A recent article in the Los Altos Town Crier talked about all the changes implemented or started in 2010 that will come to full fruition in 2011 and beyond. All the changes are designed to modernize the town and make it competitive to other nearby communities.
Los Altos has been a sleepy little town for a long time. Much to the chagrin of locals, the town has been kept in a state of "Mayberry Syndrome" for decades falling well behind the development of other local towns including Los Gatos, Mountain View, and Burlingame. The small shops typically close by 6PM, leaving the town nearly empty on most nights. There is no "critical mass" to the distribution of restaurants so the typical synergy you get with restaurants and shops isn't available. In 2010, all that small town feel was dismissed in a sweeping series of changes set to make Los Altos a true destination.
I had reported months ago that someone was buying large parts of downtown Los Altos. Many felt it was a prelude to a developer using the new multi-story zoning laws to rebuild large parts of the downtown to make it more like Santana Row, with residential or office space above retail. Knocking down several buildings, especially smaller ones, to make way for wider buildings would enable chains to enter the downtown. While old residents and power brokers have spent years stopping introduction of chains, small chain stores would bring new revenue and foot traffic to an otherwise quiet town.
We also need a little more style and that is coming with the new developments approved in 2010. Abigail Ahren's new luxury hotel at the corner of San Antonio and Main Streets will make that gateway entrance to Los Altos beautiful instead of just a dusty sandlot. Other projects include housing and offices along First Street that will transform that area as well.
The activity with new zoning, increased developer activity, and many projects going before the Planning Commission should result in a substantial number of improvements in Los Altos over the next year and into 2012. All these changes will have a lasting impact by making Los Altos a more desirable destination town.