Virgin eyes downtown MV site for hotel

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

City Council members met behind closed doors Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of leasing to Virgin Hotels some city owned parking lots near the downtown train station for a project that might actually increase downtown parking. 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.

City officials did not reject the proposal Tuesday, and have requested more information before deciding to move ahead.

"Our hopes are to build, as part of a new parking structure, a Virgin Hotel that would help finance the new parking garage on existing lots," said project architect Bill Maston, who is based in Mountain View. "This would be a public benefit that would actually increase available parking in downtown Mountain View while bringing a first-class hotel into the downtown area."

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.

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. Virgin Hotels 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. On April 25 the city received a letter from developer Shashi Group LLC about its interest in building a 200 room, five-story hotel near Google headquarter on a 1.4-acre site at 1625 North Shoreline Blvd. that would be "one of the most technologically advanced in the world," the company wrote. The City 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. Most development proposals received for the 6.69-acre Moffett site have included office space along with a hotel, but no housing.

The number of hotel proposals is another sign that the city is in the midst of an unprecedented real estate development boom.


Like this comment
Posted by PennySmith
a resident of North Whisman
on May 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Really. First Google and the congestion they have caused and their huge buses on our small streets, causing rents to sky rocket; LinkedIn and the others and now hotels!

Like this comment
Posted by Build Baby Build
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

This is a great idea! Private enterprise will pay for and increase the number of parking spots in downtown. The Wealth of the City is increased, while tax payers funds are preserved.

This is a great example of how competition and rational self-interest leads to economic prosperity. All thanks to the invisible hand!

But mark my words, if the liberal members of this city council try to insist on the corrupting presence of a union work force, this deal walks away. Luckily, the two worst liberal city councilors term out this year.

Like this comment
Posted by greghume
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Adding more parking means more cars.
A big hotel means more cars.
Who benefits from all this?

I don't see how it does anything good for me or the quality of life in my neighborhood.

Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 16, 2014 at 3:47 pm

It would not be a big hotel; it would be a small one. A big hotel would take up an entire city block, something that will not happen here in downtown Mountain View during my lifetime.

It's the cars that come first, then the parking follows, not the other way around. There is increased auto traffic in Mountain View, resulting in the need for more parking, hence the construction of parking garages.

We already have the cars: try those two Hope Street city parking lots on a Sunday during the peak hours of farmers market (let's say 11am). No one builds parking lots unless there's a need for them. We didn't need parking garages in the Eighties or Nineties because there was less activity downtown in those days.

If the parking needs aren't adequately addressed, then people will go elsewhere to spend their dollars.


The city and its inhabitants benefit from the 10% transient tax (a.k.a. hotel tax). A hotel would also create more hospitality sector jobs.

A better quality downtown hotel would also be able to have a high-quality destination restaurant (a place that might be frequented by locals), something that a hotel at the Moffett Gateway site would be difficult to support.

I'm not saying there aren't some challenges to this project or any other commercial development in within a 100 mile radius of this city. But clearly there is some benefit to this project, both to the city and its inhabitants.

With downtown Mountain View's increased business activity (startups, etc.), discussion of a small downtown business-focused upscale hotel cannot be brushed aside as frivolous pipe dream.

Like this comment
Posted by ME
a resident of North Whisman
on May 16, 2014 at 8:17 pm

This is exciting for Mountain View. Hopefully, with the development of the "Moffett Gateway" the entrance to Leong from Moffett will be improved because now it's just dirt and broken concrete. This has been a disgrace to the neighborhood for too long!

Like this comment
Posted by SupplyAndDemand
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm

There are no hotels in downtown mountain view because of supply and demand. If there was a demand for hotels, there would be a supply of them, yet there are none.

That is the law of supply and demand.

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 17, 2014 at 4:40 pm

I hope that Castro does not become a concrete canyon with talk nondescript buildings. There is a place for such buildings but not on Castro. Put them on the other side of 101.

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Liberals are funny. They demand mass transit, but when Google comes up with a system that removes dozens of cars per bus and does so far better than any government entity ever could, they complain.

The buses stick to major thoroughfares and are not on small streets.

You may be on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Rush Limbaugh et al, but you are equally ridiculous.

Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 17, 2014 at 5:33 pm


I think downtown MV can handle at least one upscale hotel. Note that Palo Alto has *six* hotels in their downtown zone: Westin, Sheraton, Garden Court, Cardinal, Keen, and Epiphany.

Putting a hotel across the 101 side also has some merit, but the fact remains that certain business travelers would prefer staying in a downtown hotel, whether it be here, Palo Alto, SF, San Jose, Denver, or Detroit.

It is completely unrealistic to relegate all hotel properties away from the business center whether it be Moscow, Milwaukee, or Mountain View.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

I would suggest that the Hotel make extra rooms available for there laborers.

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