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April 02, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, April 02, 2004

Homes ahead for Mayfield Homes ahead for Mayfield (April 02, 2004)

Luxury home developer discusses initial plans for 27-acre HP property

By Grace Rauh

Future Mayfield residents may be stopping off at Starbucks before jumping on Caltrain to head to work if Toll Brothers' developers get their way.

The luxury home builders, poised to buy the 27-acre property known as Mayfield Mall, say they envision a transit-oriented residential development with small retailers on the property, but emphasized there are no set plans for the location thus far.

"We are going to have to work together," said Jim Meeks, land manager for the residential developer's Northern California department, referring to his future collaboration with the city and concerned residents. "It will definitely be a partnership."

Toll Brothers' officials met with Mountain View City Council members last week to begin preliminary talks regarding Mayfield's future development. The developers have not purchased the property from the current owner -- tech giant HP -- but both parties signed a contract earlier this year that implies Toll Brothers will buy the site.

Since HP shut down operations at the Mayfield site in April 2003, the city and residents of the adjacent Monta Loma neighborhood have shown interest in the parcel's future. Council members have discussed plans for the site in the past, and popular ideas include putting housing and a park on the land. But before anyone can build a residential development on the site, the council must agree to rezone the land for housing.

Several Monta Loma residents attended the open meeting and emphasized their desire to be part of the planning process. "Our biggest concern is staying involved," said Nola Mae McBain, vice president of the Monta Loma Neighborhood Association, adding that she supports "putting something in that adds to rather than detracts from the neighborhood's quality of life."

Council members have said they support building high-density housing on the Mayfield site that is considered affordable by the area's standards.

Council member Mike Kasperzak told Toll Brothers officials that "affordability" is a top priority for the city. The developer refers to itself as "America's Luxury Home Builder" on its Web site.

Palo Alto is also actively tracking the site's development as 4.5 acres of the property lies within its city limits. The boundary issue could complicate development plans since both cities would have to sign off on the proposed project. But Lisa Grote, Palo Alto's top planning official, said there are no major obstacles that would block development.

City council member Greg Perry has suggested that Mountain View annex the land from Palo Alto to streamline the planning process, but City Manager Kevin Duggan said that property exchanges between cities seldom work out.

"Those tend to be difficult issues," Duggan said. "It's going to take some cooperation" to develop the site together.

Toll Brothers' residential development proposal is likely to include single-family homes and townhouses along with some small retail shops like a Jamba Juice, florist or dry cleaner.

The company is expected to submit a development proposal to Mountain View, which will start the environmental review process. The planning process should take at least 18 months, city officials said.

E-mail Grace Rauh at [email protected]

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