Developer wants to replace Mollie Stone’s with a 17-story apartment tower — city says it won’t happen

Redco Development LLC's plan for a three-tower complex that wouid replace Mollie Stone's at 156 California Ave.

A San Francisco developer, taking advantage of the “builder’s remedy” provision of state law, has submitted plans for a 17-story apartment tower on the Mollie Stone’s site at 156 California Ave.

But the city of Palo Alto says the project is dead on arrival.

Redco Development LLC apparently believes it can blow past Palo Alto’s zoning restrictions — such as the 50-foot height limit — because the city doesn’t have an approved Housing Element, a plan for where additional homes would go. If a city does not plan for the number of homes required by the state, the city has to approve any housing project as long as at least 20% of the homes are low-income or 100% of them are moderate-income.

On the city’s webpage describing the Redco application, city officials wrote: “The city’s position has been that the Builder’s Remedy does not apply because the city has an adopted Housing Element, which it believes is compliant with the basic requirements of state law.”

Redco, on its website, said it formed a joint venture this month with Mollie Stone’s to build the towers on the grocery store’s site at the end of California Avenue.

Coincidentally, Mollie Stone’s formed the joint venture the same month the Palo Alto City Council decided to close California Avenue to cars, which many fear will lead to more vacancies on the once-vibrant street.

Redco Development LLC, headed in the Bay Area by Chris Freise, has submitted plans for three buildings. The tallest would be 17 stories (177 feet) with apartments. The second would be an 11 story (123 foot) tower and the third would be seven stories that would contain a new, 15,000 Mollie Stone’s Market and other retail.

The project would have 382 apartments, and 77 of them would be for renters who qualify for below-market rates.

Redco currently is developing 126 apartments in a seven story complex at 940 Willow St. in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood. In Berkeley, Redco is proposing a 210,000-square-foot life sciences facility at 742 Grayson St. The company has several other projects in the works.


  1. Isn’t “Builders Remedy” called “Berman’s Remedy” due to his consistent support of any and all huge projects that satisfy his backers and need for more campaign contributions, now way past $1,000,000 than his opponent Mayor Kou?

    Funny how the YIMBY’s backtrack on the most egregiously huge and out-of-character projects saying, “Oh, no. This isn’t what the laws we backed were supposed to produce.”

  2. I was worried that this meant Mollie Stone’s was closing! 17 floors feels like a bit much, but having a few floors of apartments above a grocery shop sounds perfect for the people living there – I’d love to go downstairs to get groceries!!

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