Sorry for those of you who received notification about this post on Thursday, and then discovered that the link to the post was broken: I inadvertently hit the “Post” button when I was still working on a draft of the article. Below is the article that I intended to publish this week.
Redwood City may seem to be relatively quiet lately, but walk around the city as I do and you’ll see that there really is a lot going on. It probably seems quiet because things are largely being done behind the scenes, but very soon we will see the fruits of those labors.
For instance, I was walking down Broadway the other day, taking pictures, when I stopped to check on the progress of the (I believe) ice cream shop we’ll be getting at 2621 Broadway, and the new wine bar we’ll be getting at 2627 Broadway. The ice cream shop is progressing incredibly slowly; I have no idea when this place will ever open to the public. The wine bar, though, is another matter entirely. Although it has taken much longer than the owners had originally hoped — they had hoped to be serving the public last July — the Bottle Shop has been progressing steadily, albeit slowly. That progress is finally coming to an end, however: I had a brief chat with Zu Tarazi, one of the owners, and learned that we are about a week away from a soft opening. I’ll write more about the place after I’ve had a chance to try it for myself, but as for what to expect, Bottle Shop will be serving (and selling) wine, plus along with cheese and charcuterie plates and desserts. You’ll find Bottle Shop on Broadway in Redwood City, in the old Goetz Bros. Sporting Goods location (in the front portion of that space; the rest was remodeled and is being used as tech company offices). Oh, and here is what it looks like today:
One project that has recently opened is the newly named pub at 2650 Broadway, in the old Redwood City Underground Pub space. New owners have taken over the business and rechristened it “The Hub Redwood City.” I have yet to pay them a visit, but according to their website “there will be craft coffee and specialty tea, live music and events, sports, game tournaments, theme nights and special events to name just a few. Plus we will be adding a selection of food options.” For those who aren’t into the nightclub scene, their website also states that “the Hub will soon open early in the day as a coffee shop and shared workspace with fast Internet.”
Even though I don’t drink coffee, I’m particularly interested in the fate of CoffeeBar, the new coffee shop that is (or was) planning to take over the old Young’s Candy and Ice Cream storefront. CoffeeBar’s signs are still plastered in the windows, but I’ve seen no indication that anything is going on inside. It’s possible that I’m just not there at the right times — the signs completely cover the windows so I cannot see inside — but I’m starting to wonder if this one isn’t going to pan out. I spent a little time poking around on their website and there is no mention of a future Redwood City location (I think that it used to say something about Redwood City, but I could be misremembering that). If you are a CoffeeBar fan (they have a Menlo Park location) and are holding your breath for their grand opening in Redwood City, well, it may be a while, if ever. I should note that Greg Buccheister, CoffeeBar’s owner, was hoping to be open by December, so perhaps he actually is on track — or perhaps things are just taking longer than anticipated. Either way, I’ll continue watching that spot, at least until they or someone else opens there.
Ranzan, the Japanese restaurant that is currently operating at 921 Main Street, also seems to be taking things very slowly. Although they are open, according to a sign in their window they are still in “soft opening” mode — more than two months after they first opened their doors. From their Yelp page it appears that anyone can make a reservation, though, so perhaps “soft opening” here means something different than it usually does — or perhaps they just haven’t gotten around to removing the sign from their window. In any case, they’ve gotten fairly good reviews for their authentic Kaiseki dining experience. Note that at Ranzan you order a set menu, and that this is intended to be high-end dining, with high-end prices.
Not everything going on is about restaurants, though. Because I hadn’t been there for quite a while, I wandered down Winslow Street to check on the progress of the county’s new Regional Operations Center, which is being built where the motor pool was once kept on the County Center campus. When last I visited they were just wrapping up the steel framing; now, a lot of the walls are up and a lot of the windows are in. This project was slated to be finished by the end of the year, and they may make it — or they may just miss it, but likely not by too much. The Regional Operations Center — which includes, among other things, our county’s 911 dispatch center — is currently located in the basement of the Hall of Justice. I just bet the center employees cannot wait to get out of that basement and into their new, much larger, digs. And I, for one, will breathe a sigh of relief when they do: this new building is much more seismically secure than their current location. Keeping our 911 dispatch operations up and running during a major earthquake is something I am happy to see my tax dollars pay for.
While I was on the County Center campus, I took a peek into our Historic Lathrop House Museum. The building is slated to be relocated to the parking lot directly behind our historic courthouse; that relocation was supposed to begin in October. So far, all of the museum’s contents have been removed from the house and stored in a couple of shipping containers on the Lathrop House property. Before the house can be picked up and moved a lot of preparation needs to be done. For instance, a new foundation needs to be built on the Historic Courthouse property. So keep an eye on the parking lot behind the Historic Courthouse; when you see activity there, that’s what will be going on.
