Menlo Park & Its Role in the Region
A "sustainable" project is often assumed to mean that it is environmentally "correct." However, sustainability has a broader context – one that encompasses a project's economic, social, and regional responsibility. A sustainable project helps preserve a community's character. Fund its services. And strengthen its relationships with neighboring communities.
Location and Shape Influence Growth
Menlo Park's location and unique shape provide benefits – and disadvantages. The city is cut into three distinct sections by major north-south traffic arterials: Highway 280, El Camino Real, and Highway 101. Although Menlo Park benefits from proximity to Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, and easy access to San Francisco, the continuous stream of traffic through Menlo Park increases congestion with little benefit to the city.
Home to Knowledge and Information
Menlo Park is home to one of the world's leading venture capital communities, concentrated along Sand Hill Road. Venture capital firms originally moved to Menlo Park for its proximity to technology research being conducted at Stanford University, Xerox PARC, and early Silicon Valley firms. Knowledge-based businesses – such as investment banking, intellectual property law firms, and others that support the business activities of emerging technology companies – quickly followed. Today, Menlo Park's prestigious address and its proximity to Stanford University, Silicon Valley, and the venture capital community provide a powerful draw for companies to locate here.
A Shifting Economy Shifts Business Needs
In the past, Menlo Park derived much of its tax revenue from auto dealerships along the El Camino Real and from its older industrial areas. Over time, automobile selling strategies changed and manufacturing gave way to technology, causing business tax revenue to erode. Now, many of the remaining businesses and industries are becoming obsolete. They simply do not meet the needs of Silicon Valley's highly sophisticated, knowledge-based industries.
Palo Alto and Redwood City Attractive to Business
Meanwhile, neighboring Palo Alto, Redwood City, and Mountain View have actively encouraged business growth, welcoming knowledge-based companies and maximizing the use of available properties. Recent development projects in these areas attract well-known companies, such as Google, whose young, savvy workforces want to work for progressive, "green" companies with prestigious addresses, a rich working environment, and high levels of amenities.
Existing industrial properties within Menlo Park, such as the Bohannon Industrial Park, which lies east of Highway 101, have outlived their functionality and do not meet the complex needs of knowledge-based businesses. As a result, these businesses look elsewhere for office space.
All Impact, Few Benefits
New developments in neighboring communities continue to attract knowledge-based businesses away from Menlo Park. Workers living in San Francisco commute to Silicon Valley, while South Bay workers commute to San Francisco. The result for Menlo Park is that the city absorbs the traffic impacts from growth to the north and south – but reaps none of the financial benefits that would accrue from desirable businesses locating here.
Menlo Gateway will provide a highly desirable address for knowledge-based business and their employees. No new roads will be needed, and the project is centrally located to Highway 101 and Bayfront Expressway, which provide easy access to the north/south Peninsula and over the Dumbarton Bridge into the East Bay. Many commuters and residents who historically have passed through Menlo Park on their way to San Francisco or the South Bay to work will now have the opportunity to work in Menlo Park.
To promote a balance of transportation needs for Menlo Gateway, a multi-modal approach has been developed, which provides priority parking spaces for carpools and vanpools, bicycle parking, and new sidewalk improvements. Menlo Gateway will provide a direct connection to Caltrain by utilizing existing and relocated shuttle stops. Finally, the project's development mix will support convenient interaction between the offices, hotel, health club, and restaurants.
The transportation evaluation for the project is being conducted as part of a larger environmental analysis effort led by the City of Menlo Park. The results of that evaluation will be available for review when the Draft Environmental Impact Report is released during summer 2009. The Menlo Gateway team has worked closely with the City of Menlo Park since the project's inception to understand and address the project's transportation consequences. We will continue to work with the city throughout the environmental process.