Palo Alto Faces Skyline Transformation with Proposed 17-Story Housing Developments

Palo Alto Faces Skyline Transformation with Proposed 17-Story Housing DevelopmentsSource: City of Palo Alto
Tony Ng
Published on November 28, 2023

In a bold move that could dramatically reshape the skyline of Silicon Valley's Palo Alto, Redco Development has teamed up with Midar Investment Co. to propose a towering three-building housing development, including an imposing 17-story skyscraper. The project aims to replace the current Mollie Stone's Market building at 156 California Ave, as a source informed The Business Journal.

The development is designed by San Jose-based Studio Current and would be the largest in the area, rivaled only by the Hoover Tower at Stanford University and an office building at 525 University Ave. Despite the potential for opposition due to its height, Redco managing partner Chris Freise is confident, telling The Business Journal, "I know people are saying that it's the third tallest building in Palo Alto, but these types of approximate heights already exist in several areas such as Palo Alto Square, Channing House, 101 Alma, and City Hall."

With 382 planned residences and 77 designated for affordable housing, the development plays into Palo Alto's urgent housing needs, standing as a stark contrast to the city's traditional low-rise character. The project, as detailed on Redco Development's official site, not only supports housing concerns but also promises to revitalize local businesses and the customer experience by reorienting Mollie Stone's entrance to directly face California Avenue—a street now permanently pedestrianized.

Navigating bureaucratic waters, Redco and Midar are invoking the 'builder's remedy', a state law provision that could sidestep local zoning for cities not in compliance with state housing law quotas. Palo Alto, tasked with creating 6,086 new homes, has yet to gain state approval for their housing plan, making the city susceptible to the builder's initiative, though it disputes this, claiming basic compliance with state requirements as per the City of Palo Alto. However, attorney Daniel Golub, representing Midar, countered in a letter to the city's planning department, asserting that "Only the state Housing and Economic Development Department can determine whether a city is in substantial compliance with the law."