Digging in Deep

It was such a relief to be able to get outside and see some sunshine after all our recent rainstorms. I know that we are in for more, but hopefully the worst of it is behind us. For those of you who are curious, my rain gauge shows us at 18.06” of rainfall since October 1 (meteorologists count rainfall from October 1 through September 30 of the following calendar year), which is very good. The National Weather Service’s readings, which are taken at the San Francisco Airport, have us at 15.46” of rainfall since October 1, which is a little bit ahead of normal and almost double what we received last year.

Numbers are interesting (at least to me) but what really counts is how we weathered the storms. Some of our recent storms were accompanied by some rather high winds, and as I write this I’m hearing the howling of multiple chainsaws: the most recent storm took out one of my neighbor’s large oak trees, and a crew is in the process of removing it. Fortunately the tree was in his backyard, and was away from any buildings, so I don’t think that much damage was done. It didn’t even hurt the fence that separates our yards — although it came very close.

Storms can interrupt development projects, especially those that are in the early stages: once a building has a structure and a roof, work can continue on inside while the storm rages outside. But we have a couple of large projects that are in the digging stage, and those of course had to pause while the rains fell. Once the sun came out and things began to dry out again, work was able to resume. I paid each of them a visit to see how they were faring, and except for some muddy ground you almost wouldn’t know that there had been an issue.

First up is the 33-unit townhouse project being built on the site formerly occupied by Honda Redwood City, at 601 El Camino Real. Flags have been placed to mark out various aspects of the five buildings that will make up this housing development, and various holes and trenches are in the process of being dug:

All of the conduits and pipes have to be put in place before foundations can be framed and poured; once those are in place I expect things will move quickly. But I’m pleased to see how well this project is chugging along.

Head down El Camino Real past Jefferson and you come to 1409 El Camino Real, the site of the so-called “Greystar IV” project. This 350-unit apartment building will end up being eight stories tall, but for now the construction crews are focused on digging the giant hole for the three-level underground garage:

If it isn’t clear from the above picture, this hole is very large, and very deep. They’re hauling a great deal of dirt from the site, and of course shoring up the sides of the hole as they go. I find this phase of the building process to be especially fascinating; I can’t seem to get enough of watching backhoes chewing into the earth.

Because this is a Greystar project, I should note that the above picture also shows three adjacent Greystar-built buildings! From left-to-right we have Huxley, at 1350 El Camino Real; Elan Redwood City, at 103 Wilson Street; and Franklin 299, at 299 Franklin Street. From looking at this picture it occurs to me that once this building is finished it’s going to be hard to get a picture of all four Greystar projects in one picture…

Moving on, over on Main Street the 851 Main Street project is also in the digging-a-garage phase. This project has done a good job (well, it isn’t good for me) of covering up the views from the Main Street side, but fortunately all I needed to do was head over to Walnut Street, where the construction vehicles are coming and going. From the opening in the fence needed for those trucks I was able to get a nice photo of the current status of this project:

[click the above for a version you can zoom in on]

For orientation purposes, the building along the right edge of the photo is where you’ll find Ralph’s Vacuum and Sewing Center, and the wooden fence you see in the middle of the picture is what separates this property from Angelica’s back patio. This site, in particular, was still pretty muddy. It does appear that they still have a way to go: this building will sit above a two-level underground garage.

One project that shouldn’t need much digging, other than the necessary trenches for a simple foundation and any needed utilities, is the Lathrop House relocation project. Construction fences have finally been erected around the parking lot behind the Historic Courthouse, so if you were wondering what those are for, that is where the Lathrop House, which currently sits just across Marshall Street, is going to be moved.

As you can see, so far they don’t appear to have done anything on the site. However, I crossed over to check on the house itself, and although I didn’t observe any new activity, I did notice that the parking spaces in front of the Lathrop House, on Hamilton Street, will be temporarily closed this Sunday, February 24, for “Lathrop House relocation.” I’m hoping to get over there that day to see just what they will be doing; I can’t imagine that they’ll be moving it so soon, but then again, Sunday is probably the best day for this kind of thing (Marshall Street is going to have to be closed for quite a while as they actually move it), so who knows? Hopefully I will, on Sunday…

There isn’t too much to report, but I did pay a quick visit to the 12-unit townhouse project that is rapidly nearing completion at 150 El Camino Real.

