Making Moves

Group Walk update! The weather is getting clear enough that I think I can safely schedule a group walk. I’ll have more details next week, but here’s what I’m thinking: Saturday, May 7, starting at 10:00 a.m. Let’s meet at the corner of Veterans Boulevard and Maple Street, on the K-Mart corner. My plan is to lead the group up and over Maple, through Docktown, over the bridge to our new hotel, and then out to the Bair Island entrance by Pete’s Harbor. I need to measure the distance—I’ll do that and post the details next week—but I plan to walk round-trip. However, if you only want to go one way, there is a parking lot for the Bair Island Wildlife Refuge just across the street from the entrance, so you can have someone with a car meet you there. Dogs are OK with me, with the following caveats: they should be on a leash, and they need to be comfortable with strangers. Also, note that dogs are not allowed on Bair Island itself, so you’ll have to turn around at the gate.

Everyone is welcome! Bring friends if you like. I’ll provide some commentary along the way: we’ll see the new jail, the Inner Harbor area, Docktown, the new Courtyard by Mariott hotel, and the Blu Harbor development that is transforming the old Pete’s Harbor. Mark your calendars! Assuming that this walk goes well, I’ll likely do others in the upcoming months, so if you can’t make this one, rest assured that there will be other opportunities.

Near the end of last week’s post I talked about the office project that is due to rise at 601 Marshall, and how it seemed as if people were moving in, not out, of the small building that stands in the way of the project. But this week was the complete opposite: I paid them another visit and noticed that one of the tenants—Yummly—has already gone. I now suspect that Yummly had in fact been operating quietly out of 601 Marshall for some time, and only recently got around to putting their name on some of the small signs in the parking lot. In any case, Yummly has moved nearby to 610 Walnut Street (near Bradford), into a medium-sized building that was once part of Kaiser. Although they have not yet put up any signs on their new building, this one seems like a more permanent home for the online recipe aggregation company.

The law firm that has called 601 Marshall home for some time now still seems to be there, but they appear to be the last occupants of the four properties being stitched together for this building project. With everyone else gone, the law firm will likely be on the move soon, at which point we’ll see construction fences go up.

The likely onset of construction is confirmed by this article in The Registry SF, which discusses the $105-110 million in funding that the developer, Dostart Development Company, arranged in order to construct the 601 Marshall project. Incidentally, even if you don’t read the article, the short video at the top—which was likely created to justify the project to funders and to potential tenants—is worth watching. It does a really nice job of portraying downtown Redwood City as the place to be. I particularly like their mention of Redwood City’s downtown as having the “peninsula’s highest concentration of walk-to amenities.” Whether or not that is literally true, it certainly feels that way.

On to the next move. I’m delighted to say that Redwood Trading Post is finally settling in to their new home! You’ll find them now in their permanent quarters at 1455 Veterans Boulevard, very close to the intersection of Veterans and Chestnut (where the freight tracks cross Veterans). Their permanent signage isn’t up, and there is a prominent “Tom’s Outdoor Furniture” in front of the Redwood Trading Post store (rather than in front of the actual Tom’s Outdoor Furniture store, which is next door), but there are some temporary signs that will hopefully get your attention:

Be aware that the entrance to Redwood Trading Post is in the back. The driveway on the west side of the building (between Redwood Trading Post and Tom’s Outdoor Furniture) will lead you to the parking lot and entry doors.

For those of you who are reading this on Friday (or early on Saturday), Redwood Trading Post is having a grand opening party on Saturday, April 23. There will be free food, door prizes, and a raffle, so do drop on by! Their hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends, and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. By their grand opening I expect that they’ll be fully organized inside; I dropped by early this week and although there were a couple of areas that still needed to be sorted out, for the most part things looked great:

Redwood Trading Post announced their move quite some time ago, and ended up having to move into an interim space while this new one was being prepared. Thus, we’ve had time to get used to the idea of their moving, and have been able to follow their progress throughout. Not all businesses give us such warning, however. While walking around downtown I was startled to see that Young’s Auto Parts, who for the past 70 years has been located in a historic brick building on Main Street near Middlefield Road, has suddenly moved to San Carlos. Perhaps there was some warning and I just didn’t notice—I haven’t walked along that part of Main Street in a while—but I certainly had no inkling that they’d be moving. I must admit that I’ve never been a customer of theirs, but then again I don’t buy many automobile parts these days. I did always wonder about the huge slot car set that was in the window in the north half of the building; I suspect it didn’t make the move to their new location.

