Mountain View pushes ambitious development plans, developer calls them unrealistic

Mountain View pushes ambitious development plans, developer calls them unrealistic
Photo Credit: City of Mountain View
By Wesley Severson - Published on August 25, 2021.

A project that was slated to transform a large section of the city of Mountain View now appears to be losing momentum because of disputes from one of the developers. Proposals for the so-called ‘Gateway’ site east of Highway 101 at Shoreline Boulevard have been in the works for more than two years but the two owners of the properties, Google and SyWest, have failed to come up with an agreement on development plans. In response, the city of Mountain View decided to create a master plan of its own for the property that it had hoped the two companies would sign off on.

SyWest claims that the current plans the city is now pushing for the ‘Gateway Master Plan’ are unrealistic and don’t make sense financially. "We are dismayed to see the city essentially 'force' their conclusion to this process without actual buy-in and support of the property owners most directly affected by this plan. We believe our input has been largely dismissed and must oppose this master plan in its current form," SyWest President Bill Vierra said in a letter to the city of Mountain View obtained by Mountain View Voice.

The city’s plan for the 30-acre site includes 300,000 square feet of commercial space for shops, restaurants, and hotels next to buildings that would house up to 500,000 square feet of offices. There would also be parks, plazas, and fitness areas. There is also a stipulation on housing construction. 500 residential units must be ready to be rented before any of the office space can open.

SyWest, which owns 16 acres of the site, appears to be concerned about what could become permanent changes to the retail experience at the hand of the coronavirus pandemic. SyWest has not stated what changes it wants to see. "No one can honestly assume that unanchored small retail and restaurant density nearing 100,000 square feet that must line streetfronts is, or ever will be again, 'feasible' in a post-COVID world," Vierra wrote in the letter obtained by Mountain View Voice.

City officials are now looking for ways to sway SyWest to get on board with its plan. The city could hand over some of its vacant office space in North Bayshore to SyWest to make the Gateway project less of a financial burden on the company. "That could become part of the equation, perhaps as some currency or more attractive amount of office square footage that can help make a larger development more feasible," Senior City Planner Martin Alkire told Mountain View Voice.

The letter from SyWest has some officials wanting the city to take a closer look at the financial feasibility of the Gateway Master Plan but so far Mountain View has not said whether it will look into the viability claims by SyWest.