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New homes and offices planned in downtown Palo Alto

Boutique mixed-use office and residential complex eyed for Palo Alto

PALO ALTO — Palo Alto is deemed to be one of the Bay Area’s worst laggards in providing enough homes for the jobs in that Silicon Valley tech hub. Now plans are moving ahead for a small development that will bring residences and offices to the city’s downtown area.

Boston-based Lighthouse Real Estate Investments — which has also proposed a big luxury residential development on what’s slated to become a top-cabin enclave on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay — has proposed the development of 19 homes and some offices in Palo Alto.

The real estate firm, in a sign of confidence that it can get the project rolling, has bought several parcels near the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Webster Street, just a block away from downtown Palo Alto’s bustling University Avenue, according to property documents filed with Santa Clara County on Nov. 6.

“An existing property on the project site will be renovated and developed into a mixed-use property for residential and office use,” Lighthouse states in a post on its website. Lighthouse didn’t immediately respond to a request for  comment.

The project requires the demolition of all the structures on the site, and the three parcels would be merged into one to accommodate the development, according to Palo Alto city documents.

Lighthouse Real Estate, acting through affiliate LH Hamilton Webster Owner, has bought three properties with addresses of 565 and 571 Hamilton Ave. and 542 Webster St., the county records show.

LH Hamilton Webster paid $20 million for the properties, as a group, the documents show. The company also obtained a $12 million loan from First Republic Bank in connection with the transaction.

The project also would include up to 7,500 square feet of office space, city records show.

Palo Alto’s imbalance between jobs and housing is far worse than the average for the entire Bay Area, according to city studies of data compiled in 2014.

In 2014, Palo Alto hosted 3.06 jobs for every employed resident within its city limits, compared with a jobs-employed resident ratio of 1.14 in Santa Clara County and 1.03 in the Bay Area overall, according to city documents. When Palo Alto’s overall sphere of influence is considered and adds the impact of Stanford University, that ratio modestly goes to roughly 2.8 jobs per employed resident.

The city’s comprehensive plan, adopted in 2017, determined that Palo Alto hosts more than 100,000 jobs and just 36,000 employed residents.

Lighthouse expressed great enthusiasm about the project’s prospects in Palo Alto.

“The Hamilton Webster project site is located in downtown Palo Alto, one of the most desirable places to live and work in California,” Lighthouse said on the website. “Palo Alto has a thriving downtown, featuring an abundance of retail and dining options.”

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