Developer told to find a new place for Feldman’s

Menlo Park's Feldman's Bookstore, 1170 El Camino Real, and the former Gentry Magazine building, 1162 El Camino, could be demolished to make way for nine apartments.
Menlo Park's Feldman's Bookstore, 1170 El Camino Real, and the former Gentry Magazine building, 1162 El Camino, could be demolished to make way for nine apartments. Google photo.

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

The Menlo Park Planning Commission has told the builders who want to redevelop Feldman’s Bookstore to try to find another location for the store and consider adding more housing on the site.

Local developers Chase Rapp and Brady Fuerst want to demolish Feldman’s at 1170 El Camino Real and the former Gentry Magazine building at 1162 El Camino and build nine apartments.

Five regulars of Feldman’s went to the microphone on Monday and pleaded with Rapp and the commission to come up with a way to preserve Feldman’s.

“We see movies all the time of the evil developer taking away the community center, like in ‘Electric Boogaloo,’ ” said resident Charlotte Layton. “I think there is a way where we can find a place for Feldman’s.”
Resident Adrian Stone held up examples of some of the gems found at Feldman’s, such as a first edition of Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” and numerous other rare books. She said the store is accessible to everyone because the average price of a paperback is just $7.

Dozens of emails from residents

Aside from the five who spoke last night, the city has received dozens of emails from residents and customers of Feldman’s pleading for the city to find a way to keep the store.

Commission Chair Andrew Barnes asked the developers if they would be willing to rent out space to Feldman’s in one of their other developments on Santa Cruz Avenue.

Rapp said he’s told Feldman’s that he’s willing to host the bookstore in another location, but not necessarily in the new Santa Cruz Avenue project.

Subsidized rent proposed

Furthermore, he said he’d like to see Feldman’s owner take some “initiative” to look at other spaces. Rapp also asked if the city would be willing to subsidize Feldman’s rent.

The commission cannot force Rapp and Fuerst to keep the bookstore under state law, because the site is zoned for housing.

As long as the project is compliant with architectural standards for the area, it needs to be approved. The only thing that the commission can do is give guidance to Rapp and Fuerst on how to improve the project.

Barnes asked the developers why they hadn’t considered adding more stories to the development in order to add more housing.

Concern about parking

The developers said they have not discussed adding more homes, because they thought the approval process would go faster if they did everything by the book.

Fuerst also said that they are worried about fitting the required parking for the project if they make the development larger.

Commissioner Chris DeCardy said he had a hard time understanding the claim that parking was keeping developers from building more on the site, especially given the site’s proximity to the train station.

Fuerst and Rapp will work on the project more and bring it back for another study session once they submit a revised plan.

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