Where the Action Is

Last week’s post, Signs of Life, talked about a couple of projects that had stalled for one reason or another but were finally showing some signs that they were once again underway. This week I took a long walk down to the Stanford in Redwood City campus, and all along the way I kept seeing amazing signs of activity. All of a sudden, there is a lot going on in Redwood City…

One of the stalled projects I called out last week was Mademoiselle Colette (the new patisserie that is coming to the spot that formerly housed Pamplemousse), and I noted that the appearance of a liquor license notification in the papered-over shop windows was a welcome sign. This week I noted a lot of evidence of actual work going on. My eye was initially caught by the bare wood dividing the large panes of glass in the front windows; I presume that it’ll be painted (perhaps it has been by now) but at the time it really stood out:

Harder to see in the above picture, but very much evident from where I was standing on the sidewalk, is the fact that the interior now seems nearly done. All this indicates to me that these folks will likely be opening soon. Personally, I can’t wait!

Speaking of restaurants opening, Old Port Lobster Shack (in the Box building closest to the Caltrain station, next door to Cru) opened last weekend. When I dropped by on Monday they were still putting some finishing touches on the place — I had to dodge a stepladder — and half of the oddly shaped dining room (the shape is dictated by the building, it seems) wasn’t yet open, but they were indeed serving food. This Lobster Shack, like the one in Woodside Plaza, has a nice outdoor area, which I’m sure gave them extra impetus to open, given how nice our weather is right now. For those of you who don’t like, or cannot eat, shellfish, note that Lobster Shack does have a couple of items on their menu that don’t seem to be made with shellfish, including a Caeser[sic]/Louie Salad, Fish and Chips, Mac and Cheese, and an Old Port Burger. The menu board had a section titled “Old Port Burgers & BBQ” but I didn’t see any actual BBQ items on the menu; perhaps they are planning to bring some of the barbecued items from their Woodside Plaza location to this store. In any case, here is what the menu board looked like on Monday:

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

I plan to keep an eye on it to see if their menu is expanded at some point in the future.

Some time ago Pauline Books and Media — the Catholic bookstore — moved from its Brewster Avenue location (between El Camino Real and Perry Street) to 3250 Middlefield Road, in North Fair Oaks. Their former location, a small single-story white brick building, sat empty with a “For Lease” sign on it for a number of weeks. But as seems to be the norm these days, such a space didn’t remain empty for long. It is now occupied by — you guessed it — a small tech company. Although they didn’t have a sign up when I went by, I believe that it is a company called nCent Labs.

On my way down towards the Stanford campus I headed down Marshall Street and was delighted to see that there were a bunch of folks in the process of lowering the Lathrop House onto its new foundation. Back in early May I wrote about the relocation of this building to its new home at the corner of Marshall Street and Hamilton Street, just behind the historic courthouse. But at the time, although the house had been moved, it remained up in the air on stacks of wood and metal while the building’s new foundation was finalized. On this visit I was interested to see that the building was being lowered using a combination of pneumatic jacks and the old-fashioned hand-cranked kind, much like you would use to jack up a car (although much beefier, of course). It was fascinating to watch the workers use the jacks to hold the weight of the building while they pulled out a layer of boards from the temporary stacks that had been supporting the building. Then, with workers at each of the many jacks working in concert, they lowered the building to the new height of the wooden stacks. It was kind-of like a giant game of Jenga, only with multiple stacks and with a house sitting on top of them.

That day they dropped the house to a level that was fairly close to the foundation:

When I went by today (Friday), I noted that the Lathrop House is now resting on its foundation. All of the steel beams and wooden stacks have been removed.

