Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer put forth a proposal before the Palo Alto City Council on Oct. 1, to convert a funeral home in the city into a membership-based women’s center.
The mortuary, located at 980 Middlefield Road, is currently zoned for a funeral home with some flexibility, according to the City Council. Mayer’s proposal asks that it be rezoned as a “planned community” to accommodate the Corner House “CoHo” club, which would have membership prices of about $200 a month.
The funeral home has been vacant since 2013 and would be renovated to allow for lectures, speaker events, and co-working or office spaces. The proposal would cut down parking spaces to allow for more building usage.
According to the proposal, the building would be made available for non-profit and charity events at least 12 times a year, host free or cheap classes and have public events at least six times a year.
The proposal touts the club as a place where “a nursing mom can take a professional call from a safe place while nursing her infant,” and a family attends a fall workshop on pumpkin carving.
Though the proposal markets the project’s community benefits, city officials said in a report they were uncertain Mayer’s plan would qualify as
a community center, since it is only open to paying members. Whether it qualifies as a community center could affect the zoning required for the club.
The City Council suspended the creation of new “planned community” zones in 2014, according to a city report, but Mayer’s proposal reaches for the “planned community” distinction by claiming public benefit and incompatibility with other zoning designations.
According to city officials, residents who submitted public comments to the city during the planning process questioned whether the project would bring noise and traffic. The building is located in the quiet, historic “Professorville” neighborhood.
If the proposal passes through the City Council’s pre-screening process, the planning and transportation commission will review the proposal before it receives architectural and environmental reviews.
By Supriya Yelimeli