So Close

Lately I’ve been taking walks with a specific destination in mind, in order to research a particular project or topic that I was planning to write about. It has been some time since I took a long walk just to see what I could see, though, so this week I did just that. Because I didn’t have a specific destination in mind, I just wandered — for 12 miles, as it turns out! While I gathered a lot of information and took a lot of pictures, for this week’s post I’ve chosen to focus in some things that are very nearly, but not quite, done.

The first is one that I’ve been wondering about for some time:

The above is the recently reworked intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Cleveland Street, looking south along Cleveland Street from, roughly, Harrison Avenue (where North Star Academy, and the new 17-unit townhouse development, are located). The actual work to redo this intersection began just about a year ago, and the new signals were first installed about five months ago. But as of Wednesday (October 6), those signals have yet to be activated. Perhaps the city is waiting for a part, and supply chain issues are creating unexpected delays?

That intersection, by the way, isn’t the only reworked one that has yet to be fully activated; the signals along the remodeled section of Middlefield Road between Main Street and Woodside Road are in the same boat:

Here, though, we have two sets of signals, with the old signals still functioning and the new ones standing mutely in front. This particular project is so close: all of the infrastructure is in place, and all that remains — besides activating these new signals and taking out the old ones — is to reroute some of the overhead wires into the underground conduits that lie ready to accept them. Once that is done, all of the overhead wires that once crisscrossed over Middlefield Road will be gone (along with the poles that supported them), and we’ll be able to fully enjoy this significantly more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly section of road.

South of town, I paid a brief visit to the Sunrise Senior Living center at the corner of El Camino Real and E. Selby Lane (in North Fair Oaks):

While I don’t think that the doors have been opened to new residents just yet, Sunrise is selling apartments at their off-site “sales gallery.”

That sales gallery is located further down El Camino Real, just a block south of Fifth Avenue. I’d seen signs indicating that the gallery was in the old Franciscan Forge building (now renamed “The Forge”), but when I got there and looked into that building’s large windows I was a bit surprised to see that the place appeared completely empty (and, as you can see from the following photograph, not yet leased).

I then noticed the orange sign on the street corner directing me to the rear of the building, where the parking lot is. There, I discovered that the sales center is tucked into the far back corner of the building, making it convenient for those arriving by car and not quite so for those arriving on foot. Of course, they probably don’t get many true walk-ins…

In the above photo, that white SUV parked all by itself is basically in front of the sales center.

Having made it that far south, I naturally had to go just a bit farther, to check on the progress of the building — which I presume is still intended to be a medical office building — that is rapidly nearing completion at the corner of El Camino Real and Loyola Avenue. This site was formerly home to Bonsai Japanese Cuisine, which closed in August of 2016. For a while after the closure the building sat empty, after which time it was partially demolished. The project to transform the restaurant building into something else proceeded in fits and starts for a while, until just about a year ago when the site was almost entirely cleared off and work on an all-new building commenced. As you can see, that building is nearly done now:

Interestingly, the old “Bonsai Japanese Cuisine” sign that stood out on El Camino Real stayed up through nearly all of the construction, only coming down within the last couple of weeks. I take that as a sign (no pun intended) that this project is just about to wrap up.

Much closer to home — and back within the Redwood City borders — I checked in on the three-story office building being erected across Elm Street from the Main & Elm restaurant. The exterior of the building is now pretty much done:

At this time activity is mostly concentrated on the building’s interior and on its grounds. The pedestrian bridge spanning the open section of Redwood Creek that runs through the property has been poured, although I presume there is still a lot of detail work to be done on it:

The portion of this project’s property not taken up by the creek (which will be fenced off for safety, but will be very much visible) will consist of walkways and landscaped areas that will be open to the public. It is also slated to contain a small free-standing cafe that will presumably sell coffee and snacks to both the folks working in the building as well as to any members of the public who elect to enjoy this new public space.

As for who will be working in the building, the entire thing was pre-leased by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative some time ago. This apparently is for expansion space, and is not a replacement for their current offices in the four-story brick building at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Broadway — so CZI appears to be growing rapidly.

The above building is located at 1180 Main St. Continuing down Main, the reworked “Young’s Auto Parts” building at 929 Main St. looks to be pretty much done:

The rather large “Available” sign affixed to the front signals that the building’s owner has yet to sign a tenant for this nicely done 8,000-square-foot retail/restaurant space.

A bit farther down the street, the four-story office building (with one or two retail spaces behind a historic facade along the street) at 855 Main St. also appears to be complete — although work undoubtedly continues inside, to fit out the upper three floors for the building’s new tenants:

The top three floors of this building have been completely leased by two law firms, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP taking the building’s uppermost two floors, and Hogan Lovells set to occupy the entirety of the second floor. The first floor contains some additional amount of office space, although that has yet to be leased. As for the retail spaces which appear so prominently in the above photograph, those may or may not have been leased yet. I haven’t heard that they have, but then again the windows being papered over hints that something may be going on inside…

Incidentally, although it appears that there are three retail spaces, that’s an illusion. I got a good look at the inside before the windows were papered over, and it seems clear that the left-most doorway serves primarily to provide access to the building’s underground garage. The other two doorways, however, do open onto a large retail space that can either be used for a single tenant or can be divided into two. Regardless, all three doorways have their own addresses: from left-to-right they are 847, 849, and 851 Main St. And as for the large arched doorway to the right of the retail space(s), that is the main entrance to the office portion of the building. Its address is 855 Main St.

