Palo Alto City Council will solidify a new lease agreement with Palo Alto Unified School District this week to ensure critical community services continue and to support student needs during this challenging public health emergency. The 54-month lease between the City of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Unified School District provides for the continued use of the Cubberley Community Center complex and includes the City use of sports fields, gyms, theater, pavilion and indoor spaces to enhance community services and support community non-profit partner services.
Palo Alto, which owns 8 acres of the site located at 4000 Middlefield Road, has been leasing the remaining 27 acres (for a total of 35-acres) of the site owned by the Palo Alto Unified School District for several years. This new lease reduces the City’s annual rental expenditures on the Cubberley lease from $5.4 million to $2.7 million including short-term leases for the preschool and Junior Museum and Zoo. This lease agreement is in response to the City’s current fiscal challenges due to the public health emergency and economic uncertainty.
“I want to thank the Palo Alto Unified School District for their continued leadership and partnership,” said Ed Shikada, Palo Alto city manager. “We are making the best of a challenging situation and this lease allows us continued use of Cubberley athletic fields and indoor spaces, enhancing our ability to offer community services and support community non-profit partners.”
The City plans to continue to rent playing fields, gyms, theater and about 1.5 acres of indoor space, including use of buildings that support several non-profit partners, including the Imagination School and the Palo Alto Human Society, Children’s Preschool, Friends of the PA Library, HeartFit for Life and Minority TV. The lease assists the Palo Alto Unified School District to increase space demands and support student needs in the coming year in response to social distancing requirements and other efforts due to the public health challenges facing our region, the nation and world.
“The lease continues our partnership with the City and our mutual goal to move forward with shared solutions and approaches to support our student community and the broader Palo Alto community,” said Don Austin, Palo Alto Unified School District superintendent. “Our planned uses at Cubberley allow us to support student needs as a result of the public health emergency and restrictions due to COVID-19 and we are quickly moving forward with facility improvements to meet the demand of students and staff in need of additional dedicated space. This may include special education staff, post-secondary Futures program, adult school, and distance-learning.”
Following Council action in October 2019, the City and Palo Alto School District were in negotiations to continue leasing Cubberley for an additional five years, including a term sheet with milestones for future development. With the current public health emergency and changing needs of both the City and the District, a new lease agreement was developed to address the City’s financial challenges and support the District’s needs for additional space.
As part of the agreement, the City will continue to maintain and make repairs to the entire property and pay for utilities. PAUSD reimburses a share of the maintenance.
The City’s acreage contains campus classroom space, art and dance studios, some parking, City administrative offices, a portable building used by Friends of the Palo Alto Library (FOPAL), and the tennis courts. The 27-acre area owned by PAUSD contains the playing fields, all-weather track, dance studio, weight room, gymnasiums and pavilion, multi-purpose auditorium and theater with music rooms, three wings of classrooms, a portable building used by FOPAL, and most of the parking areas.
Under this new agreement, the base rent for the new Cubberley lease will be reduced from $452,487 to $227,773 per month, or $2.7 million per year, including short term leases for the preschool and Junior Museum and Zoo from July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2024. The operating and maintenance costs are expected to continue at current levels noted above however, the City will now be reimbursed by PAUSD for a portion of their share.