I recently read an article in the San Jose Mercury News titled “Keep that downtown development going, five of six Redwood City candidates say” that should be mandatory reading for all Redwood City residents. (I presume that I don’t have to remind people that they really need to get out and vote in the upcoming election!) As is probably clear by now, I like the process of construction and I like seeing the resulting buildings, but that doesn’t necessarily make me pro-growth. I do believe that growth can be warranted, and I do think that in the case of Redwood City some growth is a good thing. But not unlimited growth (and not on the scale of the Saltworks project; I’m solidly against that one).
The Mercury News article clearly points out something I find very interesting: our City Council, in the Downtown Precise Plan (originally adopted in January 2011, last amended July 2013), set a “Maximum Allowable Development” limit of 2500 new dwelling units within the downtown area (roughly bounded by El Camino, Brewster, Veterans, and Maple). According to the article, 1240—or almost exactly half of the maximum—have already gotten the go-ahead (although I should note that the city’s planning office website lists two of those projects as being in the “proposed” stage). On the commercial side, the upper limit is 500,000 square feet of new offices; 300,000 square feet have been approved. Thus, less than three years into Redwood City’s “master plan” for the downtown area, projects are underway that consume roughly half the allowable limit for residential and office space. Clearly, the master plan will have to be rethought, and soon. Hopefully, though, the City Council will actually put some thought into it: the article refers to Jeff Gee, saying “…instead of automatically putting on the brakes he would consider the possibility of expanding the growth limits.” I certainly hope he doesn’t mean that he’d just raise the limits and allow construction beyond the plan’s maximum without giving real thought as to whether or not the plan needs reworking. Growth that isn’t informed by a rational plan and proper environmental impact studies is not good growth, in my book. If the streets can’t handle the additional traffic, or if we don’t have the necessary power, water, and sewage-handling capacity to support the new growth, I for one would strongly question whether such growth should be approved.
One project that has been in the works for some time—and is thus nearly finished—is the Township Luxury Apartment complex at 333 Main St. (behind the In-N-Out Burger on Veterans). Although this development is technically outside the boundaries of the Downtown Precise Plan area, it is representative of much of the residential development that is and will be going on within the area. Wondering how the project was getting on, I recently took a walk over there to check on its progress.
This project was originally going to be a 100-unit condominium complex. But after a change in developers we wound up with 132 luxury apartments of varying sizes spread across four floors, with below-ground parking. The apartment building is located on Redwood Creek directly across from Toys R’ Us; from the back of the store you can get a good view of the back side of the complex as well as peek into the common area that resides in the center of the C-shaped building:
On-site previews are currently scheduled for November. In the mean time, the project’s website has floor plans of the various one, two, and three bedroom configurations that will be available. Apartment sizes range from 630 square feet (the smallest one-bedroom) up to 1224 square feet for a three bedroom apartment. Two-bedroom units range from 1000-1100 square feet.
Being a luxury apartment complex, residents will have access to a fitness center; a studio for yoga, stretching, and Pilates; a whirlpool spa (but no pool); a business center; a “club room” with catering kitchen; and an outdoor kitchen/BBQ/dining area. Township is pet friendly and even includes a community dog wash station.
Township’s website doesn’t list prices, but I dug around a bit and found a couple of online brokerages that had listings. One listed starting prices for the one-bedroom apartments at $2152/month. According to that same site, the two-bedroom apartments are priced from $2421/month and up (one two-bedroom configuration, “Cambridge,” is listed for $3450, and “Durham” is listed for $3300); the three-bedroom units go for $3214. Of course, prices depend on several factors (including just where the unit is located within the complex, and what views it has). The other brokerage listed two bedroom apartments ranging from $3300 to $3625 per month, which is quite a difference in price. But even if the lower prices from the first brokerage prove to be accurate, it does seem that luxury doesn’t come cheap…
As you can see from the above photographs and from the renderings on Township’s website, the building is an attractive one. And the location is pretty good: not too far from freeway access, from downtown, or from mass transit. Given Redwood City’s mid-peninsula location—ideal for commuting either northbound towards San Francisco or southbound into Silicon Valley—I expect that even at these prices these apartments will be snapped up quickly.
The Township Luxury Apartment complex is the kind of growth I can get behind. Attractive, well-located, green (the building was designed to obtain a LEED Gold certification for green building standards), and reasonably compact, it also has plenty of parking to keep the surrounding neighborhood from being too adversely impacted. And lastly, of the 132 units in the complex 17 have been set aside as “below market rate” units, thus providing some much-needed low-income housing (although I’d be interested to know just how low these are going to be priced). I look forward to their opening in November, and hope to be able to tour the finished complex and see some of the unit interiors for myself.
As the first of a dozen or so housing projects either actively under construction (or at least approved for construction), the Township Luxury Apartments give us a peek of what’s in store for Redwood City’s housing future, and serves as a positive example of how growth can be managed well, to everyone’s benefit.
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