Tucked away on Walnut Street, nestled in the embrace of the Marston Apartments building, the six-story office building at the corner of Walnut and Bradford streets is also rapidly nearing completion:

The outside of the building looks done, and the work I observed was focused on the sidewalks on the Walnut and Bradford street sides of the building. Undoubtedly some work is going on inside, but given that I don’t believe any of the building’s space has yet been leased, a proper build-out of the interior will likely wait until the new tenant(s) have been identified. For the record, this six-story building has only four stories of office space: there are two above-ground levels of parking behind that pretty facade, atop a third underground level. Those four stories of office space add up, though, to 65,000 square feet, making this building suitable for one large or multiple smaller tenants.

The next project I visited on my long walk that falls into the “so close, but not quite” category is a perennial favorite: the Highway 101 Pedestrian Undercrossing. Multiple people have asked me if this thing is open yet, and although I can see no reason why it isn’t, the fences remain up; it is still not ready for its big moment, it seems:

As to what is going on, the online project description has been updated with the following:

Project construction is ongoing. The contractor is currently working to complete the remaining landscape and electrical items. The contractor aims to complete the remaining scope of work by the end of September 2021.

Given that we are only about a week past “the end of September 2021,” it could open up any day now…

One project that is truly done, it seems, is the new county parking garage at the corner of Veterans Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue:

Although not open to the public at the moment, based on signs posted at the garage’s entrances, it is open to county employees who hold the appropriate passes and permits.

As parking garages go, the county’s is a fairly decent looking one, thank goodness. But its best feature is hidden behind the building: there is a terrific piece of public art that can only be viewed by going around to the small landscaped area in the rear:

Yep, that’s a giant ball made out of hubcaps. A lot of old, very interesting hubcaps. It is really neat to look at, especially when the sun is out and reflecting off of the mostly chrome discs. Do give it a visit sometime!

Lastly, an update on those rather unusual electronic signs that have been added to a number of light posts around downtown Redwood City:

Most of them are still in test mode, but as you might be able to tell from the above photograph, the one by the Perry Street parking lot (just north of Broadway) appears to be functioning. All of these ring-shaped digital signs are intended to direct motorists to available parking; many, like the one shown above, are positioned adjacent to city-owned parking lots. Others, however, are located along popular streets, such as Broadway, to direct people to lots with open spaces. As for what they are going to say, when fully operational, I spent some time watching the one shown above and so I can tell you that it displays the number of available spaces in the parking lot, along with an animated arrow pointing into the lot. Here is a closer view:

[click the image to get a larger version you can zoom in on]

The numbers do not change their position — only their value, as cars come and go. The arrows, however, animate along the perimeter of the ring, continually moving in the direction of the parking lot. As for how the system works, I thought at first that they were tied into the pay-by-space machines, but after watching the system in action I believe that instead those two square boxes above the ring, which appear to be cameras, are watching the lot and actually counting empty spaces. I didn’t count the empty spaces myself to verify the accuracy of the number, but I did watch the numbers change as cars drove around the lot. I also saw them change when I didn’t notice any real movement within the lot, so either I missed something or the cameras aren’t quite accurate. I’m guessing the latter: I would think that at times some cars (parked or moving) will block the view of some spaces, making it difficult or even impossible to get an accurate count. However, the system doesn’t really have to be 100% accurate, just good enough to be in the ballpark.

I’m still a bit skeptical that these signs will be easily readable to a driver searching for a parking space, but I’m willing to give the system a chance and see how it works out. In the meantime, though, keep an eye out for these new electronic signs. For those “in the know,” they can give an edge over the space-seeing competition…

With everything going on in Redwood City, at any one time there will always be some project or another that is just so close to being done. Or, as is more likely the case, given the huge number of projects underway (or soon to get underway) here in Redwood City, a handful of them…

9 thoughts on “So Close

  1. The Cleveland/Jefferson traffic signal is due to be activated on Wednesday 10/25, according to email from the principal of North Star/ McKinley. There will be new turning rules also, which should keep kids safer and improve traffic circulation.

  2. Great write up! I thought I remember reading a few years ago Cheeky Monkey was looking to move into a portion of the new retail space at 847-855 Main Street once completed.

  3. I hope one of those “soon to get underway” projects will be the Hopkins Avenue Corridor project. Not sure why this project moves so slowly, especially since it was launched years ago and finally approved by the city several months ago. It would be great if a future column could describe the current status and expected timeline.

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