Coming Soon

It’s always exciting to see evidence of new businesses coming to Redwood City. Restaurants are the easiest to detect since, unless they won’t be serving alcohol, they have to publicly post a liquor license application fairly early in the process. The posted application has only basic information, but from that I can look up the new business on the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s website, from which I can glean a bit more information about the prospective business, such as the name of the principals involved.

That process is how I first learned about “The Bottle Shop,” a new wine bar that is coming to 2627 Broadway. 2627 Broadway is the storefront portion of the building that once housed Goetz Bros. Sporting Goods (the building has now been split into a retail space in front and an office in the rear). I wrote what I knew about the business at the time, but because it was not the main focus of that week’s article (The Sporting Life, published on July 6) I neglected to dig a bit further and connect the dots. The name of the proprietor—Zuhair Tarazi—should have rung bells in my head, since Zu Tarazi is married to Kristi Borrone, whom I see almost every Friday morning when my wife and I drop in to Kristi Marie’s for a quick breakfast. Although I don’t know Zu personally, I’ve seen him once or twice at Kristi’s restaurant. In any case, a quick Internet search would have revealed the connection between him and his wife. Further searching would have led me to one of my favorite sources for information about new and closing restaurants: Elena Kadvany, who writes the Peninsula Foodist column for Palo Alto Online. Because she is exclusively devoted to the restaurant scene (mostly in Palo Alto, but she covers surrounding communities as well), Elena is much better positioned to get the early scoop on new ventures such as The Bottle Shop. Thus, it came as no surprise to me to see that she wrote all about it well before the liquor license first appeared in the storefront window: her article is dated May 10 and indicates that The Bottle Shop will indeed be a wine bar, one that “will serve a California-focused wine list, heavy on champagne.” She also notes that they will serve “cheese and charcuterie plates, plus desserts from Kristi Marie’s.” If you want to know more, do read Elena’s article. Note that she ends by saying that “Tarazi hopes to be open by early July”—but based on my visit to the site this week, that isn’t going to happen. The space is clearly under active construction, but it still has a long way to go:

As someone who greatly enjoys having a glass of wine and a cheese plate at Cru, I’m looking forward to giving The Bottle Shop a try. Although they won’t be opening this month, they might make it by the end of this summer. I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on the place, and will let you know when they do indeed open for business.

When walking along this section of Broadway I always check in on the neighboring storefront at 2621 Broadway that is supposedly becoming an ice cream store of some sort. The buildout of that space has taken forever and appears to be largely done, but from what I can tell all work has stopped. This week I took a picture of the store’s interior, and by comparing it to one taken almost exactly one month ago, I can report that no visible work has been done over that month. The only real changes between the two pictures is in the positioning of a canvas director’s chair: it has moved from the right side of the image to the left. But otherwise, even the stuff piled on what appears to be an under-counter ice cream freezer (that has not yet been installed) seems pretty much untouched. For the record, here is what the space looks like today:

Whether or not it’ll ever actually open as an ice cream shop, well, your guess is as good as mine. Here’s hoping, though: it would be a nice addition to this part of Broadway.

I mentioned that one way I can learn about a new restaurant is through the posted liquor license application. That doesn’t work, however, if the restaurant won’t be serving liquor. Thus, I have to rely on other sources, or simply wait until the business puts up some sort of “Coming Soon” sign. Thanks to Elena Kadvany’s food blog, I’ve learned that at long last one of the two retail spaces in “The Marston by Windsor”—the large apartment building at the corner of Main and Marshall that was completed last year—is finally getting a tenant: a coffee bar.

Marston, with its 196 apartments, is largely viewed as a residential building. However it does have two decent-sized retail spaces on the ground floor: a 1,300-square-foot space at the corner of Main and Marshall, and a 1,650-square-foot space at the corner of Marshall and Bradford Street. According yet another Peninsula Foodist blog post, the more visible of the two retail spaces—the one at the corner of Main and Marshall—is to be the new home of Coupa Cafe, a small chain of coffee outlets that until now has been confined to Palo Alto and the Stanford campus. Coupa is expanding, adding a new store in Los Altos plus the one coming to Redwood City. We won’t see ours until close to the end of the year, apparently, but when we do, they’ll likely draw a lot of customers from not only within The Marston itself, but also from the many surrounding residences and businesses. While I don’t drink coffee and thus probably won’t be giving them a great deal of business myself, I’m very glad to see that this attractive storefront in what could be a challenging location (it is a bit far from the heart of downtown for some) will not remain empty.

