El Camino Real’s two-story, 36-room Hotel Parmani is getting an upgrade. Palo Alto City Council unanimously approved a plan for the current building to be demolished and replaced with a four-story, 99-room building intended to serve visitors of Stanford Research Park (SRP).
SRP houses more than 150 companies, including Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Tesla Motors, and previously housed other companies, including Facebook. Hotel Parmani has been operated by the Patel family for more than 30 years.
“Founders choose SRP for our prestigious Palo Alto address, access to Stanford University’s emerging research and brainpower, close proximity to venture capital firms and sustainable buildings in a stunning natural environment,” reads SRP’s website. “Our unique blend of nature and culture has made SRP the business park that others emulate.”
The reimagined Hotel Parmani — which is estimated by the Patel family to bring about $1 million in annual hotel-tax revenues to Palo Alto — will contain a corner plaza and coffee shop.
Yatin Patel, who submitted the project application, said his family believes “supplying high-quality rooms” in a high-demand area “is smart land use for a project in the Research Park.”
“We hope you agree the hotel creates a high-quality image of the city, of the high standards that are expected in the city,” he added.
Despite the Patel family’s intentions, it has been unable to pursue its four-story Hotel Parmani project until now because of a “special setback” rule affecting the hotel property since it was implemented by Palo Alto in 1959. The rule required a 50-foot setback along the perimeter of the 100-foot-long property. The current Hotel Parmani building, built in 1947, intrudes 25 feet into the setback.
The Patel family has operated Hotel Parmani for more than 30 years, and has been asking for a removal of the setback rule for over three years. The newly approved project was also considered at City Council hearings in April 2016 and May 2017. Though the Council indicated at those hearings that it was willing to change the rule, it did not vote to eliminate the setback rule until Monday night.
The Planning and Transportation Commission voted to eliminate the setback requirement at a Dec. 12, 2018 meeting, though the commission added a condition limiting the waiver to hotel and mixed-use projects only. Patel argued against this condition, noting that setback rules are often applied “uniformly within each zoning district regardless of use.” Though Patel asked that the planning commission’s added condition be rejected, the Council declined his request.
“Do we want City Council to constantly referee the applicability of the special setback restriction based on land use?” Patel wrote in a letter to the Council. “Removing the setback restriction permanently streamlines the process, removes any clouds of uncertainty for anyone in the future and spares staff from potentially revisiting the issue again decades from now.”
In his letter, Patel called the “special setback” rule an “anomalous condition” and potential “administrative error,” given his property is outside of SRP.
Contact Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.