News

Councilman reverses stance on historic buildings

Developers seek to replace downtown restaurants Tied House and Chez TJ with offices

A controversial downtown office proposal to replace two restaurants in adjacent historic buildings was dealt a severe setback on Tuesday night when City Council member John McAlister announced he was pulling his support.

In surprise announcement at the tail end of the Dec. 5 meeting, McAlister said he would reverse his endorsement for removing the Chez TJ and Tied House buildings from at 938 Villa St. Both sites are recognized by the city as historic resources although preservation efforts were mainly focused on saving the 123-year-old Chez TJ building known as the Weilheimer House.

At a study session Nov. 28, a bare majority of four council members, including McAlister, signaled support for relocating the Chez TJ building and razing the 86-year-old Tied House structure. Replacing those sites for a four-story office building spurred fierce opposition from Old Mountain View residents and other advocates.

Following the meeting, McAlister told the Voice he had a change of heart after talking to people and further considering the debate.

"I was thinking about the importance and the historic value of the property," he said. "I was torn at the time, but after thinking about it, I had to reconsider my decision."

McAlister's change of heart effectively reverses the consensus from last week's study session. He is now siding with Mayor Ken Rosenberg and councilwomen Margaret Abe-Koga and Lisa Matichak in opposing removal of the historic buildings.

What this means for the proposed office development at 938 Villa St. isn't yet clear. The project applicants -- who include the owners of Chez TJ and the Tied House along with the Minkoff Group development firm -- could still bring forward a revised office proposal for the City Council to consider.

Comments

30 people like this
Posted by A Talking Cat
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 6, 2017 at 4:07 pm

A Talking Cat is a registered user.

This time, hopefully the council can come to an arrangement with actual contractual guarantees around ground-floor retail space use, so this project doesn't turn into an isolated, industrial disaster like the one next door.


77 people like this
Posted by property tax payer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2017 at 5:53 pm

property tax payer is a registered user.

A huge step to preserving our historical heritage. Thank you Council member John McAlister.


8 people like this
Posted by Ken M.
a resident of Castro City
on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Change is bad


63 people like this
Posted by property tax payer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:22 pm

property tax payer is a registered user.

@ ken M - change is not 'bad'. I believe we would do best to temper the huge amount of change going on in MV with an equal amount of respect for what went before and how we can hold on to our older buildings - our architectural history and heritage.


67 people like this
Posted by Mv mom m
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Thank you City Council for thinking of historic preservation! Once gone, those structures and the heritage and charm of the neighborhood would be gone forever. Future generations will be grateful.


78 people like this
Posted by Adrian McCombie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:51 pm

My father put his soul into making Chez TJ thrive. Thank you for saving a little piece of Chef Thomas J McCombie.


69 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:05 am

Bravo, Councilwomen Abe-Koga and Matichack, Mayor Rosenberg, and now Councilman McAlister for the vision and courage you're demonstrating in support of Downtown Mountain View's character, historic resources and continued vitality!


13 people like this
Posted by concerned resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 11:05 am

Although I am sensitive to preserving historical sites, putting myself in the property owners situation, I have a deeper concern with dictating how a property owner chooses to use or develop his land. Was this site designated as historical when the current owner purchased it? Does this mean the owner of the restaurant is compelled to continue the operation as a restaurant. I would love to hear how some of our fellow residents that support this reversal would feel if this were their property. I'd be furious...


54 people like this
Posted by Muriel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 11:10 am

So fabulous to hear. Thank you Council Women Abe-Koga and Matichack, Mayor Rosenberg, and now Councilman McAlister for supporting that which makes downtown the special place that it is.


51 people like this
Posted by long time resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Thank you, Councilman McAlester for your consideration and revising your vote in favor and support of the preservation of the unique historic character of our Downtown! I applaud your vision and brave demonstration of your support.


58 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

I am ecstatic reading about this decision! I hope that this means that the buildings will indeed be maintained in their current form and hope fully in their current uses; or at the very least, NOT converted to office space.

I too want to personally thank Council members Abe-Koga, Matichak, McAlister and Mayor Rosenberg for their consideration of the concerns of the community, as well as the historic significance of these unique structures.

