LOS ALTOS--The town's worst-kept secret is out. Anne Wojcicki, a member of Silicon Valley's high-tech royalty, is behind a company that helped spruce up the downtown.

Wojcicki came out as a principal in the Passerelle Investment Company in an exclusive interview published Tuesday in the Los Altos Town Crier newspaper. She was unavailable Thursday for comment.

Wojcicki basically recounted in the Los Altos Town Crier how she and her husband, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, moved to town in 2005 and became "interested in supporting the local community and the downtown." Their company quietly bought at least a half-dozen retail spaces downtown and added a few boutique-style stores catering to families with children. The stores had names like Bumble and the Red Racer Hobby Shop. However, Brin and Wojcicki never spoke publicly about Passerelle or its goals. They are now estranged.

But when royalty of any kind does anything, even modestly and especially secretly, it's news.

To be sure, more than just Wojcicki and her husband were involved in downtown's renaissance. Bumble didn't even open until 2011. Walgren described Passerelle as a "partner" and "contributor" in the ongoing redevelopment. Downtown Los Altos today has about 305 businesses, Walgren said, mainly because City Hall has been determined for a decade or so to widen the sidewalks, relax zoning restrictions, cut red tape and lure new retailers, cafes and restaurants.

"I think they were a contributor to the downtown renaissance," assistant city manager James Walgren said. "Downtown has always been a wonderful, charming place to visit, but it tended to close down after lunch."

"It doesn't roll up and close after lunch anymore," he said. "Today, it's much more full and active."

Contact Joe Rodriguez at 408-920-5767. Follow him at Twitter.com/joerodmercury.