Builders Remedy for 300-Foot Tower Floated at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park

80 Willow Road aerial view, image via Embarcadero Capital Partner80 Willow Road aerial view, image via Embarcadero Capital Partner

New plans have been submitted for a four-structure mixed-use development with a 300-foot tower at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park, San Mateo County. If built, the project would become the second tallest structure in San Mateo County by using the Builder’s Remedy, possibly creating hundreds of homes, hotel rooms, office space, and retail. Oisin Heneghan, the founder of N17 Development, is listed as the project applicant.

YIMBY can confirm that the developer has submitted two permits for 80 Willow Road using Senate Bill 330 but can’t confirm any further details. We contacted the Menlo Park Planning Department and Heneghan, but neither could comment to confirm the original reporting.

80 Willow Road interior, rendering by Embarcadero Capital Partner

80 Willow Road interior, rendering by Embarcadero Capital Partner

Emily Mibach first reported the story for the Palo Alto Daily Post circulating in print. The outlet states that the project would create four structures, the tallest of which is 300 feet and the second tallest at 270 feet. The preliminary draft envisions 800 to 1,150 apartments, a 150-key hotel, between 50,000 to 280,000 square feet of offices, and retail. A certain percentage of the housing will be designated as affordable. Mibach has yet to respond to a request for confirmation.

Prior to founding N17 Development last month, Heneghan was the Senior Vice President at Trammell Crow Company in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to his LinkedIn profile. At Trammell Crow, Heneghan was involved with developing offices, life science projects, and multi-family housing. Before joining Trammel Crow in 2016, he oversaw Heneghan Engineering for just over a decade. In a recent post, Heneghan shared that “I started a new real estate developer company called N17. We have some exciting announcements coming soon #buildersremedy.”

80 Willow Road, image via Google Satellite

80 Willow Road, image via Google Satellite

The existing property at 80 Willow Road is the former Sunset Magazine headquarters, right on the border with Santa Clara County and Downtown Palo Alto. The historic structure was built in 1951 by architect Cliff May. The building exemplifies the work of the architect credited as the father of the modest California Ranch House and a contributor to Mid-century Modern design in the suburban landscape. The publisher vacated 80 Willow Road for Oakland in 2015.

The site is close to the proposed mixed-use Parkline redevelopment of the SRI International office campus by Lane Partners. The nearest tall building to 80 Willow Road is the 237-foot-tall Palo Alto Office Center at 525 University Avenue. The tallest structure in Palo Alto is the 285-foot Hoover Tower, located in the center of the Stanford University campus.

Currently, the tallest building in San Mateo County is the Genesis North Tower in South San Francisco. The SOM-designed building stands 317 feet tall over Freeway 101. SOM is also responsible for the proposed 295-foot life science building at 121 East Grand Avenue next to the South City Caltrain Station. If built, 80 Willow Road would match the height of the tallest building in San Jose, the recently-completed 200 Park Avenue developed by Jay Paul Company.

Update: Embarcadero Capital Partner is not the property owner, though the firm’s office address is attached to the permit application. 

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21 Comments on "Builders Remedy for 300-Foot Tower Floated at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park"

  1. BUILD IT NOW! 😍

  2. Peanut Gallery | July 21, 2023 at 9:27 am | Reply

    Dare to dream, N17 Development. Dare to dream.

  3. Please make this happen. 🙏

  4. They took all the trees put ’em in a tree museum
    And they charged the people a dollar an’ a half just to see ’em
    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
    Joni Mitchell

  5. Carl: low density suburban sprawl is one of the reasons trees and open space disappear.

  6. The Builders Remedy? This Cliff May is a crucial landmark of California history. What we are witnessing is simply lack of imagination. What we need is The Architects Remedy — keep the Cliff May and build around it. Trust me: it will still pencil.

    • They didn’t say they were going to demolish the existing buildings. It is a 7 acre campus.

      • Gage, of course they would demolish the sprawling, centrally-sited one-story structures to make way for the proposed towers–there would be no other option.

  7. Mountain View also needs 3oo feet towers in downtown.

  8. Build it!!

    It is downright embarrassing for this much land in such an expensive, prime location to have such a low-density wastage.

    Plus, where are the VCs? I would think stupid VCs would want all their startups to be in one building for efficient visitation and other scale.

  9. It would be great if this were built, but I doubt it. This is like taking on the Mordor of NIMBYism.

    But if built, it would move the entire center of gravity of Downtown PA somewhat, and bring the whole area much closer to critical mass.

  10. That will lead to a huge uprising among Menlo Park residents and I expect several lawsuits. What a stupid idea that does not fit with the city and especially with the neighborhood.

    • The city of Menlo Park chose builder’s remedy by not doing their job. Where were the lawsuits when the city failed to present a reasonable plan for building enough housing? This development is better than anything Menlo Park has been capable of planning for itself.

  11. Amazing! Let’s build it ASAP

  12. We need skyscrapers!
    Do it right for once.
    Higher is always better!

    Quicksand Earthquake

    • Clearly the Japanese have been so scared of trying newer and more innovative stuff than us scared and fear mongering Americans.

  13. Brian said :

    “What a stupid idea that does not fit with the city and especially with the neighborhood.”

    What is funny is that you don’t grasp the difference between past and future.

    By your ‘logic’, all the current structures should also be demolished, since they represent too much of a change from what was there in the 1920s. Or the 1840s for that matter.

    Shame on you for being a regressive luddite.

  14. Considering that CalTrain has fallen to 20% of pre-Covid usage on weekdays, projects like this HAVE to be done.
    If there is one thing that the State and even Federal Govt. will never let happen, it is allow a major public transit system to go defunct. Increasing supply of housing is what the bigger governments will force through.

    The thing is, even towers like this won’t get CalTrain back to pre-Covid usage levels.

  15. Brian says :

    “I expect several lawsuits”

    I don’t think you grasp what Builder’s Remedy is. It is a response to MP’s failure to comply with the law.

    “What a stupid idea that does not fit with the city and especially with the neighborhood.”

    Typical NIMBY who has no idea that there was a world before his birth, and there will be a world after him.

    The ‘neighborhood’ that you think should be set in stone, did it exist in 1920? In 1820 (when CA was not even part of the United States)? In 1720?

    Stop standing athwart human progress.

  16. It’s clear that all of the high-density-development fanboys dropping supportive comments herein like so many deuces have never been to the area in question. There’s simply no way the proposed project would work at this location, given the two-lane roads feeding the project site (roads which are already overrun with traffic and which can never be widened) and given its proximity to San Francisquito Creek (hello, CEQA). And, yes, the existing Cliff May structures would need to be torn down were this colossal joke (or any significant redevelopment) ever to move forward. Methinks this Oisin gongfermor is merely shooting across the bow with the builder’s remedy nonsense so that his eventual 200-foot-tall proposal will be seen as “compromise.”

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