Out with the dead, in with the women and kids.
Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer plans to turn Palo Alto’s oldest mortuary into a private club for working women and their families.
Mayer five years ago bought the former Roller & Hapgood & Tinney funeral home, and is now seeking a zoning change to transform it into “The Corner House,” a club offering workspaces, play areas, classes, a cafeteria, gym and other amenities, city documents show.
Mayer’s proposal to the city described the planned center as “a vibrant, welcoming space for traditional and non-traditional professionals to collaborate, work, learn, find support, build community, and spend time with their families, friends, and neighbors,” according to city records.The Corner House would not exclude any groups or individuals but “the majority of programming will be of interest to mothers, children and families,” the proposal said.
Neighbors are reportedly not amused, particularly because the facility at 980 Middlefield Road would hold hundreds of events per year, including outdoor gatherings with amplified sound.
“This would be incredibly disruptive to the neighborhood, as well as unsafe with all the extra traffic and people coming to the neighborhood,” local resident Lucinda Abbott told CBS News.
People in the area said Mayer has held a number of events at the building before, and neighbor Donald Guinn described Mayer as “a good neighbor,” though he’s undecided on the merits of her current plan, according to CBS.
Another nearby resident, Sharon Parkingson, described Mayer as a “rich person who bought a house in the neighborhood and is now buying up other parts of the neighborhood,” CBS reported.
“And now thinks she’s in charge of the neighborhood.”
Mayer had asserted that traffic impacts would be less severe than when the building was a funeral home, according to Palo Alto Online.
But neighbors also worried about parking, with local resident Peter Steinhart saying the neighborhood was “already fighting for parking spaces.”
Getting the required approvals from Palo Alto’s city council may be challenging for the former Yahoo chief, who left the company last year with a $23 million golden parachute, after Verizon bought the firm.
“She has to convince the council to approve a ‘planned community’ zone, a designation that has become so toxic over the past decade that the council agreed in 2014 to place a moratorium on it,” Palo Alto Online reported Monday.
“In doing so, she has to make the case that the project’s ‘public benefits’ are significant enough to warrant a waiver from underlying zoning regulations.”
Mayer’s proposal cites several public benefits, including giving women and their families access to previously unavailable resources that are valuable to the whole community; providing free or low-cost spaces for non-profits and charity events at least a dozen times a year; hosting free or discounted classes, workshops and other events at least six times a year; and hosting for free at least 10 meetings or small gatherings per year for community outreach, volunteering or charity initiatives, or similar events.