Sometimes a project drags on for an inordinate amount of time, causing me to wonder if it’ll every complete. Finally, at long, long, last, the end of the Highway 101 Pedestrian Undercrossing project is in sight (honest!). Next Wednesday, November 10, at 2 p.m., Redwood City will hold the official ribbon cutting ceremony for this very long-awaited project.
I plan to be there, to be one of the first to use the new crossing (legally; I’ve already noted one or two people sneaking past the fences in an attempt to use it). If any of you have the time and are inclined to come watch the somewhat brief (I’m guessing) festivities, we’re all invited! The invitation seems to imply that the ceremony will be held on the Courtyard by Marriott hotel side — take Whipple Avenue over Highway 101 to get there — but parking is tight over there, so perhaps they’ll let people park on the Main Street side, in the Kohl’s Plaza parking lot, and use the undercrossing itself to get to the ceremony (me, I plan to walk to the event). If you attend, do pay attention in case the ceremony is actually on the Kohl’s Plaza side (the invitation isn’t completely clear), and you suddenly find yourself having to drive around to the other side of the project, which is where Main Street ends near Highway 101. Personally, I’d have held it on that side, both because there is plenty of parking and because there is also a very short segment of the Redwood Creek trail across Main Street from the undercrossing that presumably will open along with the undercrossing itself:
Anyway, although I may include a photo or two of the project in next week’s post, just to show the ribbon-cutting and the final project in all its glory, it seems I’ll finally be able to put this project to rest and stop writing about it, after — if you can believe it — five years. The project actually got underway, sort-of, well before that when, in early 2013, the city first applied to the Army Corps of Engineers, California Fish and Wildlife, Caltrans, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board for permission to build the project. It took until the end of September, 2016 before all of the needed permits were finally granted. Shortly afterwards, in November, I wrote The King of Tides, my first blog post that mentioned the undercrossing project. In December the project was put out to bid, with the winning contractor, Joseph J. Albanese, Inc., being awarded the contract in February of 2019. Actual work on the project began in April of that same year, and now, some 980 days later, this simple-seeming project is finally wrapping up. With so many governmental bodies beyond the city involved, delays were bound to occur, and indeed they did! And COVID-19 didn’t help, of course.
So, I get to take a rest from watching and talking about this particular project, and I’ll finally get to start using it. But my work is never done, it seems. Just as the undercrossing wraps up, yet another new project has been submitted to the city for review. Windy Hill Property Ventures, who brought us the now nearly complete six-story office building at the corner of Walnut and Bradford streets — tucked in behind the Marston apartments building — has proposed a new project on the opposite side of downtown. This latest is to be located at 1201 Main Street, very close to where Main and Maple streets split. Today the site is occupied by this rather unexciting building (from an architectural standpoint), that is home to Wings Learning Center:
Although I’ve never had any personal interaction with them, from their website Wings Learning Center appears to be one of Redwood City’s hidden gems. Their stated mission is “creating a learning environment where students with autism could learn at their own pace and be inspired to take steps towards their own personal growth,” and from their website the place seems terrific. I do hope that they get help finding a new home if this project goes forward.
What Windy Hill is proposing to build in place of the above is a triangular (to match the property) 88,000-square-foot, five-story mixed-use building atop a two-level underground parking garage. The building would contain 28 residential units on its upper two floors (20 one-bedroom units and 8 studios), with offices occupying most of the remaining space. The ground floor would actually consist of additional parking in an internal garage, about 6,100 square feet of office space, and a lobby for the residential units. The building’s second and third floors would be entirely offices, while the fourth floor would have some office space, a deck for the offices, a deck for the residential units, and 14 of the building’s 28 residences. Finally, the fifth floor would contain the remaining 14 residences.
So far, the plans that Windy Hill have submitted to the city don’t have a lot of renderings. Here is the best one, from which it is fairly easy to identify the two mostly residential floors up top; the decks to be used by the office workers (the red umbrellas to the left) and the residents (the red umbrellas to the right); and the main entrance to the office portion of the building (towards the left) and the residential lobby (towards the right).
