Large apartment development draws praise and concerns

The area in yellow shows where Woodland Park Communities plans to tear down existing buildings and replace them with a 605-apartment complex.

Daily Post Staff Writer

A proposal by Sand Hill Property Co. to tear down 160 Woodland Park apartments and replace them with 605 apartments was met with some praise and apprehension Monday (May 6) during the East Palo Alto Planning Commission’s first look at the project.

Residents of the apartments along Euclid and Manhattan avenues would be relocated within the complex during construction, and would have the ability to move into the new apartments at their old rent, said Sand Hill Managing Director Mike Kramer.

Project Proposal

Residents such as Patricia Garcia applauded the fact that Sand Hill wasn’t kicking anyone out while their apartments were being rebuilt, but said the density of the new apartments made her nervous.

Garcia lives on nearby East O’Keefe Street, which is often tied up with traffic during commute time. She asked that the proposed 180,000-square-foot office tower at University Circle be included in any traffic analysis that the developer or city does.

Kramer said Sand Hill will create a transportation demand management plan, and would improve the sidewalks in the area in hopes of getting people out of their cars.

Daniel Saver, an attorney with Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, also gave kudos to Sand Hill for its proposed relocation of tenants. But he said he’s still worried that the new apartments, which will likely be rented out at market rate, could lead to gentrification of the area.

Commissioner Kyra Brown said she would like the project to increase the overall number of affordable apartments, not just keep the current 160 affordable.

The project is proposed to be eight stories tall along Euclid and up to 12 stories along Manhattan.

But Kramer said the apartment towers would not be taller than University Circle, which is built on a podium.

The City Council will have a study session on the project in the coming months, and once a formal application has been filed with the city, even more meetings will be held, said Planning and Housing Manager Guido Periscone. A vote on the project is not expected until next year.