Once this project is completed I’ll try to tour one or two of the units and I’ll report on what I find. But my real attention now is focused more on the site next door, where the old Mountain Mike’s building still stands. That thing is getting worse by the day, it seems. The building now has a fair amount of graffiti to go with its boarded-up windows and its deteriorating roof. A developer has proposed tearing the old A-frame building down and building what would be, at least from a general layout perspective, a mirror image of the development at 150 El Camino Real. The project proposal for this 120 El Camino Real project is as-yet incomplete, however, so any activity on the site is still months away at best. Certainly I would think that the developers of the 150 El Camino Real project would love to see the next-door project get approved before they begin selling their 12 townhouses; I for one would be much more comfortable buying in a development like this if I was reasonably confident about what was going to be built just over the fence.

While I was out and about, I dropped in and checked out our latest coffee and juice place, Joe & The Juice.

In addition to various coffee and tea drinks, they of course have a wide variety of juice combinations, made to order and in two sizes. They also have sandwiches, omelets, scrambled eggs, and “Joegurts” (yogurt and granola) so consider checking them out for breakfast and lunch. You’ll find them at 889 Winslow Street, just opposite the “Box” buildings (and just around the corner from Theatre Way). They’re open every day of the week from 6 a.m. (7 a.m. on weekends) until 7 p.m.

Lastly, I may be jumping the gun just a bit, but the city just posted the agenda for the upcoming City Council meeting, and on that agenda is a vote to approve, among other things, the contractor and bid for the Highway 101 Pedestrian Undercrossing project. This project will provide a pedestrian and cyclist connection between the end of Main Street (where it reaches the Kohl’s Plaza parking lot) and the traffic circle between the Boardwalk Auto dealerships and the Courtyard by Marriott hotel. As someone who frequently walks back and forth between the west and east sides of Redwood City, providing a safer, more direct route would help me to no end. My only other options are negotiating the Whipple Avenue overpass, which I find to be incredibly dangerous, or crossing Highway 101 via Maple Street, which is safer but is a long way around. Of course, the people who really want this are the folks who live on the bay side of Highway 101: the residents of One Marina, Blu Harbor, and the various other apartment and condominium buildings out beyond the Boardwalk Auto dealerships will be using this far more than I.

The residents of One Marina are particularly eager to see this project completed: they want that dead-end sidewalk that you see in the above picture extended straight ahead and under the highway. Not only was this something that was promised to them many, many years ago, but the developer of One Marina paid a fair amount of money into a dedicated fund just for this project. That money has largely been just sitting idle, but not for much longer, it seems: the roughly $4 million project will be funded entirely by monies from a handful of dedicated funds, along with a $500,000 grant from San Mateo County. The city apparently has all of the necessary funds in hand; no general fund monies will need to be tapped for this project.

The contractor, Joseph J. Albanese, Inc. of Santa Clara, aims to begin the project this April, and finish up within seven months. Thus, we can expect to see a ribbon cutting for this long-awaited connector between the bay side and the mountain side of Redwood City late in 2019 — in October or November, if things go to plan.


Did you know that we have a Redwood City Teen Advisory Board? I didn’t, but I do now. The Teen Advisory Board is made up of High School students (there is also a Youth Advisory Board, made up of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders) and gives teens a voice within the city. Their latest effort, it seems, is determine whether there is interest in having a dedicated “teen hangout” space. Although I suspect that I have very few — if any — teens among my readership, I know that many of you out there have teenage children or grandchildren, or at least know some. For those of you that do, please let them know that the Teen Advisory Board is conducting a survey among Redwood City teens, ages 14-18, to determine whether there is an actual need for a dedicated hangout spot where teens could “gather, study, take classes, gain work experience, or just hang out.” As incentive for completing the survey, there is a raffle among those who do: among the prizes are a set of Apple AirPods, and a number of gift cards in varying amounts. The survey can be found at http://www.bit.ly/rwcteenhangoutspot; please help spread the word!

3 thoughts on “Digging in Deep

  1. Absolutely! They’re both getting torn down. The county is hoping to clear off the entire block (last I heard there they were still trying to work out what to do about the little Small Claims Court building on Bradford near Middlefield), after which they will construct a rather interesting-looking multi-story office building for various county employees. Check out that project here: https://cmo.smcgov.org/county-office-building-3

    • I’ve been hoping for some updated renderings of the county office building 3…they’re still using the original concept sketches. Jeanne Gang, the principal of Studio Gang the architecture firm handling the design, is considered to be a starchitect (aka one of the top current architects in the world)….so I’m expecting something good. You can see some of their past/current projects on their website: http://studiogang.com/

  2. Related to your comments on the Lathrop House move and the associated building project, is anything going to happen to the two ugly buildings on Marshall (525 and 555)?

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