Sergey Brin and Passerelle pull off major improvements to Los Altos

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Catarra Real Estate, Inc CA BRE #01191946

Linden Tree Books, Los Altos, CASergey Brin, co-founder of Google, and his real estate development company, Passerelle Investment Co., are doing for downtown Los Altos, CA what nobody has ever been able to achieve.  They're buying buildings, making improvements, and setting in motion plans to bring our sleepy little town into the 21st century.  And I'm sure it's being done with a few old-timers kicking and screaming along the way.

I grew up in Los Altos and lived a significant portion of my life there.  For decades, while nearby towns such as Los Gatos and Mountain View, become destinations with myriad dining and shopping options, Los Altos just plodded along.  The focus was always on retaining small businesses - at any cost - at the exclusion of national chains.  The problem has been that "small town America" became unviable decades ago as retail models evolved and consumer expectations changed.  During the last downturn, several downtown businesses failed.  That said, there is a place for some small businesses that offer distinctive products or services.

The town itself set up the chance for success - by changing zoning regulations downtown to allow taller buildings and mixed use (retail, office, and residential combined).  That has made buying and building downtown appealing and it can be seen in the myriad projects under development.  The new Packard building, new condos on First Street, the mixed-use building on 3rd Street, and other projects in process or nearly done show massive progress.  Passerelle has participated in some of this redevelopment.

Now comes Passerelle Investment Company with a bold agenda to buy buildings, rebuild or remodel as needed, and keeping rents lower for small businesses that should remain to give Los Altos its unique character.  One place I'm hoping they can help is knocking down some of the small 25-foot wide buildings on Main Street in favor of wider buildings that will appeal for national chains.  We have some chains on Main Street but we could use a few more.

The buildings are the corner of First and State streets have been redone with a contemporary look.  The building where the new Linden Tree Books is a modern style that replaced the dated eyesore that was there before.

There are other changes afoot and I'd like to say, THANK YOU, to Sergey and Passerelle for finally getting this town headed in the right direction.  I sincerely hope you have continued success in your acquisitions and developments that will benefit us all.

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Topic:
Real Estate General Information
Location:
California Santa Clara County Los Altos Downtown
Groups:
HyperLocal Neighborhood and Community Posts
Tags:
redevelopment
downtown los altos
sergey brin
passerell investment

Comments 14 New Comment

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Rainmaker
540,110
Eric Michael
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI

Hey Bryan, once your town of Los Altos gets brought back to where you want it, can you let Sergey know there's a little town out here that could use some help coming back? It's called Detroit.

September 03, 2012 04:22 PM
Rainmaker
647,735
Evelyn Kennedy
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA
Gallagher & Lindsey, Alameda, California

Bryan:

I admire for trying to keep small business in lower cost building.  But I don't thing that trying to bring big chains to the City would fly here.  We are definitely anti chain stores.  I am not sure if that is good or bad.  I do love the small town atmosphere of Alameda but I would love to have a Macys or Nordstorms here.

September 03, 2012 04:35 PM
Rainmaker
1,034,130
Joan Whitebook
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services
BHG The Masiello Group

I think that Eric makes a good point.  I hope that this type of thing will spread to those cities that could use a little help to get back on track.

September 03, 2012 04:39 PM
Rainmaker
1,508,969
John Novak
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace

Sounds similar to what Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is doing in downtown Las Vegas. It's encouraging to see such successful people investing in their communities.

September 03, 2012 04:45 PM
Ambassador
683,273
Charita Cadenhead
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)
Keller Williams Realty

Change is inevitable.  It doesn't come as swiftly for some, but it does come.  I hope Los Altos adjust and flourish. 

September 03, 2012 04:55 PM
Rainmaker
168,726
Phil Caulfield
Mortgage Lender - San Francisco Bay Area
Opes Advisors

Hi Bryan,

Here in Burlingame, a few minutes north of you, I have seen the chains and franchises move in on Burlingame Avenue, our main street.

If you measure success by foot traffic, this evolution has been successful because there are always many people shopping and dining.

On the other hand, I think we have lost a little bit of our character with the loss of mom and pop small businesses who can't afford the higher rent.

We still do have some mom and pop businesses on the Avenue. Hopefully our Planning Commission will do their best to keep this mix.

Good luck with this balance in Los Altos!

 

September 03, 2012 05:04 PM
Ambassador
541,463
Larry Story
Total Care Realty, LLC, Greensboro, NC Real Estate
Total Care Realty

Bryan,

I understand your plight since I have seen many a small town go down the tubes because of their refusal to change.  However I have a personal preference for the older smaller buildings since that is what my new offices are in.

September 03, 2012 07:12 PM
Rainmaker
693,766
Lanre Folayan
Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell your DC Home Now
Keller Williams Capital Properties-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC

Bryan I didn't know Sergey Brin had a Real Estate Development Company. Talking about adding to your already $20 Billion wealth.

September 03, 2012 08:52 PM
Rainmaker
233,579
David Grbich
Orange County Real Estate - 949-500-0484
Ventana Coastal Properties - www.FindCARealEstate.com

Bryan - good to see tech money being put back into local communities - great town and love the area. Regards Dave

September 03, 2012 09:25 PM
Rainmaker
891,596
Michael Setunsky
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA
Michael's Commercial LLC

Bryan, that is a good thing the Passerelle Investment Company is doing to Los Altos. This should help the small businesses in the long run.

September 04, 2012 05:46 AM
Rainmaker
98,238
Reuben Fine
Fill-In-The-Blanks PDF Flyer Templates www.TurnKeyFlyers.com

"Do no evil" isn't that the google mantra? So great to hear someone with Brin's wealth is doing something economically good to small town neighborhoods! Makes me appreciate google a bit more.

 

September 04, 2012 07:09 AM
Rainmaker
1,203,318
Richie Alan Naggar Author PEARLS SERIES of books
on LIFE and LOVE plus Real Estate too!
People first then business! Ran Right Realty Riverside, Ca

It made me think of all the money billionaires have taken out of the system and how putting it back is beneficial and expected. Even Farmers know that fields that produce need special attention and services if they are to keep on producing. Money is to be spent not hoarded...

September 04, 2012 07:10 AM
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Michelle Carr-Crowe Just Call 408-252-8900 Luxury Homes in Top Silicon Valley Schools-San Jose, Cupertino, Saratoga & Palo Alto
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years
Just Call 408-252-8900 Lynbrook Homes Cupertino KW

I'm glad to hear the development is actually succeeding in Los Altos.

September 04, 2012 01:51 PM
Rainmaker
237,508
Marge Draper
REALTOR, Keller Williams Realty, Menlo Park CA
Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto

Bryan,  I wondered who took the Linden Tree Book Store out of the box!!!!  Brin should come over to Menlo Park next.  I thought it was bad here when the only childrens' shoe store closed at 5 PM.  This was in the mid-80's and I had just pick our son up from daycare and thought that would be a good time to shop for some shoes for him.  To my great surprise, it still closes at about that time.

My husband and I had dinner at a restaurant in Mountain View about a month ago.  We couldn't believe how vibrant and alive the whole Castro St. scene was.  Shortly after that I took Santa Cruz Ave. (Menlo Park's main st.) home from the office at about the same time of evening, and I could have driven up on to the sidewalks without hitting anyone.  

Facebook effect, anyone?

September 04, 2012 05:43 PM
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Bryan Robertson

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