Curious about the history, I did some research and learned that the Main Street building was built in 1922 to be a “showplace” for the Sunshine Grocery Stores. It had a meat market, a delicatessen, dry goods, canned goods, a bakery, and a produce stand. Apparently it also had a ladies restroom, which was almost unheard of back in the early 1920’s. It later became a grocery store under another name, and then, in 1946, E.W. Young established his auto parts shop in the north half of the building (the south half was occupied by an automotive machine shop). Although today it is all one storefront again, you can still see how the building had been divided in two.

Young’s (now called “Young’s Auto Supply Center,” apparently) has relocated to 1669 Industrial Road in San Carlos. Their new location isn’t nearly as impressive but probably makes more sense for their business these days. I dropped by to check on their new location, and although they don’t have signs and don’t seem to be open quite yet, they were actively settling in to their new home, on Industrial just past the Domenico Winery. In the following photo, Young’s is the roll-up door on the left, plus the single door and window where the motor scooter is parked:

It’s too early to tell, but I do have to wonder who will take over their old location on Main Street. YuMe, a “multi-screen video advertising technology company” has an office right next door and seems a logical choice, but the City Council has made it clear that they really want restaurants and retail on Main Street rather than more offices, so perhaps not. As always, I’ll be keeping an eye on it…

If you like historic buildings, I have an even better one for you. It seems that the Diller-Chamberlain Store is vacant. You may not know it by name, but most Redwood City residents know it by sight:

Like the former home of Young’s Auto Parts, this building is also listed in the Redwood City Historic Resources Inventory. Too, it is located on Main Street (but this one is near Broadway). Built in 1859, the Diller-Chamberlain Store building is the oldest brick commercial building in Redwood City. It was built on Redwood Creek—the creek ran behind the store—making it easy to keep the general store supplied from the ships that plied our local waterways.

Over the years the Diller-Chamberlain Store building has housed many other businesses. Most recently it appears to have been the home of Personal Capital, a money-management firm. Although the “Available” sign on the building says “Do Not Disturb Tenant” there is little chance of that: I peered inside and it seems clear that everyone has moved out. Personal Capital also has offices in San Francisco and Denver, so I expect that they’ve either downsized or simply moved everyone up to San Francisco.

Interested? The 2,940-square-foot building was last renovated in 1997, and, unlike the classic exterior, you’ll find that the inside of the building is actually quite up-to-date:

Finally, I want to leave you with an update on the project at 2075 Broadway, which, in keeping with the theme of this blog post, involves at least one Redwood City business on the move. You may not know the building by its address alone, but it is located at the corner of Broadway and Jefferson, and is best known as the current location of Powerhouse Gym.

I last wrote about this building in October (The Only Constant) before the project had been approved. The four-story office/retail project subsequently received the necessary approvals in February of this year from the city’s Zoning Administrator, but due to an appeal from a Redwood City resident the project was brought before the Planning Commission for their review. Their meeting on the project happened last Tuesday, and I was there to observe the proceedings.

I thought that there might be fireworks, but to my relief things were quite civil. With the exception of the appellant himself, it appeared as if everyone in the audience—there were about twenty of us—was in favor of the project (and to be fair, the appeal was largely about the approval process, rather than the building itself). Sixteen people got up to speak during the public comment period, and every one expressed support for the project. Of course, one speaker was one of the property’s owners, and a couple represented organizations that will receive financial benefits from Lane Partners (the developer). However, others who spoke in favor of the project were residents and nearby business owners. For instance, Howie from Howie’s Artisan Pizza—who is right next door to the project site—seemed particularly pleased about the project. As was the owner of Powerhouse Gym, who will have to relocate.

I was particularly pleased to hear that Powerhouse Gym will be moving—with some assistance from the 2075 Broadway project’s developer—and not closing. With some 4,000 members, this gym seems to be a popular place! I don’t yet know to where they will be moving, but the gym’s owner seems confident that the members will be pleased with the new location.

The new four-story building that is planned for 2075 Broadway will have two floors of underground parking, which, as is the norm lately, will be available to the public on nights, weekends, and holidays. It will also have almost 27,000 square feet of retail, which should keep that part of our downtown lively and interesting for both residents and out-of-town visitors.

Redwood City has been a hotbed of development activity for a number of years now, and it seems that that trend will continue, at least for a while. Some of that activity is forcing businesses to move, but fortunately many seem to be relocating within the city, and those that aren’t are largely moving to nearby communities. While it is somewhat inconvenient having to remember that a business such as Young’s or Redwood Trading Post has a new location, I’d much rather they move than close altogether. Plus, their moves free up their former locations to become something new, helping Redwood City to remain vibrant and interesting. And I’m all for that!

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