I think the community has shown that it is overwhelmingly ready to support the use of these buildings as retail and/or restaurant facilities and I have no doubts whatsoever that should the Council restrict the project to those uses, there will be absolutely no problem finding businesses willing to take advantage of these fantastic locations.

Thanks again to the Council members who are supporting our community, and thank you to all of my neighbors and others who came to speak out and act in defense of Historic Old Mountain View!


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


13 people like this
Posted by Alan L.
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 7, 2017 at 2:35 pm

It may come as a complete, earth shattering surprise to some, but the use of private real estate is indeed very much "controlled" by zoning (and other) statutes.---So grow up, kiddies.


29 people like this
Posted by MtView Neighbor
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 7, 2017 at 2:53 pm

There were so many problems with this development.
A BIG THANK YOU!

Back to the drawing board. Preserve the buildings. This land should be beneficial for the community. Anything that adds to traffic is not an option.

I'd like to see the city start buying up some of these available lands for public use, parks, preservation, etc. See Golden Gate Park as a model for growth. The city and industry has grown drastically. Unfortunately, open space has not. Time to balance things out.


38 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 7, 2017 at 2:56 pm

"I am ecstatic reading about this decision!"

Me too! Finally City Council members are showing that they actually care about our city. Big thank you to Mayor Rosenberg, council members Matichak and Abe-Koga for supporting our city's character all along, and a special thanks to council member McAlister for having the courage of taking the unusual step of changing your mind and your position.


10 people like this
Posted by juan olive
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 2:56 pm


Sometimes you must go against the grain at any cost. Thank you for doing just that
President Trump also goes against the grain, but what is most important is that in your heart you feel it is the best for everyone and the good of the city.


35 people like this
Posted by Kal Sandhui
a resident of Castro City
on Dec 7, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Well Done John.
Great of you to show guts to care for history.
With these structures gone a part of Mountain View woyuld have died along with it.
Thanks for an early Christmas present to the city and the future. Merry Christmas.


34 people like this
Posted by Bravo!
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Bravo! is a registered user.

I am SO glad that there are still people of courage, integrity and a sense of their own history left in charge in this world. I believe their children and grandchildren will be very appreciative of their courageous stance against the "modernization bullies" of this world. History will come down on the side of those who do the right thing. Thank you.


11 people like this
Posted by Shame
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 3:58 pm

@Bravo, unfortunately, their children and grandchildren will be unable to live here unless they inherit a house.


33 people like this
Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 7, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Thank you John McAlister! Let's preserve what makes downtown charming and vital. And it certainly isn't high density office developments shoe-horned into tiny lots.


34 people like this
Posted by timetrip
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 4:12 pm

First intelligent thing I have heard about downtown Mountain View in ages. Tear down more and more historical buildings to build offices? -- go build your office buildings somewhere else. If the owners of the restaurants do not want to continue, retire and sell the businesses to someone else. Does Mountain View really want to be known as a series of office buildings? It seems to be going in that direction.


27 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 7, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Wonderful news! I thought when i read about this the other day how sad that Mountain View is changing for the worse. But this is great news thank you Mr. McAlister!
Now if we can get affordable housing so our kids can leave here, too. That would also be wonderful news!


7 people like this
Posted by Absalom
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Absalom is a registered user.

Owning a business can be a two part enterprise. Sometimes the business owner gets the chance to buy the property that they have been renting due to changes with the landlord. Now the business owner becomes the landlord. The business owner will fix the roof and pay the mortgage.
But they also continue making pancakes or repairing shoes or scooping ice cream or selling insurance or repairing cars. The business goes on and the anxiety of rent increases and relocation fears go away ... until; it is time to retire.
The business may have seen better days, the plumbing in the building might require major repairs that the City may not permit, the rest of the street has turned into looming ugly buildings that the City has previously allowed which has increased the value of the business owners land.
The landlord isn't getting younger. He is ready to move on. The business which served the community and fed the business owner's family has gotten too hard to operate. The children were educated and took their own career paths, leaving nobody to follow the owner in the business. Income for the business may have plummeted. Renovations needed for building repairs require a bank loan that no longer can be obtained because of the age of the owner.
Should retirement wait after years of serving the community by the business owner who had the good fortune of buying their own property? Ultimately, the economic value of the business owner's life was not in the business, but in the property which the business nurtured.


