Go Stanford!

As I promised last week, in this post I’ll share some recent pictures of the Stanford in Redwood City project. But first, a couple of interesting things have occurred that you may or may not have heard about, so I’ll quickly go over them.

First of all, on Tuesday night the Planning Commission approved the 801 Brewster project, a 250-unit apartment building proposed for the block bounded by Brewster Avenue, Arguello Street, Warren Street, and Fuller Street. I wrote about this project last June in my post New Kids on the Block; see that post for a summary of the project itself. As for the approval, though, going into the meeting I had thought that it might be rough going for the project, and when the Planning Commission meeting opened with three members absent (out of seven) I wondered if that would hurt the developer’s chances for approval. But even though the proposed building is one story taller than would normally be allowed in that part of town, and although one or two commissioners expressed some minor misgivings, the four commissioners overall seemed in favor of the project—and indeed all four voted for it. From watching the meeting I learned that state law allows developers to exceed height limits if that would be necessary to offset the cost of building affordable units, which is the case here: of the 250 apartments, fully 50 will be dedicated to very low-income tenants for a period of 55 years. (In this case “very low income” means that the tenant must earn 50% or less of the median income for San Mateo County—which for an individual was $43,050 in 2016.) [Note: the original version of this article stated that residents would need to be “low income,” earning 80% or less of the median income; that was incorrect.] These 50 units are clearly the standout feature of the project: rather than having the developer give a pile of money to the city for some unnamed low-income housing project elsewhere in the city, these affordable units are mixed in with the remaining 200 market-rate units. This gives the low-income tenant equal access to the building’s amenities and also allows them to live in this desirable “transit-friendly” part of our city.

The 801 Brewster project’s design is nice, too. It uses Craftsman design elements to make for an attractive look that will fit into the surrounding area better than the two-story office building that is currently on the property, and much better than the project’s next-door metal-and-glass neighbor:

I’ll write more about 801 Brewster as the project advances. For now, let me next turn your attention to a new project was just added to the city’s list: a proposed housing project for 601 El Camino Real. 601 El Camino is currently the location of Honda Redwood City, which, as regular readers of my blog are well aware, is moving later this year to a new location on Industrial Road in San Carlos. I’ve been concerned that when the dealership moves we’ll have a block-and-a-half-long section of El Camino that will be largely idle on the east side, with only the Burger King, which sits between what will be two empty auto dealerships, still open for business. But KB Homes is proposing a 33-unit condominium development for the Honda dealership property that would look something like this:

The development would consist of five separate buildings, and would contain a mix of two- and three-bedroom for-sale condos, each with a two-car garage.While almost all of the units’ front doors would be along the perimeter of the property, the garages would all face the interior. Cars accessing the complex would do so from the short section of Hopkins Avenue that currently separates the Honda dealership from the Burger King parking lot; there would be no driveway access from El Camino.

601 El Camino Real is just an initial proposal that has a long way to go before it is approved (if it is approved). But I’m glad to see that someone is paying attention to this part of town, and that perhaps our soon-to-be-former Honda dealership won’t be standing empty for long.

Finally, the city’s latest Economic Development Newsletter (sign up here if you are interested) brought to my attention the fact that we have a new urgent-care clinic downtown. The GoHealth Urgent Care Clinic sits on Jefferson between the Old Spaghetti Factory and the entrance to the theater parking garage, in the space formerly occupied by the San Mateo Credit Union. It operates in partnership with Dignity Health (who runs Sequoia Hospital) and can handle most non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries every day of the week (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday).

As you might expect from a clinic based in our area, their website (https://www.gohealthuc.com/bayarea/redwood-city/redwood-city) not only lists their rates and services but also allows you to schedule clinic appointments and check wait times.

The subject of medical clinics provides me with a nice segue into my main topic this week, the Stanford in Redwood City project. Recently I had a medical appointment in the Stanford clinic on Broadway, and was delighted to realize that the waiting area was on the top floor, facing Broadway, directly across from where the Stanford in Redwood City project was underway. Although I (naturally) took pictures, I only had my cell phone and the light wasn’t ideal. Here is the best of them:

Naturally I wanted to get better pictures, so last week I took a long walk that, among other things, encompassed this project. Beyond the left edge of the above picture is Andrew Spinas Park (it runs along Second Avenue from Bay Road most of the way towards Broadway), and while on my walk I had hoped that by standing on something in the park I might a good view over the construction fencing. But the play equipment wasn’t high enough (I tried!), so I circumnavigated the entire Stanford property looking for good views. Fortunately, it turns out that the construction fences aren’t too high. By holding my camera above my head I was able to get quite a few shots of the property, including this one:

I must say, I’m impressed both with the speed with which the contractors have demolished all of the site’s former buildings, and with the neatness of the entire operation. If you aren’t familiar with this property, it was once known as Mid-Point Technology Park and used to consist of a number of two-story buildings along with some large surface parking lots. For instance, here is a picture of the building that used to stand roughly on the spot shown in the above picture:

And here is a picture of an adjoining building that should give you some idea of how much of the property was being used just for parking:

The old buildings were largely made up of concrete and steel, which fortunately is highly recyclable (as is asphalt). After the buildings were torn down, giant claws separated the metal into separate piles (visible towards the right side of both construction photos). As I watched, a giant pair of shears picked up the larger metal beams and almost effortlessly snipped them in pieces, making them easier to transport. Those pieces will be sent off to a smelter, where they will be melted down and re-fashioned into other metal products.

