Shining a Light

Given the somewhat nasty weather that is forecast for next week, I made some extra trips this week to gather as much information as I could. Indeed, I’m holding most of the photographs I took for next week’s post. But for this week, I wanted to shine some light on some relatively small projects going on in our area these days.

First up, last weekend I drove down to the Broadway post office, and on the way noticed that some activity had taken place on the site of our future CVS pharmacy at the intersection of Woodside and Bay roads. This new CVS, which will replace the one still very much in operation just across Woodside Road (off of Broadway, behind the Jack in the Box and Denny’s restaurants) from this site, is slated to be completed just about a year from now.

The last time I visited the site, I noted some minor progress. Since then, the project has moved much farther along:

This may not look like much, but the land is now completely cleared — including the old railroad right-of-way that once sliced through the property — and the rectangular area where the building’s foundation will presumably be located has been leveled, dug down, and covered with black plastic (look just beyond those orange pylons in the above). The rest of the land surrounding the building, all of which is still dirt at the moment, will be parking, driving lanes, the pharmacy drive-thru, and a couple of planters.

Once the building’s foundation is poured, I expect that the building — which I believe will be little more than a basic box, will indeed go up rather quickly, so an end-of-next-year opening seems very much within the realm of possibility.

As I walk around Redwood City, I keep an eye out not only for projects that I know about, but sites that appear ripe for redevelopment. Recently I noticed activity on one of these sites, one that most people probably don’t pay much attention to. This week I want to shine a light on one of them, 91 Winslow St. For years now the small one-story building located at this address has been boarded up, and the property has been surrounded by construction fencing. Here is a photograph I took of the lot back in January of 2017 — just about five years ago:

From the look of the building, and the fact that the construction fencing was temporary, I’m guessing that the building hadn’t been long abandoned by that point. Compare it to a more recent photograph, this one taken last July:

If you zoom in and look closely at the building in this second photograph, you’ll see that the trim paint on the building’s eaves is peeling. Also, you’ll see that the fencing is no longer temporary: that at some point between the two images the temporary fencing was replaced by a more permanent fence, with posts cemented into the ground.

Finally, though — and the reason I’m mentioning this building at all this week — we come to this photograph, which I took just a couple of days ago:

As you can see, the fencing (and many of the weeds) remains, but the building has been neatly removed from the parcel. Curiously, there are no posted signs, and after a brief online search I can find no mention of any potential projects for this site. All I have found so far is a permit application to demolish the building, but even that doesn’t show as having been approved (and the words “VOID PERMIT” appear tacked on to the description). So I’m a bit confused — and more than a bit curious. If anyone actually knows what is in the future for this particular parcel, please let us know! Otherwise, we’ll just have to wait, and watch.

Speaking of projects that have an air of mystery about them, early this year (or perhaps late last year; I don’t have an exact date) Redwood City’s St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store at 2406 El Camino Real closed (“due to diminished revenue”). Soon after, work began to rehabilitate the building and the parking lot. That work, which went on longer than I would have expected, wrapped up very recently, and this week I noticed that the parking lot was full of cars:

There are as yet no signs on the building, but it appears that the building might be offices of some sort. Given the relative lack of windows, perhaps it is a research and development space? Again, if anyone knows what this building is now home to, write in and let us know! Otherwise, I’ll keep searching and asking. Eventually I’ll figure it out.

One site that regular readers know I regularly shine a light on is the parcel along Marshall Street upon which the county is in the process of erecting its “County Office Building #3” (COB 3, for short). When I previously reported on this project, two of the metal tower-like structures had been erected; now, there are four (only three of which are clearly visible in this particular photo):

I had been led to believe that this building was going to be of “mass timber” construction, which I understood to mean that this five-story building’s structural elements would primarily be made of wood. As you can see, though, that does not seem to be the case. For a while I had convinced myself that perhaps these were simply elevator towers, but no longer. These structures are substantial enough that they clearly are intended to provide much of the building’s structural support.

