Arts and Innovation District


On June 3, 2013, the City Council received a staff presentation outlining options for moving forward with a community engagement and master planning process for the proposed Arts and Innovation District Area (27 University Avenue). Staff's recommendation proposed to begin a community input process that will allow the public to be involved in creating a realistic and implementable land use and site design concept for this area.

After receiving public comment and discussing alternative community engagement options, the City Council vote to direct Staff to initiate a community engagement process including the following actions:

    a. 6-8 well publicized outreach meeting pursuant to Staff's recommended "Focused Community input
    b. Staff to provide Council with a status update after three to six outreach meetings are held;
    c. A Joint study session with the Planning and Transportation Commission;
    d. Full Council discussion in the fall to discuss guiding principles developed by staff for 27 University 
        Avenue; and 
    e. Staff to return to Council with their interpretation of a stakeholder group for Council discussion.

Staff is proposing to return to Council in September/ October with a Request for Proposals to hire a consultant to complete the work and process outlined above.

Brief Background

The  master planning effort is being led by the City of Palo Alto. The planning was anticipated in the Stanford Hospital Projects approval, in which the City sought funding in the Development Agreement to plan for future uses and improve connections between Downtown, Stanford, and the Stanford Shopping Center and better utilization and integration of the Transit Center. In 2012, in conjunction with a concept proposed by developer and philanthropist John Arrillaga for use of Stanford lands, the City identified this as an opportunity to initiate planning for this area. The latest version of the master plan concept (as presented to the Council on December 3rd) included four office buildings, an improved transit center, a new performing arts theater for TheatreWorks, the relocation of the historic Julia Morgan Hostess House to be a part of El Camino Park and a number of other related improvements. 

The initial Arts and Innovation District Master Plan concept was presented to the City Council on September 24th.  Following the September Council meeting, staff engaged the Planning and Transportation Commission, Architectural Review Board and Parks and Recreation Commission in a series of public meetings.  Community feedback was received during all of these meetings and throughout October, November and December.  A number of substantial changes were then made to the Master Plan, including lowered building heights, improved open space and plaza areas, enhanced bicycle and pedestrian connections, and improved connectivity between Stanford, the Transit Center and Downtown. Design options for relocating the Julia Morgan building to El Camino Park were also drafted for Council consideration.  On December 3rd, the Council considered this revised Master Plan, and whether this Master Plan concept should be placed on the ballot as an advisory measure in June 2013.  The Council declined to move forward with a June ballot measure, and directed staff to develop at least two alterative land use concepts for the Arts and Innovation District Area.  Following the Council meeting, the Historic Resources Board reviewed the project on December 5th.  

Last Updated: Sep 14, 2017