On Notice

Seemingly coincident with my starting this blog, Redwood City began to ramp up their communications with the public. When I first started looking into what information the city made publicly available, I found some resources on the website and some email lists. But soon thereafter they hired some communications folks, causing a real uptick in the amount of information that was being disseminated. Then, they started expanding to other web technologies, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and even RSS (a long-lived technology that, if enabled for a website, allows an app called an RSS feed reader to tell you about additions to that site). Because I need to keep up on the latest goings-on around Redwood City, I of course subscribe to nearly everything the city puts out—except for Facebook. I just don’t do Facebook. But I get the city’s tweets, email messages, and even postings through my RSS reader. All in all the city puts out a great deal of information that serves to keep me pretty well-informed. That information, coupled with my personal observations based on my regular walks throughout all parts of our city, forms the basis for these weekly blog posts.

Redwood City has a couple of web pages with associated RSS feeds, allowing me to keep up on additions to those pages without my having to check them on a regular basis. One that I find particularly useful is the feed for the city’s Public Notices page. That page is where you’ll find notices for Planning Commission, Zoning Administrator and HRAC (Historic Resources Advisory Committee) hearings for projects both large and small. These notices are the same ones that are printed and physically posted at the site of the affected project; you’ve likely seen one or two if you’ve spent a significant amount of time downtown. Any time one of these is posted to the city’s website, my RSS feed reader brings it to my attention, and I add the subject property to my list of places to be explored.

One recent Public Notice that was brought to my attention through the mechanism of RSS is for additional signage for our new downtown Starbucks. Contractors have been working on the storefront at the corner of Broadway and Hamilton for some time now, but most of the work has been taking place inside, behind mostly closed doors. This week, however, the exterior signs started to go up:

The letters will appear on both the Broadway and Hamilton sides of the building. Each letter will be outlined in metal, with a set of incandescent bulbs within the metal frame. In the above picture the letters themselves are on the ground just to the right of the ladder; here’s a better look at them (they’re face down, but you get the idea):

For this particular location, though, the word “Starbucks” isn’t really enough: this is no ordinary Starbucks. In the past I’ve written about how this location is going to serve the Starbucks Evenings menu of wine, beer and small plates in the, er, evenings. But it wasn’t until I walked by and saw the window posting that I learned that this Starbucks will also be a Starbucks Reserve location. They will apparently be serving their “rarest coffees, small-batch roasted in Seattle.” So additional signage is needed, and thus, I presume the request for an additional sign: a “vertical marquee sign comprising incandescent bulbs set in an open channel, metal frame […] on the Broadway facade near the corner entry.” On October 13 the Historical Resources Advisory Committee will meet to consider the design of this new sign, and decide whether it is in keeping with the historic character of the building.

For a public notice to be truly public it can’t simply be delivered electronically. These notices are also printed and physically posted at the affected site. I first discovered one such notice in the window of the storefront on Broadway that formerly held the Techworld Trading, Inc. cell phone/tablet repair place. This storefront, which is located between El Camino Real and the Caltrain tracks, between the now-empty Goetz Bros. Sporting Goods store and Erawan Thai Restaurant, has sat empty for some months now. The space was recently painted and a For Lease sign is in the window, but that had been the sum total of activity there until I saw the Public Notice affixed to it.

The notice on the storefront says this:

New facade update to the building storefront. Increase roof height above existing mezzanine from 20’7” to 34’ in height. The project would allow a rooftop terrace. No additional floor area or increase in building footprint is proposed.

Interestingly, if you look at the permit application online the text says this:

Raised roof would be setback from front building facade. Roof would be raised from 20′-7″ to 25′

Whichever is correct, it sounds as if an enclosed stairway to the roof is being added, perhaps for a rooftop deck. I haven’t had time to dig into this further, but it sounds as if whatever is being built probably won’t be visible from Broadway, and that except for a possible re-do of the storefront facade, the building will otherwise appear much as it does today (I expect that the interior will be remodeled, but that is to be expected, depending upon who will be occupying the space). A rooftop terrace makes me wonder if they are thinking about leasing the space to a restaurant, who could then seat patrons up there. We have plenty of sidewalk seating in Redwood City these days, but I can’t think of any places where the public can dine up on the roof…

Jumping back to the vicinity of our downtown Starbucks for a moment, just around the corner on Hamilton is the old Amie Wine Bar site. There are signs in the window indicating that 823 Hamilton will be the future home of a Go Fish Poke Bar. Go Fish already exists in San Jose. They must be doing well, since they are currently in the process of expanding to two new locations: the above-mentioned site in Redwood City as well as to somewhere within the Stanford Shopping Center. Fans of Poke Bowls, sushi, and the like will want to keep an eye on this location and give them a visit when they open.