To be fair, although the words “mass timber” were used at an earlier phase of the project’s development, the web page describing the current status of the project doesn’t actually use the words “mass timber,” so perhaps that idea was rejected somewhere along the way. It does say this, though:

The building will be built using cross-laminated timber to meet County green building standards including zero net energy and LEED Gold.

Presumably, cross-laminated (that is, glued-up) timbers will be used to span the spaces between those towers, which is something. And I still expect that the building will exhibit a lot of wood (and glass). I’m just not sure whether it still qualifies as a true mass-timber building (I may be misunderstanding the phrase; I’m neither an architect nor a builder). In any case, as the description says this new building should be very energy efficient, so it remains a building that the county can be proud of. Just not quite what I had expected.

Although I knew it was coming, I was surprised to see that Primo Honda, at 777 Industrial Rd. in San Carlos, has already moved to their new location. Here is what the dealership looked like when I walked around it this week:

As you can probably see, not only are all the cars gone, all of the signage — including the giant Honda logos — has been stripped from the building. While there were lights on inside, there didn’t appear to be anyone inside. I certainly saw no signs of life, and no cars in the parking lot or in the building.

What I find amazing is that this dealership building was built specifically as a new, upscale, and highly visible (being that it was located alongside Highway 101) home for the former Honda Redwood City (the site of which has since been redeveloped as townhomes). Primo Honda opened their doors on Monday, June 25, 2018: just three and a half years ago. And now, the building in the picture above is to be significantly remodeled and turned into life sciences office and lab space.

As I noted, although the dealership has vacated their recently built building, they have not left the area. It can now be found with a new name — Honda San Carlos — at 268 Industrial Road. But for now, at least, their new location seems to be a real step down from their old one:

No more custom-built dealership building! Now the entire operation seems to consist of one large metal warehouse-type building, presumably used for service and perhaps for some storage of new vehicles, and a rented double-wide portable building acting as the sales office. Plus a fair amount of paved land, of course, where a lot of the cars can be found.

To be fair, while I believe they lined up this site some time ago, they don’t seem to have had a lot of time to prepare for this move. They are doing some construction at the moment, although it appears that they aren’t building any new buildings as yet (I cannot find any permits for any buildings), but simply creating what might be a better driveway leading to the rear of the property:

Over time, the site will surely improve. And in any case, a business like this shouldn’t be all about fancy buildings, but instead about the product (which they have), and their sales and service operations. If I’m ever in the market for a Honda again (my wife and I have owned three over the course of our marriage, and loved them all; we only switched away when Honda got out — temporarily — of the electric vehicle market), then I would certainly give Honda San Carlos a chance at my business, irrespective of the type of building they are operating out of. Hopefully enough people will think the way that I do, and make this dealership a success. Certainly, I wish them well.

As “Walking Redwood City,” I’ll keep visiting both their old location and their new one, if only to shine a light on what is going on at both sites. Along with the many, many other sites I keep track of in Redwood City, San Carlos, and Menlo Park, of course…

With the rains coming, I realized that for some reason my closet no longer contains a proper raincoat, so I headed over to Redwood Trading Post to pick one up. They had a great selection, with a number of coats on sale, so I had no problem picking out one that would work for me at a price was comfortable with. As I was paying the cashier handed me a slip letting me know that they are having a holiday sales event on Saturday, December 11. Redwood Trading Post has been a “family-owned, Redwood City business since 1952” and, like many independent retailers these days, could use our support. Accordingly, if you are reading this before 6 p.m. on Saturday (which is when they close for the day), and you or someone you care about could use some outdoor gear, do consider paying them a visit. You’ll find Redwood Trading Post at 1455 Veterans Blvd. in Redwood City, near Chestnut Street. On Saturday (and Sunday, although the event will be over then) they’re open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; on weekdays they are open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

6 thoughts on “Shining a Light

    • Good catch! It’s weird that the transaction doesn’t seem to show up in the San Mateo County Recorder’s database. In any case, thanks for the reference.

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