Man About Another Town

This week, a shorter post — it’s Thanksgiving week, and I’m with my extended family enjoying a terrific get-together. But at the beginning of last week’s post (Man About Town), I mentioned that I had also taken a walk through San Carlos to check up on some of the projects going on in that town, and that I’d write about that walk in a future post. This post.

I keep spreadsheets tracking the various projects going on in both Redwood City and San Carlos, but because I mostly spend my time in Redwood City, I don’t update the San Carlos spreadsheet as often as I probably should. Last week, however, I spent a bunch of time crawling through San Carlos’ website, looking for projects and updating my spreadsheet to reflect what I found there. Then, because I don’t always believe what I read — and because San Carlos’ website seems to have some contradictory information (as well as some out-of-date information) I took a walk to see with my own eyes which projects really are underway, and which are not. I won’t go into all of them today, but will hit a couple of highlights. To further define the scope of this particular post, I’ve recently written a couple of posts about the large industrial projects being proposed or built east of the tracks in San Carlos; on this particular outing I didn’t spend any time in that part of town. Instead, I focused on projects west of the tracks, such as the ones along Laurel Street, on Walnut Street, on Elm Street, and the like.

One project that seems to be zooming along is the project to replace the old Zest Bakery building at 1240 El Camino Real with a four-story, mixed-use building containing eight condominiums (one affordable at the Moderate income level) and a 1,450 square foot ground-floor commercial space. Although I don’t have a copy of the design plans for this project, I at least have a rendering of what the finished project should look like:

It seems not very long ago that the old Zest Bakery building was torn down; here is what the site looked like when I paid it a visit last week:

As you can see, work was well underway to construct the building’s foundation. Interestingly, this building is slated to have on-site parking for 12 vehicles: I presume that these will be located within an internal garage that will share the building’s ground floor with the retail space. In order to fit 12 cars in, I’m guessing that they may be employing parking stackers. I’ll be watching for that.

Close to the above project, but one block back on Laurel Street, at long, long last the two-building, six-unit townhouse development at 1040 and 1052 Laurel St. is receiving its exterior finishes:

This project is coming to us from a company called Veev, who is “reinventing the way homes are built and experienced while working together to solve housing shortages around the world.” Their buildings are made from modern, high-tech materials (such as steel) and are laced through with smart devices and sensors. This should make for a set of high-tech homes that are efficient and programmable to meet the homeowner’s needs.

Formerly the site of two single-family homes, those homes were demolished and the construction fencing went up around the two properties in early 2019. Thus, these two buildings (each consisting of three townhouses) will have taken nearly three years to construct.

Over behind the Bianchini’s Market, at the corner of Walnut and Olive streets, the 24-unit Walnut Studios apartment building is rapidly nearing completion. This building, which will contain 23 affordable studio units and one market-rate unit for an onsite staff member, replaced a two-story, six-unit affordable building.

Charities Housing, the organization bringing this development to San Carlos, appears to still be taking applications for the building’s approximately 357-square-foot studios. According to the project website, “of the 23 studios, 6 are restricted for tenants at or below 30% AMI [Area Median Income], 6 at 40% AMI, 6 at 50% AMI, 5 at 60% AMI, and 2 for formerly homeless tenants.” Thus, this building will provide valuable housing to a wide-range of people.

At 1501 Cherry St. (the corner of Cherry and Chestnut streets) another long-awaited project is finally nearing completion:

This three-story condominium building sits atop an underground parking garage with some number of EV charging stations. Of the building’s 28 for-sale units, three are designated for those earning at the Very Low income level, and one is for a Low-income household. The remaining units are all market-rate. Interestingly, given its radically different size and style, this building is also being brought to us by Veev, the folks constructing the small condominium buildings at 1040 and 1052 Laurel St. Like that project, the units in this building are being constructed using modern construction methods and are designed with home automation in mind: each room (including the bathrooms) contains an automation control panel. Based on the project’s website, the units look quite lovely. They come in one, two, and three bedroom configurations. The one bedroom units are a bit under 750 square feet, while the three bedroom units are 1,668 square feet in size. All of the units in this building are flats, meaning that all of a given condominium is located on one same level. The building has a rooftop deck with an outdoor kitchen and a fire pit, which I presume will be open to all of the building’s residents.

The six-unit condominium building at the corner of San Carlos Avenue and Chestnut Street (at 1501 San Carlos Ave.) was completed a couple of months ago:

As you can probably see from the above photograph, though, there is another, somewhat similar project being constructed immediately adjacent to this one, at 1525 San Carlos Avenue (the above picture was taken from Chestnut Street). That project is currently covered in black draperies, as it receives its exterior finishes. Here is another picture of that same project, this time taken from San Carlos Avenue:

This project is somewhat bigger than its neighbor, with 18 for-sale condominiums accompanying the small ground-level commercial space (its recently completed next-door neighbor also has a small commercial space). Two of the 18 units are reserved for households of Moderate income, while one additional unit is reserved for those earning at the Low income level.

That was pretty much the extent of my journey through San Carlos last week, although I did head back towards home along Laurel Street. There I admired the block that has been closed to traffic in order to assist the many restaurants located along that section of street:

As you can see, a number of restaurants have built rather substantial outdoor eating areas in the parking lanes. It all makes for a safe but inviting environment for some really great dining.

A number of the residential projects in San Carlos seem to be smaller ones that consist of two or four units. However, some of these were approved some time ago but have yet to get underway, making me question whether they are still active. Such projects, which typically replace one or two single-family homes, are slowly increasing density in some of San Carlos’ residential areas. However, they aren’t likely to make much of a dent in San Carlos’ RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Assessment) goals, which mandate that the city promote the construction of around 2,735 new homes by the year 2030. Thus, expect to see more, higher, and larger housing projects springing up in San Carlos in the next several years.

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