Some — possibly all — of the residential units will likely be affordable, but how many, and at what levels, Windy Hill has yet to specify. As usual, the approval process will take time (years, most likely) and the project proposal may well undergo changes along the way. I of course plan to keep an eye on it, and will let you know if anything significant arises.
Speaking of letting you know about changes to an existing project, here are a couple of small updates to some of Redwood City’s other ones:
- The ELCO Yards (aka South Main Mixed-Use) project — the giant six-block office/residential/retail development that was approved just about a year ago (Greystar Development received City Council approval on November 23, 2020) has been sold to IQHQ, a life-science real estate developer. This doesn’t really have much, if any, noticeable affect on the project, which should continue to go forward as planned. The one change to expect is that some of the office space will instead be built as lab space, but unless you were fated to work in one of the development’s four commercial buildings you aren’t going to be likely to notice. I should note that it is possible that IQHQ only bought the portion of the project that contains the four office/lab/retail buildings; it isn’t clear whether they will also assume responsibility for the two residential buildings. Either way, though, it still appears that all six buildings will be built, pretty much as outlined in the documents linked to from the project website.
- The folks behind the drastic redo of the Sequoia Station shopping center property — a project that has yet to be approved — have started an email newsletter dedicated to the project (I just received the first issue). While I will of course continue to follow the progress of this project closely and will write about any activity that I deem interesting, if you want to follow it more closely I encourage you to give them your contact info and receive the newsletter yourself. To subscribe, fill out the very brief form here.
- San Mateo County’s project to build a Navigation Center on the parcel of land the county recently obtained from Redwood City in a land swap has an associated web page: https://cmo.smcgov.org/navigation-center. There isn’t a ton of material there yet — they have yet to obtain bids from contractors and vendors — but if that is another project you are interested in keeping a closer eye on, the web page should be a good resource. So far, I’ve learned that the county is looking into the possibility of obtaining the modular housing units, from which the center will be assembled, from more than one vendor, in order to speed things along.
- The eight-unit townhouse-style condominium project that was approved back in June for the site at 955 Woodside Rd. (which formerly was home to an animal hospital and an empty lot that was used for storage by Honey Bear Trees) has yet to break ground, but already there is a website where prospective buyers can both get information about the project and can get in touch with Compass Realty, who apparently will be handling the sale of the townhouses.
Earlier today, while on my rounds for Meals on Wheels, I noticed that the curtains obscuring the front of Redwood City’s latest Habitat for Humanity project have come down, exposing the building’s facade for all to see:
The building, which you find at 612 Jefferson Ave., has a somewhat unusual face, but I like it. As you may recall, this building will consist of 20 condos that will be sold at below market rates. Each of the building’s upper five floors will have four condos, while the ground floor will have a tiny lobby (on the right) and some utility spaces, with the rest being a small parking garage (with its entry door towards the left edge of the front face).
Close by, next to the Arroyo Green senior housing building on Bradford Street, the pathway that runs between that building and Redwood Creek has a beautiful new sign to help make its presence known:
This thing is made out of steel, and is really, really nice. I didn’t have time today to walk this segment of the trail and see if there is a similar sign at the other end of the segment (where the creek crosses beneath Main Street), but hopefully more signs like this will help people find their way to the new trail segments as they are constructed and connected to the existing ones — one of which is the Highway 101 Pedestrian Undercrossing itself! (How is that for bringing things back to where we started? Not bad, eh?)
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to remind you, and in any case most of us check the time by looking at cellphones and such that automatically adjust their clocks, but be aware that here in California we switch from Daylight Savings Time back to Standard Time this Sunday (November 7) at 2 a.m. If you, like me, have old-school clocks and watches that don’t adjust themselves (don’t forget the ones in your cars!), you may want to turn them back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday night. And enjoy the extra hour of rest.