Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
In a response to my most recent post, All Changes Great and Small, reader “Reality Check” noted that Main Street Coffee Roasting Company had closed but “may continue or reopen under new ownership.” I went by on Monday to see what’s what, and was surprised—and pleased—to see that they were open and apparently doing business as usual. Upon closer inspection, I saw the sign they have posted on their door (pardon the reflections):
[click to enlarge]
It seems that Main Street Coffee is now “Sodoi” (pronounced “so do i”) Coffee, and one of the Main Street co-owners, Bob, remains a partner in the new venture. From all appearances the new business is already up and running. Given that many of the staff have been retained, and that the signage has yet to be updated, Main Street Coffee patrons who weren’t paying too much attention will be forgiven for not noticing any real changes. I expect that there will be some, eventually: it seems that Sodoi may be more about selling coffee beans, if they are indeed associated with the Sodoi Coffee that was planned for Berkeley (see this “Nosh” article in the Berkeleyside news site for a bit of information on that location). But whatever it is called, the coffee shop at 150 Elm (very near Main Street) is very much open and doing business; if you have frequented Main Street Coffee Roasting Company in the past, I’m sure that they will very much welcome your future business.
Not Five, but Six
In Time for Some Commercials I provided some background on the five office projects proposed for Redwood City’s downtown. The developers of those five projects all have submitted paperwork to the Redwood City Planning Department outlining their proposals for the various sites as I described. In an attempt to better understand how the City Council hopes to deal with the fact that the five projects in total exceed the allowable square footage for new office space in the Precise Plan area, I watched last week’s City Council meeting (Redwood City posts video of its City Council meetings here). Watching that meeting did indeed give me some idea of the City Council’s thinking. The Precise Plan specifies “Maximum Allowable Development” limits for three categories: office, retail, and residential within the downtown area. Because the requests exceed the specified limit for office space, while the retail and residential limits are yet unmet, the City Council is considering allowing reallocation between the three categories so that they can assess market needs and (in this case, for instance) shift some of the unrequested retail and residential space over to office space. (Note that they are still considering this, however; they have not decided anything as yet.)
While watching the discussion, I was extremely interested to learn that there is yet another office project being proposed. I hadn’t heard about it because the developer has yet to submit any paperwork, although he has discussed the project with the Planning Department. He should be submitting a formal application by the end of October or November, at which point we’ll know more (and I’ll report on it when that happens). I did learn the key facts, however: the location, and the size. And what I learned surprised me.
The size? 90,000 square feet. For reference, the shorter of the two Crossing/900 buildings is about 113,000 square feet, so this would be about 20% smaller than that. The location? 850 Main Street. That address probably doesn’t ring any bells: it isn’t somewhere that most Redwood City residents pay much attention to. But I suspect that a picture or two will help:
Here is a view of the back of the building:
If you know Main Street, this is directly across from Martin’s West, and adjacent to the Sequoia Hotel building. Strictly speaking, 850 Main Street is the address of St. Regal Jewelers, who are located on the first floor at the left half of the first picture, above. But they are just one tenant in a large 30-year-old building that includes a couple of small retailers on the ground floor and the Redwood Plaza Village Apartments on the upper three floors. Redwood Plaza Village is an 87-unit senior community, open to people aged 55 and older. Rents seem to be somewhere between $995-$1400 or so for a one bedroom: an amount that is significantly below what is being charged for the new apartments being built in the area (in 2012, at least, this building was listed as having 13 affordable housing units). Thus, the loss of this building will not only mean that numerous elderly households will have to relocate, but that many of them will have a difficult time finding anything in the area for a comparable price. The plus side? Well, the new building will likely look nicer and fit in better with the surrounding area…
The Great Escape
Watching the City Council meeting also revealed another nugget or two of valuable information. Eric Lochtefeld, one of the owners of the Fox Theatre, addressed the council on the subject of 815 Hamilton, the project that I mentioned as being behind the Fox. The first interesting tidbit: he and his partners are in negotiations to acquire the building that formerly housed Prestige Portraits (and currently serves as the management office for the Crossing/900 project). Once they have acquired that building, they will own the entire frontage across the street from Crossing/900 between Middlefield and Hamilton. This explains how they intend to fit their building on the site: not only will it occupy the two small parking lots behind the Fox, but it presumably will occupy the Prestige Portraits site as well. I had reported it as being a 35,000 square foot building, but he stated that it would be 69,000 square feet; the extra land provided by the Prestige Portraits building has apparently allowed them to expand their project.
The second nugget, clearly thrown out as an enticement to the City Council to approve the project, was the fact that the building will have underground parking. That in itself is not all that interesting. What really piqued my interest was his statement that they intend to connect their underground parking garage to the one underneath the Century theaters, giving moviegoers a second exit from the Jefferson parking garage. Currently there is only a single exit (and entrance), on Jefferson: with this new project we would have a second way to exit the garage, either to Middlefield or to Hamilton (the precise design, and thus the actual location of this second exit, has yet to be determined). This would indeed be a beneficial aspect of the development; that garage’s single exit is a real bottleneck at times.
Whenever I start to wonder what I could possibly write about next, things like the above three pop up. It appears that for the next couple of years, at any rate, I’ll have no shortage of material from which to draw!