In case you were wondering, for some time now I’ve been watching the four adjacent empty buildings on El Camino Real across from Mancini’s Sleep World and our Ferrari/Maserati dealership. These buildings:
The three buildings on the left abut one another and are all being remodeled at the same time. I’ve been trying to decide whether the same crew is working on all three — I think they are — and whether they will ultimately be one combined space. If you’ve driven by in the last day or two you may have noticed that large “Coming Soon” banner above the blue building. That banner is advertising the Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital, which apparently will soon occupying at least one of these storefronts. The banner lists medicine, dentistry, surgery, and emergency & urgent care, so this would appear to be a full-service veterinary hospital. I’m glad to see the center storefront, at least, being put to such a good use. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this new animal hospital takes all three buildings. That just leaves the large building at the right edge of the above picture: that one, which I believe most recently was a produce market, is for lease. There’s no telling who might go into that building, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be the animal hospital.
This week I made it a point to walk through Red Morton Park. I’m eagerly anticipating the start of construction on the Magical Bridge Playground, which will be located at the Valota Road end of the park, just across the parking lot from the National Guard Armory building. This project, too, was slated to get underway in October, but that month has come and gone with nary a shovel in the ground. However, the Zoppè Italian Family Circus just ended its run on a section of the park adjacent to where the Magical Bridge Playground will go, so perhaps the city decided that playground construction should be delayed until the circus was completely gone. When I was there this week the circus was in the process of loading the last of their tents and equipment onto a large semi, so by the time you read this that section of the park should be back to normal. And any day now, perhaps, construction on our new “socially inclusive [playground] for children and adults of varying physical and cognitive abilities” will get underway.
Finally, I’m anticipating the start of construction on the 125-unit apartment building that is planned for 353 Main Street (on the Bay side of Veterans Boulevard, behind the Carl’s Jr. and the Sakura 2 restaurant). This project has been in the works for some time now, and normally I wouldn’t be all that excited about such a project. But just this week our City Council held a Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) hearing that will enable some $70 million worth of bonds to be sold in order to finance the construction of this apartment building. As to why such a project would need to be financed by bonds, that’s what has me — and the City Council — eagerly anticipating this project: all 125 apartments will be affordable! As originally approved, only nineteen of the building’s 125 apartments were to be made affordable. Now, though, 63 of the apartments will be affordable at the Very Low income level, and 62 will be affordable at the Low income level. This is a huge change that will make a real impact on our affordable housing situation. We still have a long way to go, of course, but this project should send a signal to other developers about what we want, and need, done in Redwood City. Huge kudos to ROEM Development, the folks behind this particular housing project.
Incidentally, on the affordable housing front, while researching the TEFRA process that 353 Main has had to undergo, I noticed that Hallmark House Apartments is also on track to obtain the $25 million in bonds that they need to get their stalled project moving once again. Hallmark House Apartments, in case you didn’t know, is the 72-unit affordable apartment complex on Woodside Road that burned back in July 2013. For a great deal of the time since then this three-story building has just been sitting, wrapped in green construction drapes. Behind the scenes a lot has been going on, but on site there has been no real activity for years. In any case, fingers crossed construction work on this building will resume next spring, and a year or so later these 72 affordable apartments (at the Very Low income level) should be back online.
All is not quiet in Redwood City: we have a lot going on behind the scenes on projects big and small. Soon we will see new businesses and new apartments opening their doors and becoming a valued part of our community. Changes like these are what keep me walking: I want to know where our beloved city is heading. And once our new City Council members take their seats (the vote counting is taking forever; don’t expect to hear who our new Council members are for at least another week) I’ll be watching them, too, eager to see what directions the new Council will be taking us. I see a lot to like about what’s going on right now, and it has me in anticipation of an even greater future for Redwood City.
Redwood City is conducting a “safety survey” for the bicycle and pedestrian aspects of the El Camino Real Corridor Plan. They want to get our feedback on what aspects of the plan we feel would be particularly effective in improving the safety of the corridor for cyclists and pedestrians. I’ve already given my input, and encourage all of you to spend some time doing the same. You make your comments on their “web map,” which you’ll find here. Be sure to read the short project description that initially appears over the map, and most importantly be sure to read the “How to Use This Webmap” below the description (scroll down to get to the instructions). Note that the corridor map itself is scrollable; you’ll likely need to scroll it left and right in order to see the entirety of the planned project area. Also note that they are only taking comments through this map until November 18, so especially if you want to make your voice heard on this project, don’t delay.