City approves four-story downtown office project

Parking for office remains in limbo

Right across from Mountain View's main transit center, a new four-story office building is being slated for development. At its Monday, Nov. 18 meeting, the City Council gave unanimous approval to plans by the San Francisco-based firm Marwood to build a new 28,000-square-foot office complex in the heart of downtown.

Located at the corner of West Evelyn Avenue and Hope Street, the lot where the new office building would go is currently occupied by a Subway franchise and low-density commercial space. Those buildings would need to be demolished to make way for the office tower, but Marwood representatives promised they would include about 6,500 square feet of new retail space on the ground floor.

"We feel this will deliver a suite of benefits to the city and the public," said Tim McEnery, Marwood director. "We want to improve the downtown existence and we're trying to go beyond our commitments."

More challenging was the issue of parking, which has been a major hurdle for most downtown development. Under the city's criteria, Marwood is required to provide at least 71 parking spaces, 25 of which would be available to the public at all hours of the day. City staff reported that the only way this much parking could fit on the site is by building an underground garage that would go at least three stories down. But even that plan presents problems because the Hope Street lot is so small that most of the space needed for an underground garage would be consumed by its car ramps.

Last year, city leaders proposed solving this dilemma by encouraging the Marwood team to cooperate with another development firm that is building a larger underground garage at the adjacent property. That other firm, the Robert Green Company, is planning to start construction late next year on a 180-room hotel and office complex that would be built on two city-owned parking lots. When built, this project will include an underground garage with 385 spaces. If this underground garage could be expanded to include the Marwood property, city officials estimated they could fit an additional 82 parking spaces.

For Marwood's team, that cooperation sounded good in concept, but the deal quickly soured as they complained they were getting saddled with all the expenses. Robert Green officials reportedly demanded Marwood pay for easements to the garage and a host of other expenses associated with expanding the garage. Since partnering on the shared garage, Marwood has been forced to pay more than $1 million in design, legal and other costs.

In the end, the expenses were becoming too much, said Vincent Woo, Marwood development manager. When added up, these accrued expenses would cause each parking space to cost up to four times more than usual, he said.

As an alternative, Marwood representatives proposed other parking options, such as a new off-site parking garage that would be built about two blocks away on the city-owned parking lot at the corner of California and Hope streets. If built, this garage could hold up to 360 vehicles, city officials estimate. Marwood would provide the city $8 million to help build this parking garage, but the city would be responsible for any extra costs.

City Manager Dan Rich acknowledged that trying to find any answer to the parking issue wouldn't be easy, and it would require nuanced negotiations on ownership, liability, easements and maintenance. At this time, he urged council members to consider the Evelyn Avenue development on its own, and to set aside the parking requirements. With council approval, city staff would enter into talks with the developers to hash out details that could then be brought back for public review at a later date, he said.

"There's significant discussions that would need to occur before anything would be brought back," Rich said. "We simply want to know if you're interested in exploring these options."

To that question, City Council members signaled they were eager to give it a try. In approving the project, the City Council asked staff to come back with an analysis on all of the parking options.

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4 people like this
Posted by --
a resident of Willowgate
on Nov 22, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Why is parking an issue for an office building and retail that is immediately adjacent to the train station/transit center?

24 people like this
Posted by Why is parking an issue?? Seriously?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Why is parking a requirement?? Because if you live anywhere west of ECR (most affluent areas) you need a place to park your TESLA and you do not DO public transportation; because if these commerical tenants have clients they will most likely DRIVE to the meetings. City Manager is irresponsible in giving developers a pass on parking requirement.

As much as our city wants to pretend we are Manhattan we are not, we are a suburb with lousy public transportation. Try taking CALTRAIN mid-day or on weekends, once an hour, ridiculous.

19 people like this
Posted by Jake O.
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Nov 22, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Tim McEnery really doesn't know what he's talking about because in reality the last thing this City needs is more office space. Perhaps it even shows that the city council doesn't care as much about housing as they pretend to

15 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm

Silly City Council. approving construction all over city that will result in a great many unsolvable problems, parking is just one, pollution from all the new cars is worse, then there is blight, crowding, traffic nightmares , eventually there will be water supply problems, and of course lots of other problems
Fight all this nonsense

10 people like this
Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 22, 2019 at 4:43 pm

How the he$$ did this get unanimous approval!? Alison Hicks ran on "save the downtown", iirc.

