BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Tonight (Dec. 3) the East Palo Alto City Council will decide whether to approve a seven-story building at Donohoe Street and University Avenue, replacing Drew Center Pharmacy.
One of the questions facing council is whether to allow the developer, the Sobrato Organization, to build less than the required amount of retail space in the building.
Normally, the city would require retail to cover 35% of the ground floor space, which would be about 7,300 square feet.
However, Sobrato only wants to build 4,500 square feet of retail. However, the city would pick the tenants for the retail space, but the rent would still go to Sobrato or whomever owns the building in the future.
The council tonight will discuss Sobrato’s two proposals for the building and will approve one of them.
The first option shrinks the building down to seven stories — originally the developer wanted eight stories — and increases the retail space to 4,500 square feet. That plan offers $2.4 million in public benefits, including a mural, new bathroom at Bell Park and forgiving the $1 million loan Sobrato granted the city in order to buy water from Mountain View.
The second option also shrinks the building to seven stories, but would include 35% retail space or 7,300 square feet. But this plan grants the city only $1.2 million in benefits, and most of that would be spent on hiring local residents to work at the building.
The city’s planning commission on Oct. 28 voted to recommend the first option, saying that they would prefer letting the city control the retail space for 20 years, which could result in small businesses to opening there.