BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
The East Palo Alto City Council has put off approving a seven-story office building at Donohoe Street and University Avenue, behind the Chevron, in order to make sure the city gets the best deal possible.
Mayor Lisa Gauthier said at Tuesday’s council meeting that she didn’t want to rush into approving this project, citing the Sobrato Organization’s sister project on the other side of the intersection that caused ire in the community after the council approved it.
The council had allowed Sobrato and Amazon to skirt the city ordinance requiring a good-faith effort to hire 30% of the employees from the city.
“I think with Amazon, it felt like we rushed and made a decision really quickly,” Gauthier said.
Sobrato wants to build less retail
The concession that Sobrato was asking the city for this time around was 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. But Sobrato only wants to build 4,500 square feet of retail.
However, the city would be able to pick the tenants for the retail space, but the rent would still go to Sobrato.
Councilman Carlos Romero said that since Sobrato wants to move the retail off of University and onto Donohoe, it will be easier for Sobrato to rent out the office space. Because of the moving of the retail space, Romero requested that the city get both the full 8,690 square feet of retail space and be able to control it.
Councilman Ruben Abrica appeared to have supported Romero’s idea of expanding the retail space in the project.
Sobrato had proposed that if the city wanted the full 8,690 square feet of retail, that their company would still control who rents the space.
Vice mayor wants library
Vice Mayor Regina Wallace-Jones, who joined in part of the meeting via telephone from Australia, said she wants the project to potentially also feature a library or a more substantial public benefit than a mural.
But because of the late hour in Australia, Wallace-Jones wasn’t able to take part in the full discussion, spurring Gauthier to delay the vote so the vice mayor can give her full feedback when the project returns to council Dec. 17.