And love this line from Tim McEnery - "we want to improve the downtown existence...". He really should be in politics. Next he'll be telling us that everyone is going to arrive on the train.

And downtown is just fine WITHOUT the increased density and traffic,TYVM!

11 people like this
Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 23, 2019 at 11:02 am

Polomom is a registered user.

Why on earth do we need another office complex in downtown? Didn't some start ups leave downtown because of continuous car break ins? When the Tide House block was considered for the construction of offices an entire group of activists got busy. How is this different, Mrs Hicks? Our downtown is definitely making the list of areas in Silicon Valley to avoid. The congestion, lack of parking and soon big construction sites. I feel sorry for the small business owners adjacent to these projects. Our main problem in MV is the lack of vision and willingness to say "no" to a developer. We seem to think, if we don't allow all projects put in front of us by developers, we will miss out and some other city will profit.

11 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2019 at 12:09 pm

Its all about the money! Commercial properties net more tax $$$ than residential.
The only recourse is to vote them all out of office.

I think it should be mandatory for all public officials to have to use public transportation every week. Maybe then they will understand that it is a joke.

7 people like this
Posted by Anela Rose
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Nov 23, 2019 at 3:30 pm

so.... time for a new city council....

5 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Bailey Park
on Nov 23, 2019 at 5:46 pm

Waaaay back in the day,

"Located at the corner of West Evelyn Avenue and Hope Street, the lot where the new office building would go is currently occupied by a Subway franchise"

I do not remember the name anymore of that store, which is now Subway, but I used to buy baby chicks from them. Used to have chickens for the eggs.

Those where the really good old days. But times change, but not always for the best.

Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 25, 2019 at 9:47 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

This seems early-in-the-process. I also hope Councilwoman Hicks has a better planner-in-the-past way of approaching this TRANSPORTION dilemma. It will not be solved by 'promises of future parking'. Even dear old Lenney did not get the MANDATE of RESIDENTIAL BUILD and Finished before more office build / or TRANSPORTATION BUILT and Finished before more office build.

RECYCLED MATERIAL Public Garages (multi-story). Plan Alto has at least one very interesting 80 recyclable material multi-story downtown public garage. The 7 level steel structure of the Webster/Cooper St. garage is made of massive steel beams. Think - big city steel skyscraper! If the developers - paid for the foundations and steel superstructure of such an edifice (let them design and contract for it) then the city could finish off (floors and ramps and stairways).
street view (Google maps)
Web Link

Reuse the existing design style from Palo Alto, maybe 5 total levels (1 below ground level). BTW the PA public parking structure is completely covered with solar-electric power panels! (satellite view Google maps)

what do you think? build "required parking" before office occupancy allowed. ? (that Hope/California lot seems a vast underutilization of a current city investment)

3 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 28, 2019 at 2:09 pm

SRB is a registered user.

@MV Voice - was the project approved with conditions? If so, what guarantees are there that parking will be provided when office workers move in?

In line with Steven Nelson's post, how about a parking - office linkage, nobody can move in until parking spaces are built (on site or somewhere else as suggested by developer)?

Like this comment
Posted by San Antonio Dumping Ground
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 2, 2019 at 3:30 pm

This 28,000 sq ft office is chump change compared to what is proposed at the former Milk Pail site.

On December 3, 2019 at 6:30 pm, Mountain View City Council wild hold a “Gatekeeper” application hearing for a 190,000 square foot office building with ground floor retail to be built on the old Milk Pail location.

The hearing will be at 500 Castro Street in Council Chambers.

Why no MV Voice coverage on this???

Attend the meeting and/or write to council at

Here is a link to the full proposal: Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Mark Noack
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 2, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Mark Noack is a registered user.

@San Antonio Dumping Ground

We've written stories on every leg of this development! See our last story from September:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Former Planner
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 2, 2019 at 4:31 pm

A lot of silly comments from non-planners who have no clue about the benefits vs. the costs of development. This development will improve the current site and impose little in costs to the neighborhood, which will benefit by having their homes go up in value.

Like this comment
Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 4, 2019 at 8:52 am

Polomom is a registered user.

@Former Planner It would have made a lot more sense to build something like thisWeb Link Centrally located, train station close by and plenty of minimum wage jobs in downtown. More tech workers in downtown will just create more housing issues in our city.

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