Jul 29, 2014

Los Gatos to Remain Netflix's Home

By a 3-2 vote, Town Council approves project where company can expand operations.

Los Gatos to Remain Netflix's Home

By the skin of its teeth, will presumably have a new place to call home in town, in addition to its current one on Winchester Circle.

By 3-2 vote, developer John R. Shenk and  Netflix CFO David Wells can now complete a deal with Mike White, the owner of about 21 acres located at 90-160 Albright Way and 14600 Los Gatos Blvd., to build the Internet movie and TV show subscription giant additional office space.

Council members  Barbara Spector and Steve Leonardis voted against the plan while Diane McNutt, Steve Rice, and Los Gatos Mayor Joe Pirzynski gave the go-ahead.

“Albright Way is the only site in Los Gatos that would enable us to stay here and to be contiguous with our existing campus,” Wells said Monday evening before the Los Gatos Town Council.

The plan includes two buildings, at four and five stories, respectively; a three-story parking garage, and 168 units of senior housing. The four-story building is located on the southern portion of the site and stands at 75 feet tall.

Linked next to it, via suspended glass walkway, is a five-story high building that stands at 84 feet tall and is parallel to Winchester Boulevard.

Alongside Highway 85 will be the three-story parking garage at 35 feet tall. All three will be mostly hidden from Winchester Boulevard thanks to what is called a “tree screen,” providing the illusion that the buildings are not as tall as they really are. This, Shenk said, will help keep the aesthetic feel to the town.

The developer will have 10 years to build the structures in compliance with the agreement, said Los Gatos Community Development Director Wendie Rooney, with a possible 10-year extension available through the Council.

The three buildings are part of the project's first phase. The senior housing units, for residents older than 55 years of age, would be built in approximately five years or 60 months. The height of this part of the project has been lowered from 70 feet to 50 feet and has been limited to seven acres.

All things considered, the Council said it believed keeping Netflix's tax dollars and business was crucial, despite the negatives provided to the council by the public who attended the meeting at Town.

“We cannot let these guys build a structure of this height in our town. It goes against everything we've had up to this point, it does not fit with the rest of the structures in town,” said resident Steve Johnson.

His complaint was one of many from town residents who packed Council Chambers to voice the same concerns. Other issues the public had with the project were with the lack of so-called story poles, or a wooden formation to show the public the height and shape of the buildings, traffic impacts and whether senior housing needs to be a part of the proposal in the first place.

“Senior housing is better than multi-family housing as far as traffic is concerned [and] as far as school impacts [are] concerned, but there is still a traffic impact. The traffic impact of this facility as currently proposed is enormous in an area that's already heavily impacted,” said Richard Allen, another concerned citizen.

The Los Gatos  Planning Commission will mull over various architectural designs related to the project at its Aug. 24 meeting. Then, the project goes before the Council again on Sept. 5.

Despite the controversial decision to ignore the town height policy of 55 feet for buildings, among other things, Los Gatos still needs Netflix and some and

Los Gatos Town Manager Greg Larson said: “The decision to remain the headquarters for Netflix was easy; the challenge was ensuring the quality architecture and open space that make Los Gatos special.  Tonight’s decision will help migrate the Town from declining DVD tax revenues to a more stable fiscal future for our entire community, including over $1 million a year for our schools.”

Correction: This story has been revised. An earlier version incorrectly attributed a quote to Andy Wu. The quote belonged to another speaker at the meeting. Everybody makes mistakes ... even us! If there's something in this article that you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, give Local Editor Sheila Sanchez a ring at 408-391-8725 or shoot her an e-mail at sheila.sanchez@patch.com.

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