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After collapse, Silicon Valley Bank halts plan for branch on California Avenue

Gates block off public access to 414 California Ave. in Palo Alto, where Silicon Valley Bank has applied to open a new branch, on March 14, 2023. Photo by Jamey Padojino.

Silicon Valley Bank is halting its plan to open a branch on California Avenue in Palo Alto following its spectacular collapse late last week and its subsequent takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission.

A conceptual drawing submitted by Silicon Valley Bank shows the location of a proposed mural at 414 California Ave. in Palo Alto. Rendering courtesy city of Palo Alto.

The bank was preparing to take over a building at 414 California Ave. that had been vacant since the February 2022 departure of its prior occupant, Bank of the West. In June, Silicon Valley Bank applied to refurbish the site and add a mural to the prominent building in the city's second downtown.

The plans that were submitted last year by Studios Architecture, the project architect, called for removing the building-defining "breeze block" elements and replacing its stucco façade. It also included installing metal panels and a solar-sharing louver system.

The project had gone through the city's approval process and the city was about 99% of the way though resolving all the issues that the Architectural Review Board had flagged during its reviews, according to planning staff. Garrett Sauls, the project planner, said that the work, if approved, could still be carried out by the property owner, Arton Investments, or a future tenant should Silicon Valley Bank not move forward.

On Monday morning, however, Studios Architecture informed the city that Silicon Valley Bank wants to put the project on hold until they hear more from federal regulators, Sauls said in an email.

"We're still figuring out internally what steps we are going to take for the project," Sauls said in an email.


About the Author: Gennady Sheyner

Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before that he covered news and politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut.
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