PALO ALTO — Officials are expected to review a proposal Monday to convert three buildings on San Antonio Road near the Mountain View border into a five-story building with 75 condos, according to a staff report.

During a study session on Monday, city council members will preliminary assess the developer’s request to rezone the area, replace a day spa, learning center and youth club in order to build the 75 units at market price and an underground car park with 141 spaces. . Residential amenities will include a coworking space, parking for 83 bicycles, a gym and an outdoor courtyard. The 75 units will even be divided into one bedroom, 53 two bedrooms and 15 three bedrooms.

A staff report ahead of Monday’s meeting says “this pre-screening request responds to City Council’s expressed interest in learning from homebuilders what it takes to create more housing opportunities in Palo Alto.” and is the latest example of the Planned Home Zone strategy that the board has approved since 2020.

Rendering of the proposed condominium complex at 800 San Antonio Road in Palo Alto. Courtesy of the City of Palo Alto

Planned Home Zoning is a tool the city council has relied on for years to fast-track housing projects, giving developers flexibility on development standards such as height, density and parking requirements in exchange for 20 % of affordable housing. The council also holds “screening” sessions to speed up the process, but the strategy has had mixed effects over the years with some projects on fragile land or withdrawn even after negotiations with the city over building standards.

For development to progress, council must first approve several aspects of construction that are currently not permitted by city code. For example, the project is located near the Greenhouse multi-family residential development, but is not adjacent to any existing apartment buildings.

Compared to the existing zoning, the applicant asks council to approve increases in floor area, density, land occupation and height. Specifically, the applicant is requesting to exceed the 50 foot height limit by 10 feet, an increased density of 75 units where 26 units would be permitted, 68% coverage of the lot where 50% is permitted, and two less parking spaces than necessary.

The staff report also notes that the developer does not expect to replace existing commercial and similar uses.

“Shortlisting is intended to solicit early feedback on proposed projects and, like all study sessions, cannot result in any formal action,” the staff report states. “Therefore, informal comments from council members would not give policy. That said, other homebuilders and landlords are interested in the council’s initial reaction to the application in question, which could influence the filing of future prequalification applications.

In addition, staff said council’s comments on Monday on key requests such as the height limit and floor space will inform city staff if there is interest in rezoning the area, which which could have “political implications”.