SyWest courts mobile home neighbors of Gateway development

While Google works with city, SyWest chats up plans at Santiago Villa

Google and SyWest, both major property owners of a disputed North Bayshore site targeted for redevelopment since 2013, are hoping to emerge as winners when Mountain View city staff redesigns their conflicting proposals.

Google, which acquired 8 acres of the Gateway site at the southeast corner of the site where Highway 101 meets Shoreline Boulevard thanks to a land-swap deal with LinkedIn, is hoping to win over the city.

SyWest, which owns the other 16 acres and already had approval to develop the whole site when it was partnered with LinkedIn, is hoping to win over the project's only residential neighbors.

Mountain View officials would like to see a cooperative use for the site in line with their future vision for North Bayshore, transforming from an office park to a mixed-use residential neighborhood.

SyWest President Bill Vierra spoke at the monthly meeting of the Santiago Villa Neighborhood Association in April after the City Council voted 6-1 to reject both developers' proposals and have city staff go back to the drawing board at its Feb. 21 meeting.

The association represents more than 300 homeowners in a mobile home park to the northeast of SyWest's property, which includes Century Cinema 16 and its sprawling parking lot.

As for why he would present neighbors with a plan the council had already turned down, Vierra said, "We didn't want to throw the drawings away and we don't want to throw the vision away." And when residents wanted to know whether there was any hope for negotiations to resume with Google, he said, "We still have different visions for the project."

Members of the neighborhood association say they want to be heard as the city and developers plan to bring thousands of new housing units and perhaps more than 1 million new square feet of office space to their backyard.

"SyWest's development team was thoughtful and courteous while presenting their Gateway plan to us," said Bee Hanson, a Santiago Villa resident. "But residents expressed concern that it would exacerbate our existing traffic problems and do little to serve our large population of seniors."

Residents at Santiago Villa also commented that SyWest didn't come to meet with them until after the developer made its presentation to the City Council, not during the years of negotiations with Google, or LinkedIn before that.

The elected leader of the neighborhood association noted that the city hasn't reached out to its residents either.

"It is odd the city did not ask for community input from the developer," said Trey Bornmann, Santiago Villa Neighborhood Association's president. "We have monthly meetings and would love to help plan our own neighborhood and offer local insights into problems others can easily overlook. Neighborhood input should be a top consideration of the council when reviewing proposals."

The major difference between the proposals boils down to where the office space will be located on the site. SyWest says it needs the vast majority of the proposed space to subsidize the affordable housing and community space components of its proposal. Some residents said that it seemed like a high price to pay for a project with only 100 units of affordable housing and some commercial space with outdoor elements.

"It's depressing to think that housing is effectively a loss leader in a development like this," said Santiago Villa resident John Waters.

Meanwhile, a Google representative says the company is ready to follow the city's lead.

"We remain committed to the city-led master planning process, and look forward to their direction on next steps and how we can do our part to deliver housing, transportation solutions and other community benefits while fulfilling the policy objectives and requirements of the North Bayshore Precise Plan," said Michael Tymoff, Google's Mountain View district development director.

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Like this comment
Posted by Thorton
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2019 at 4:00 am

I would like to see an ice skating rink put there for youth hockey and ice skating. Both Cupertino and Redwood City are really old and outdated.
A Sharks youth hockey rink to bring my grandkids to.

And if that aint going to happen how about a state of the art gym?

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