City Council urged to put off vote on new car dealership

1700 embarcadero
A New Jersey chain of car dealers will build showroom and maintenance garage at Embarcadero and E. Bayshore roads on the east side of Highway 101 in Palo Alto. Illustration by YSM Design.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Six Palo Alto residents — including former mayor Karen Holman — are calling for the Palo Alto City Council to hold off on considering a project to replace Ming’s Restaurant because an advisory board has not voted on the project yet.

The project, proposed by Lyle Hutson of New Jersey-based Holman Automotive Group Inc., will be before City Council on Monday (June 24) for possible approval. The group of residents says that before the project goes to council, the city’s Architectural Review Board needs to vote on it.

“This is a massive project and is the gateway to our Baylands,” said resident Terry Holzemer.

The back corner of the project touches the city’s Baylands, but the other side is surrounded by offices and Anderson Honda. The proposed combination Mercedes-Benz and Audi dealership at 1700 and 1730 Embarcadero Road would occupy a single, two-story building of 84,900 square feet.

The city process

Both the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) and the Architectural Review Board (ARB) have reviewed the project. The PTC approved the project in March on a 4-3 vote. The ARB held three hearings, but hasn’t voted on it.

But Holzmer and the others who spoke at council’s Monday meeting claim that since the ARB never voted on the project, it shouldn’t go to council for final approval.

At the ARB’s June 6 meeting, the board voiced concerns about the project’s color, landscaping and whether a green screen should be built along the Baylands.

Since any changes that the ARB would impose on the developer would not dramatically change the project, Planning Director Jonathan Lait is suggesting that next Monday the council vote on the project, and then have the ARB review the project one more time to weigh in on any details it wants tweaked.

Why the rush?

But that rubbed some people, including former mayor Holman, the wrong way.

“I really don’t want to be here tonight, but I wondered how the staff report could be so in error,” Holman said on Monday. “This project is going to be built and standing there for 30 to 50 years. I don’t know why the rush when the applicant said a fourth meeting is fine.”

The project has been in the city application process for just over a year.

The project is on council’s agenda for next Monday (June 24), the last meeting it will have before taking a summer recess.

1 Comment

  1. “This is a massive project and is the gateway to our Baylands”

    Really? I walk and bike in the Baylands all the time and I’ve never gone through this property to get there. The access points are in other places. It’s not the gateway. I haven’t even noticed this property before except when it was Ming’s.

    To say it’s the “gateway” is a stretch. I there another reason these people are trying to block this dealership? The protection-of-the-baylands argument seems weak and I’ve got to wonder if there is a hidden agenda going on here.

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