Skipping over to Broadway, for the first time since Young’s Candy & Ice Cream closed, I saw the door open. This shop is slated to become CoffeeBar, but for many months now it has seemingly sat idle, with only papered-over windows and a large “CoffeeBar” sign in the window. Suddenly, though, this project seems to be in high gear. The windows are gone, and have been temporarily replaced by plywood. The open door let me see that work really was taking place inside:

Across the street, incidentally, I just noticed that the “ECK Center” (a place that apparently puts on Eckankar classes and events) has moved from its location in one of the Broadway storefronts within the Sequoia Hotel building to San Carlos (on Laurel Street, near White Oak Way, in case you are curious). This has freed up a really nice-sized retail space within that building, on a section of Broadway that seems to be particularly hot right now. Somehow I missed this move: it appears that they moved out back in February.

Speaking of things that I nearly missed, I knew that Airport Appliance, out on El Camino Real a couple of blocks south of Woodside Road, was moving out, but I hadn’t realized that they had a deadline, and that deadline had passed. I also didn’t catch that they were moving to lower Broadway. A sign in the window of their new location states that “Due to unforeseen permitting delays, our new location in downtown Redwood City will not open until the end of July” and directs people to their other locations around the Bay Area until then. It appears that they had timed the closure of their El Camino Real location to coincide with when they thought their Broadway location would be open, but delays resulted in a gap, with neither store open. Fortunately, their new location will be open very soon. When I went by the showroom appeared to be full of major appliances, and they appeared to be putting the finishing details on the building’s interior trim. As for where they are now located, you’ll find them in the two storefronts formerly occupied by PWS (a retailer of commercial laundry equipment and parts), at 1748 Broadway in Redwood City:

Next on my walk I came to the thing that almost derailed the entire rest of my trip: the old Broadway Plaza shopping center is coming down! At least, part of it is: the CVS store, at least, will remain up and in operation for at least another year or two. But I couldn’t help but notice the giant excavators chewing into the walls of the old Big Lots store, while a smaller one was taking out the old Radio Shack, and Mar y Tierra Taqueria spaces. I was transfixed by all of the activity, and stood there on Broadway for quite a while, watching and taking pictures.

I eventually circled the block, and got a good view of the demolition of the smaller stores from the Bay Road side of the property:

It was interesting how they were tackling the center section of the shopping center from the rear, while the Big Lots was being taken down from the front. As I watched, it seemed to me that they were working quickly, and indeed when I went by on Friday it appeared that the Big Lots, the OfficeMax, and all of the small stores in the middle had been completely torn down and the rubble hauled away — although for some reason those concrete pillars you can see in the upper photo remain. Presumably those will be taken down when the foundations are dug up; they are all made of concrete, and can probably be recycled together right on site.

As it was getting late I reluctantly tore myself away and continued down Broadway to the Stanford in Redwood City campus. I’ll save a discussion of that for another day, however.

Almost everywhere you look in Redwood City it seems as if there’s something going on. All of the above of course doesn’t even include the large projects that have been underway for some time. This includes the large apartment building being built at 1409 El Camino Real (“Greystar IV”) or the large retail/office building going up at 851 Main Street. This latter project is getting hard to photograph, incidentally. The back side (along Walnut Street) is a busy place, and I can only take pictures there now when they aren’t working. Along Main Street they’re using a double layer of construction fencing, both covered with mesh netting. But some conveniently aligned holes in that netting allowed me to grab a recent in-progress picture of the construction so far:

What you are looking at here is the floor, the side wall, and part of the back wall of the building’s two-level underground parking garage.

Redwood City seems to be in high gear these days, as far as construction and new businesses are concerned. If you are wondering where the action is, well, it’s everywhere! It is admittedly somewhat annoying to live with — for one thing, there seem to be traffic cones all over the place restricting where we can drive at the moment — but at certainly gives me a lot to write about. And very soon now we’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of all of those projects. Now if they’d just stop tearing up the intersection of Broadway and Marshall Street (they started again this morning, for some reason)…

2 thoughts on “Where the Action Is

  1. Hi, you mentioned the magic words “ice cream” in this post. Have you noticed that the “Snacks” store, recently opened on Middlefield at 7th Ave, scoops Mitchell’s icecream? I’m hooked on lucuma. Yum.

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