Here and There

My wife and I have been doing a lot of traveling lately, so I’ve had to make a more concerted effort to keep this blog up. Well, not the blog itself—I can do that from almost anywhere (and, in fact, I’m writing this from the deck of a resort in Arizona!)—but the actual walking I can only do when I’m home. Thus, when I found myself with three whole days at home between trips, I quickly assembled a list of places I wanted to check out and then scheduled some time to take a long walk. Some 8+ miles (and almost 1200 calories!) later, I had managed to check in on Crossing 900, 145 Monroe, “The Lane on the Boulevard” (the old Mel’s Bowl), and the former location of Chevy’s Fresh Mex, along with the two fire-damaged apartment buildings on Woodside Road.

As anyone who has been downtown in the last couple of weeks knows, the developer for the Crossing 900 project has wasted no time in getting started. Crossing 900 is the huge office complex going up on the site of the old Middlefield Road parking lot, just behind and across the tracks from Sequoia Station. Unfortunately for me I was out of town when the bulldozers took down both the old law office and the empty Los Potrillos restaurant building. My good friend Rick happened to catch the last of the action on the old law office, and shared his pictures and a video with me. Here is one of the pictures:

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Although I missed the destruction—the little kid in me sure enjoys watching a building come down—I’ll at least have 2+ years of digging and construction to savor. By the time I got there earlier this week, not only was there no trace of the two buildings that had formerly occupied part of the site, but the backhoes were furiously digging the rather large hole that will be needed both for the new building’s foundations and for the enormous underground parking structure. When I got there, I was pleased to discover that a large section of the construction fencing was open to enable trucks to come and go; I was able to get a clear shot of the activity. In the following picture you can see both the backhoes and the pile driving machinery (used to drive home the building footings, among other things).

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As I walked around the site, a sign on the location of the old photography studio next to Cafe La Tartine—where my kids had their high school graduation photos taken—caught my eye. This storefront has been empty for quite some time now, and I was wondering what would go in there. It seems that we have an answer, at least for the next couple of years:

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In case you can’t read it (click or tap the photo to enlarge it), the sign says “Crossing 900.” It seems that this particular storefront will be used as the project office and/or leasing office, at least for the duration of the construction.

Having circled the site and taken a number of photos, I then moved on to check the progress on the nearby residential project at 145 Monroe. I have mentioned this project before: it is on the west side of the tracks, just behind the Redwood City Main Library. When I last saw this project, all the activity was below ground level (like most of the projects going on in Redwood City, it will have some underground parking). This time, I was pleased to see that it was rising well into the air:

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(The building in the background on the right side is the library.) Referred to as “Elan Redwood City” by the developer (a Houston, Texas firm named Greystar), this will be a six-story complex containing 305 apartments. As yet the developer doesn’t list a completion date; I would guess that this building (it appears to all be one large building) won’t be ready for occupancy until 2015.

Having seen all I could on Monroe (construction fences make viewing this project a little tricky), I then headed out to El Camino and began walking in the direction of Atherton. In fairly short order I reached the former location of Mel’s Bowl, where “The Lane on the Boulevard” is now almost completely formed. While it still needs sheathing, windows, and interiors, the basic structure is in place, so just by driving by you can get an idea of how its going to look and how it impacts the area. This project is a little smaller than some, but is still fairly large: 141 apartments in a mix of three- and four-story buildings with an above-ground parking garage buried near the center of the project. For additional details and some renderings of the finished product, check out the project page on the SummerHill Apartment Communities website.

I did my best to check out “The Lane…”, walking all the surrounding streets in an attempt to get a good view. Unfortunately it is mostly surrounded by apartments and houses, so getting a clear view from any angle other than from El Camino is difficult. While I was wandering around, though, I realized that something was missing from the last time I had been there: the old Indian restaurant—Suraj Indian Cuisine—formerly located at 2550 El Camino is no longer there! The “Pronto Rotisserie & Pizzeria” that lies between “The Lane…” and the Indian restaurant is still present—as is the Budget Inn which stands just to the north—but where the ornately fronted Indian restaurant once stood there is now just a construction fence:

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I did a bit of digging on this one and found that someone has recently filed a permit for a single-story retail building on the site. I have yet to determine whether this will be a new restaurant building or whether it will be store of some sort. At least it isn’t more housing; when I was digging I found an older permit, since withdrawn, for a 35-unit residential complex.

My final goal for this trip was the old Chevy’s Fresh Mex restaurant location, at 2907 El Camino Real. Not because I was aware of any special activity going on down there (although remodeling of the building continues). No, it is because of a tip I received from my friend Rich (not to be confused with Rick, who provided me with photos of the Crossing 900 building demolition). It seems that Rich unraveled the mystery of this particular building. What is it becoming? Believe it or not, a Planned Parenthood clinic. A quick bit of online research turned up some year-old articles (like this one from the San Jose Mercury News) revealing that the project has been in the works for some time now. While I was there I was able to take a peek into some of the windows, and while there isn’t too much to see, the fixtures in the semi-finished rooms do indeed seem in character for such a facility. I have yet to find any permits or other such documentation for the project, but given that the site is in an unincorporated section of the city, I suspect that I’m simply not looking in the right places. I may have to check the county offices, instead of Redwood City’s planning office.

Having reached the farthest point in my walk, I returned via Woodside Road. The recent fire at the Terrace Apartments, coming so soon after the fire at the nearby Hallmark House Apartments, seems strangely coincidental and was thus worthy of a look. After walking by both apartment buildings in the space of a few short blocks, however, I have nothing to add to the published newspaper articles. I will note that the damage to both is clearly evident from Woodside Road, so if you are curious you might want to go by and have a look for yourself.

Before closing, I wanted to note that Redwood City is holding two “workshops” to show off the current plan for Pete’s Harbor and to gather feedback. There is one today (Saturday, 11/9) and one on Wednesday the 13th. Unfortunately, I cannot attend either, but if anyone is available and interested, see Redwood City’s web page on the project, here, for details. This new plan has yet to be presented to the planning commission; this is just the beginning of the process.

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