Given that Go Fish Poke Bar is going to be immediately adjacent to the 889 Winslow (aka 815 Hamilton) office project, while I was there I peeked over the construction fences to see how the underground parking garage is progressing. Things are looking good: the ramp that connects the two subterranean parking levels is clearly visible, as you can see:

I’m particularly interested in watching the connection that will be made between this underground garage and the adjacent Century Theatres garage; based on the plans at some point the wall between this garage and the theater garage will be pierced (on both levels) providing us with a second exit from the theater garage plus additional public parking on nights and weekends.

While on the subject of underground parking, I also took a peek into the garage being built for the future six-story office building at 550 Allerton. I’ve been watching this construction closely for some time, and what I’m seeing finally drove me to the plans to understand what is going on. Here is what you can see today:

This building will have two subterranean parking levels and some additional parking at ground level; the above picture shows the uppermost subterranean level. Although you can’t quite see the entire parking level in this picture—I didn’t have a wide-enough angle lens that would show every bit of it—I can assure you that the above picture isn’t missing much. Study that picture enough and you’ll notice something curious: there is no ramp connecting the parking levels. Indeed, it turns out that given the building’s footprint, and given how much parking the developer needs to put beneath this building, a ramp would consume too much space and leave too little for parked cars. So what is a developer to do? Why, he puts in elevators! Yes, this building is going to use a pair of “automobile elevators” to transport vehicles between floors. In the above picture, look towards the back right corner. See the rectangular hole in the floor, surrounded by temporary wooden safety railings? That is where the elevators will go.

550 Allerton will not only use elevators to leave more space for cars, they are also going to pack those cars in like sardines. Each of the lower two parking levels—one of which you see above—is intended to hold 65 cars. Here is the parking arrangement shown in the plans for the parking level in the above picture (for reference, I took the above picture standing just beyond where the words “Stair #1” appear in the following):

[click the above to enlarge it]

As you can probably guess, self-parking is just not possible here. Parking in this building’s garage will be by valet only.

At ground level 500 Allerton will have parking for twenty additional cars, making for a grand total of 150 parking spaces. Of those twenty ground-level spaces, three will have EV chargers, and seven will be handicapped-accessible (one of the seven will also have an EV charger). Even on this level the valet will be needed, since they plan to park six cars in the drive aisle and four more in the spaces next to and between the handicapped spaces, which are normally left clear for wheelchair access. From the look of things, those valets are going to have to be good puzzle solvers…

While my walks give me a pretty good handle on what is going on regarding development projects throughout Redwood City, more information—and early information—is always helpful, and I’m grateful for the public notices that Redwood City puts out. I’m also pleased that the city is employing so many different means to communicate with us. For many of you I hope that this blog gives you most, if not all, of the information you need about development and other goings-on around Redwood City. But if you want more, do avail yourself of the many ways that Redwood City is using to get the word out. Whichever forms of social media you prefer to frequent, Redwood City is most likely there, too.

While heading back to my car after a delightful lunch at Vesta today, I caught sight of this in a temporarily unoccupied restaurant window:

While I prefer to remain impartial and thus won’t join the march itself, I do hope to get down to City Hall on October 15 (at 11 a.m.) to observe and to take a picture or two. For those of you who feel strongly about development throughout Redwood City, this looks like one way to express your feelings.

A new fourteen-foot-tall steel sculpture called “The Heron” will be dedicated at the Port of Redwood City, at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 13. All who are interested in public art are welcome to attend the unveiling. If you can’t make it, though, do drop by the port sometime and take a look at our newest addition to Redwood City’s public art collection.

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