7 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:22 pm

The proposal wasn't to tear down the Weilheimer house (Chez TJ), it was to move it down the street so it could be preserved. Meanwhile, there is a toxic plume nearby that needs excavation. This was also part of the project. The proposed building met the precise plan, and the developer would have paid to move and save the house while constructing a new business with first floor retail. It seemed a good arrangement, and I'm disappointed that will not happen. I not sure why John changed his mind and I hope the parties can come up with a suitable way to move forward.


14 people like this
Posted by Kniqui
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 11:02 pm

I am delighted that there may be a possibility to keep Chez TJ and Tied House.

I dislike the idea of bringing more tech businesses into the downtown, however,if you must bring them, tear down that eyesore vacant restaurant next to Ava's.


9 people like this
Posted by Sane Mountain View
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 8, 2017 at 9:19 am

Sane Mountain View is a registered user.

@Steve Actually the toxins at 954 / Tied don't need to move. The state reports say the situation is "stable" and the building is perfectly fine to use with a ventilation system in place now. Mountain View is full of sites with toxins underground, and while it's great to clean up, not at the expense of historic treasures if the situation is stable.

@property tax payer and ALL: Ken M is a famous troll. I've never been on a non-redit thread and seen his work in a setting like this. It's a proud moment with a Mountain View zoning issue gets trolled by Ken M.

Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Dec 8, 2017 at 9:45 am

Great news, I always wondered why we could not preserve our history. East coast cities have lots of restrictions for their historic buildings and the building owners live with those just fine. Yes you need to replace utilities and upgrade the interior, that's the case with all buildings.


3 people like this
Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 8, 2017 at 2:48 pm

About time something good happens in this town. Please keep Chez TJ. I would like to see Monte Carlo close up though.


10 people like this
Posted by Vladimir Lenin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2017 at 12:22 am

The People's Socialist Republic of Mountain View is in full regalia. No one is free to live their life without getting permission. You shall continue sucking on the teat of government. You shall not want. You shall not have. You must whine and pander over insignificant, ugly, and poorly executed buildings. Change will be outlawed, and poverty embraced. We can become the next Oakland and East Palo Alto!

Congratulations on browbeating the McAlister into compliance. I expect this Marxist zealotry from my disciple the Abe-Koga, but the McAlister? Good work comrade.

All means of production and wealth creation must be limited, controlled, and regulated. Free will must be abolished.

Dialecticly yours,

Ilyich


10 people like this
Posted by ThinkOfTheFuture
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2017 at 8:03 am

This building is not historic. It is old. There is a difference.

People do not seek this building out for any historical reason.


6 people like this
Posted by Annie
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 12, 2017 at 2:22 pm

My God while people are living in RVs and moving to Stockton or enduring 2 hour commutes to work in Mountain View (many of them teachers who contribute to your housing prices being so overinflated due to top schools), you'd think we could build some HOUSING there instead of more damn offices. What does our community NEED?!


7 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 14, 2017 at 12:22 am

Bill is a registered user.

These buildings are old, but otherwise historically meaningless. They should be demolished and replaced with new buildings that will generate more tax revenue for the City.


3 people like this
Posted by Patrick
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Dec 14, 2017 at 9:45 am

Old does not mean historic.


6 people like this
Posted by Big Picture
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 14, 2017 at 10:10 am

@Bill:
You may want to check the source of your information. By Mountain View standards, the Weilheimer House isn't the least bit "historically meaningless," considering the family that built it in the 19th Century and the dignitaries (relatively speaking) who've lived there. On top of that, it's one of the best examples for miles around of intact, well-maintained Victorian-era buildings.

Even if that weren't the case, don't you think that the visual and architectural relief the Weilheimer House provides Villa St. -- in contrast to the large, cold, square-ish boxes that office buildings impose on streetscapes -- give our downtown a distinct appeal, which draws visitors who patronize downtown business, which, yes, generate tax revenue for the city?

It's time we look at the big picture -- instead of big buildings!


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