Pinewood Signs 40-Year Lease Renewal, Looks To Renovate UC

 Pinewood’s Upper Campus could see renovations in the future, thanks to a long-term lease extension administrators recently signed.

   In the 1950s, Pinewood’s Upper Campus was an elementary school for the Palo Alto Unified School District. When enrollment decreased in the 1970s, the property was re-classified as “surplus property,” making it available for lease.

   In 2002, Pinewood renewed the lease, expanding the administration’s powers to rent and make renovations to Pinewood. Last month, the lease was extended again, this time until 2063.Pinewood has historically only renewed leases in 10-20 year increments, making this 40-year extension unprecedented. Pinewood President Scott Riches and Palo Alto Unified School District Chief Business Officer Carolyn Chow worked on the renewal.

   Chow said that PAUSD wanted to help Pinewood pursue a larger and more developed campus because of admiration for Pinewood’s environment.

   “Pinewood School has been a valued tenant at the Fremont Hills site,” Chow said. “[Pinewood] is a respected part of the community and provid[es] a high-quality educational program.”

   With the extended lease agreement finalized, the administration is now ready to brainstorm possible renovations and are working with the architect that designed Pinewood’s Middle Campus.

   “The architect sent out a survey to the teachers to see their opinions,” Riches said. 

   Beyond general renovations, teachers also requested more modern and specialized classrooms, including updated science labs and a makerspace facility. 

   “From an administrative standpoint, some of the other key requests were improved parking and better traffic circulation.”

   Riches said that he would like to see a robust cafeteria as well as a new Performing Arts Center.

   Riches wants the Pinewood community to be involved in the conversation.

   “We want to get more community input before [making] any final decisions,” Riches said, adding that things will take time.  “It is not going to be a quick process, so just be patient as we develop the plans and we will update the community at the appropriate times on the next steps. We are super excited for this stage at Pinewood’s Upper Campus.”