On the subject of surrounding residences, I’m positively thrilled to report that the lawyer who filed a lawsuit against Habitat for Humanity and the City of Redwood City over the six-story, 20-unit affordable condominium project planned for the small lot at 612 Jefferson is settling with Habitat and the City. In return for assurances that Habitat will repair any damage arising from the Habitat project’s construction to the neighboring building at 605 Middlefield (which the lawyer who filed the suit owns), plus some other, lesser conditions, the lawyer is dropping his suit and allowing the Habitat for Humanity project to proceed. This project had been on hold until the legal issues could be resolved, and indeed as recently as Tuesday, when the Planning Commission met, it was reported that the project was stalled due to pending litigation. But assuming that the City Council approves the settlement agreement at their meeting next Monday, it should be full steam ahead.

I’ve reported before that another project, the 91-unit condo project planned for the corner of Jefferson and Bradford (the 603 Jefferson project) had also been scrapped, apparently the victim of another lawsuit. I’ve been watching the site for a while: the small one-story building that formerly housed the Women’s Health Club has been sitting empty since shortly after the project was proposed, but recently, now that the housing project is no longer in the works, it has been remodeled. That work seems to be largely complete.

From what I can tell, the building has been refitted as office space, perhaps either for a small tech company or for a legal or accounting firm. The lack of a “for lease” sign and the fact that the interior has been finished in a very specific way—for one thing, with a clearly labeled conference room in one corner—leads me to believe that it was outfitted for a specific tenant who I expect will be moving in shortly. Most of the space is one large open room, seemingly to follow the current trend for open offices:

You can bet I’ll be watching closely to see who actually does move in.

At the Planning Commission meeting there was some brief talk about the 103 Wilson apartment project. Stephen Turner, Planning Manager for the City of Redwood City, noted that the development appears to have experienced some sort of project management issues that caused it to be delayed. However, the project is back in full swing, and although Greystar (the developer) won’t make their original completion date—they had hoped to be leasing by the end of this summer—they are currently applying the exterior finishes, so perhaps they’ll make the date that is currently on their “Elan Redwood City” website: Winter 2018.

While Elan Redwood City was being delayed, its sister project, Huxley Apartments (at 1305 El Camino Real), continued apace. Although the Huxley building broke ground well after Elan Redwood City did, the exterior is pretty much done and Greystar appears to be on track to meet their deadline of opening the building for occupancy this September. After a long period of time under wraps, it is good to see what the seven-story apartment building constructed on the former Redwood Trading Post site actually looks like:

I for one am looking forward to the day when the construction fencing comes down and I can once again walk on the sidewalk that fronts this particular parcel.

Incidentally, I should note that there appears to be some stirrings of activity on the next-door parcel, where Greystar is planning to build an even larger apartment building. Mostly what I’m seeing are light-duty trucks (and one tractor) that have been parked on the site, indicating that demolition of the old La Mancha Plaza and Sequoia Veterinary Hospital buildings might soon commence. I have yet to see with my own eyes any actual activity, however, so take that with a grain of salt.

Finally, I want to make sure that everyone knows about the upcoming City Council meeting, which has a couple of very interesting items on the agenda. In addition to the aforementioned approval of the Habitat for Humanity project (which will go by in the blink of an eye; it isn’t worth attending the meeting just for that), the City Council will consider adding a measure to the November ballot for a half-cent sales tax on items purchased within the city (excluding food and medications). Redwood City is trying to get a handle on some upcoming budget issues, and a sales tax is one way to deal with the problem. However you feel about this issue, pro or con, you may want to attend and perhaps make your opinion known. Do note that the City Council, if they approve this, would only be adding a measure to the ballot: we residents would have the final say as to whether or not such a tax should be enacted when we vote in November.

The other agenda item that will be of interest to a sizable number of Redwood City residents is a study session on whether or not to make the Mt. Carmel neighborhood a historic district. Residents of that neighborhood (bounded by El Camino, Jefferson Avenue, Myrtle Street, and Whipple Avenue) should have already been notified of the upcoming meeting, and I expect that a great many of them will attend. There appear to be good reasons on both sides of the issue, and although I don’t live in the Mt. Carmel neighborhood and thus wouldn’t be directly affected, I’m very interested in the subject and thus plan to be there in person.

Both of these items will likely be contentious ones, ones that will elicit a lot of public comment. Thus, I do expect that this Monday’s City Council meeting will be a long one. Personally, I’m going to get there early to make sure I get a seat—the room likely will be packed. The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m., and will take place in the City Hall Council Chambers at 1017 Middlefield Road. Note that you can watch the meeting online, either live or after the fact: look for the video feed here. And of course I’m likely to report on either or both of these issues in an upcoming blog post—one that, like all of the businesses and projects mentioned above, will be “coming soon.”