Home News New renderings show plans for ex-Sunset campus in Menlo Park

New renderings show plans for ex-Sunset campus in Menlo Park

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A developer has submitted an application to Menlo Park with new renderings for its project at the former Sunset Magazine campus, showing plans for four buildings that will include 665 new housing units, a 130-room hotel, 324,000 square feet of office space, a Montessori school and nearly 5 acres of park and green space.

The development, located at 80 Willow Road just north of downtown Palo Alto and bordered by San Franciscquito Creek, would become the tallest in San Mateo County if built.

A development company operating as N17 proposed the massive new development. The property’s owners are a group whose principal executives include Vitaly Yusufov, son of a former top Russian government official with close ties to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the New York Times reported in 2019.

To get approval for its project, N17 is invoking an obscure provision of state law called the builder’s remedy, which allows developers to propose projects that exceed local zoning in cities that lack a state-approved housing element, so long as 20% of the homes in the development are deemed affordable. Menlo Park did not have an approved housing element between January 2023 and March 2024, allowing N17 to propose its initial plan in July 2023.

To meet the requirements of the builder’s remedy, 133 homes in Willow Park will be offered to those making up to 80% of the area median income, “making much needed strides to help provide stable, affordable homes for low-income residents,” N17 noted in a press release.

Street-level commercial sites and open spaces, with adjacent towers visible, in the Willow Park mixed-use development on the former Sunset Magazine site at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park, concept. (Solomon Cordwell Buenz)
Street-level commercial sites and open spaces, with adjacent towers visible, in the Willow Park mixed-use development on the former Sunset Magazine site at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park, concept.(Solomon Cordwell Buenz) 

Those making 80% of the area median income in Menlo Park would hardly be considered “low-income” though. The median household income is $145,388 in San Mateo County, meaning that a household making an income of $116,304 could meet the threshold for one of the apartments.

“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,” said N17 Founder Oisín Heneghan in a release. “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.”

The development has changed shape several times since it was first announced in July 2023. At the time, the developer envisioned a 328-foot tower with over 20 stories. Then, in December, a new proposal showed three towers with 805 housing units grouped across three buildings. In

Willow Park mixed-use development on the former Sunset Magazine site at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park, showing terraces and open spaces, concept. (Solomon Cordwell Buenz)
Willow Park mixed-use development on the former Sunset Magazine site at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park, showing terraces and open spaces, concept.(Solomon Cordwell Buenz) 

The current property owners, operating as Willow Project LLC, bought the former Sunset Magazine site for $72 million in 2018, according to documents on file with the San Mateo County Recorder’s Office. The purchase was an all-cash transaction, the county files show.

Sunset Magazine left the Menlo Park site several years ago, saying in 2015 that it would relocate to Oakland’s Jack London Square.

Three towers and open areas in the Willow Park mixed-use development on the former Sunset Magazine site at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park, concept. (Solomon Cordwell Buenz)
Three towers and open areas in the Willow Park mixed-use development on the former Sunset Magazine site at 80 Willow Road in Menlo Park, concept.(Solomon Cordwell Buenz) 



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