Silicon Valley’s Tallest Building Proposed in Menlo Park

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A major housing, commercial and office complex proposed in Menlo Park, called Willow Park, would bring the city’s tallest building yet if the plans are approved. The four-building project that rises to 431 feet could replace the former Menlo Park headquarters of Sunset Magazine, potentially becoming Silicon Valley’s tallest building.

In late May, Bay Area-based real estate development firm, Development N17, submitted an application to the City of Menlo Park, proposing the construction of the mixed-use complex, called Willow Park.

The project contains 665 homes, including 133 that will be affordable for people making less than 80% of the area median income. That will enable N17 to seek the so-called “builder’s remedy” that allows it to streamline the approvals process by including 20% affordable housing on site. If built, the project will increase Menlo Park’s number of affordable homes by 24%. According to the U.S. Census, Menlo Park’s individual median income as of 2022 was around $80,000.

The plans include a 130-room hotel and a 324,000 square feet of office space, at a time when many local tech companies are shrinking their real estate due to remote work. High construction costs, higher interest rates that have made obtaining financing more challenging, and weaker demand for housing are other challenges facing all major Bay Area projects.

N17 also plans a 4.9 acres of open space and parks, a Montessori school and amenities, that according to the application submitted to the City of Menlo Park in late May

“As a local resident, I have a vested interest in helping the community grow in a way that matches the needs of today’s Californians. While the magazine offices were an appropriate land use when it was constructed in 1951 and the population of California was one-fifth of what it is now, today people need and deserve housing in prime locations, not vacant office buildings or long commutes. California’s housing crisis requires all of us to embrace change,” N17 founder Oisín Heneghan said in a statement.

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Who is designing Silicon Valley’s Tallest Building in Menlo Park

N17 has teamed up with architectural firm SCB to design Willow Park. The developer is yet to share the cost of the project.

A company controlled by Vitaly Yusufov, son of former Russian energy minister Igor Yusufov, owns the site. The younger Yusufov bought it in 2018 from Deutsche Bank and Embarcadero Partners, which raised concerns at the bank at the time when its ties to Russia were under scrutiny.

The site located at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park’s Lindenwood neighborhood previously served as the headquarters for Sunset Magazine until the company moved to Oakland in 2015. A single-story office building constructed in 1951 sits on the property, and Willow Project LLC currently owns it according to the real estate database PropertyShark.

If the project gains approval, N17 will aim to start building as soon as possible and estimates the construction will take about three years.”

N17 chose the location for its size and walkability along with its access to major highway routes and downtown Palo Alto. San Francisquito Creek also runs along the proposed development site. N17 shared that the City of Menlo Park is reviewing the project application under SB 330 criteria for completeness.

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