Like the steel, so, too, can asphalt be melted down and recycled. Thus, all of the pavement visible in the above picture didn’t go to waste. It will be turned back into a form that can be re-applied as a road or parking lot, either here or elsewhere.

Finally, the concrete that made up the Technology Park’s buildings, curbs, sidewalks, and plazas was carefully separated from the other materials and ground into small bits right on site. There it remains, in huge piles:

There is no need for this concrete to ever leave the site. As long as it is free of contaminants, crushed recycled concrete can be used as the dry aggregate for brand new concrete. And small concrete pieces can be used as gravel for new construction projects such as this one. So the concrete will likely all be re-used right here, underneath or as part of the new buildings that Stanford plans to construct on this, their new “administrative campus.”

The Stanford in Redwood City project is a large one that will be under construction for quite some time. Thus, I’ll be writing more about it as it progresses. So far, though, given how thoroughly they seem to be recycling the old buildings, and given how neatly they are preparing the site for new construction, I’m pretty pleased with how things are going. If they continue to show this much care with other aspects of this project, I have high hopes for the future of this large development.

After checking out the Stanford project I headed towards home, which took me past the shopping center at the corner of Broadway and Woodside Road. For some time now I’ve been reporting on the proposed replacement for this center, and for nearly as long I’ve been trying to refute the rumors surrounding the site. However hard I try, they continue to pop up. No, Facebook has NOT bought this property, and they are NOT building a new Redwood City campus on this site. Instead, the property’s current owner—The Sobrato Organization—is putting together plans for a mix of housing and offices (and a bit of retail, which includes a stand-alone CVS drugstore) for the property. As you might expect given the size of the property, this would be a large development, with some 400 residences and over 400,000 square feet of office space. The project is still being worked on by Sobrato and by city staff; the design has not been finalized and thus neither the Planning Commission nor the City Council has considered it.

As you likely know most of the center’s existing tenants have already moved out; indeed, it became a virtual ghost town much quicker than I expected. There are a few tenants still in operation there, however: I wandered the center and saw that (only) the CVS drugstore, Sally Beauty, Millennium Dental, the Subway sandwich shop, and Mar y Tierra taqueria are still open for business. Big Lots, Office Max, Foods Co., and a handful of smaller tenants have all packed up and left, however. While I was there I observed two trucks taking away some of the interior fixtures from the Foods Co. grocery store. The rest of the vacant spaces had been completely cleaned out and their signs removed, so at least the place looks neat and tidy.

At least one former tenant didn’t leave Redwood City: Red Wing Shoes recently opened the doors to their new location at 820 Veterans Boulevard, between a Chinese food place (Chef Chen’s) and a Mexican restaurant (Frida Restaurant and Bar):

If you need work boots or shoes of the type made by Red Wing Shoes, their new location seems bright, clean, and attractive; do give them a visit.

The bulk of next Monday’s City Council meeting will be taken up with a review and discussion of the Downtown Precise Plan (DTPP), with a focus on the development that has taken place under the plan and where the city stands relative to the plan’s caps on new office space, residential units, retail space, and hotel rooms in the Downtown Precise Plan area. Those of you who are interested in this subject would do well to attend the meeting or at least watch it online (either live or on video after-the-fact). The meeting will take place in the City Hall Council Chambers at 1017 Middlefield Road (across from the main branch of the public library) on Monday February 13 beginning at 7:00 p.m. A link to the live video of the meeting (and to the recorded video, if you need to watch it later) along with links to the meeting agenda and supporting materials can be found at http://www.redwoodcity.org/city-hall/city-council/city-council-meetings-agendas-and-minutes. Especially for those of you who are concerned about or excited about the transformation of Redwood City’s downtown that has taken place over the last five years or so, this will likely be an interesting meeting to attend or watch. I encourage all of you to join me in making the time to do so.

7 thoughts on “Go Stanford!

  1. Pingback: Diamonds are not Forever | Walking Redwood City

  2. I find you reporting disgmtstung and one sided slanted to all the development is a good thing. Well it’s not a good thing. The two story building that Stanford demolished was a nice simple building that fit RWC!

    • GB sounds exactly like one of those cranky Make RWC Great Again turn the clock back to Deadwood City days regulars from the RWCRSW? FB group 🙂

  3. Greg, thanks for another excellent article. I wanted to make one correction and add another enticement to attend next Monday’s City Council meeting.

    The 801 Brewster housing project that the Planning Commission just approved is even better than you reported, because the 50 affordable units are at the “very low” income level of affordability, not the “low” level. This means that the tenant must earn 50% or less of the median income for San Mateo County—which for an individual was $43,050 in 2016.

    As for the February 13 City Council meeting, they will also discuss a resolution proclaiming Redwood City a Welcoming City and a member of the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative. Mayor Seybert has already stated that Redwood City supports the ideals of welcoming all members of our community, including immigrants. This should be a fascinating discussion.

    Finally, it’s interesting that you mentioned Andrew Spinas Park, because another item on the Feb. 13 agenda is to discuss a 2-hour parking time limit on Second Avenue next to the park. Evidently, so many workers park on that street that it’s hard for people to get to Spinas Park.

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