Council approved when efforts to register the building as a historic landmark failed years ago.

The owners of the International Halal Market have taken the money from selling the building and opened a restaurant, Grehl said.

Paul Brunmeier, owner of Barron Park Plumbing Supply, said Merlone Geier helped with the expense of moving his shop to a larger location at 300 West El Camino Real, at Ehrhorn Avenue, where he hopes to see more customers from Sunnyvale. The new rent is twice as much. He opened up shop there last week.

A scaled-back proposal

The new proposal for phase two moves a hotel from California Street inward and sets it next to a park on the Hetch-Hetchy right of way, reducing its height from 11 stories — which council members balked at — to seven stories. Heights elsewhere in the project now range from four to seven stories.

The project's numerous parking garage spaces have been moved away from the street frontage on San Antonio Road and California Street, a design that drew complaints for making the street less pedestrian-friendly. There is now ground-floor retail, restaurant and commercial space throughout the second phase and along both California Street and San Antonio Road. There are also additional driveways and paths running east-west through the project, including one that runs behind the Milk Pail and the movie theater parallel to California Street.

There are 500,000 square feet of office in the upper floors of the two buildings along San Antonio Road. One tenant could lease all of it, or the space could be configured for small startups that need as little as 5,000 square feet, Grehl said.

Though reduced in height, the 165-room hotel retains a similar number of rooms as in previous plans. Grehl said the quality of the hotel would be equivalent to the Sheraton in Palo Alto, a first for Mountain View.

The remaining two-thirds of the shopping center is not yet proposed for redevelopment. It is "encumbered with long term leases" for stores like Walmart and Kohls, Grehl said. "The rest of the shopping center is more than likely to stay the same for quite some time."

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