Parking, Elevated

This week I took a long walk — a little over 10 miles — on Tuesday. I essentially followed Alameda de las Pulgas south to Woodside Road, and then followed Woodside to Bay Road. Next, I headed back up Chestnut Street to El Camino Real, where I jogged over to Vera Ave and followed it to Red Morton Park. Finally, I wandered back north to home. I thought it would be a relatively cool day, and started out wearing a thin sweatshirt. However, the day soon turned warm, and that sweatshirt came off. Although I completed my walk in just in my shirtsleeves, it was still on the warm side. Way too warm for a day in mid-February, frankly, but of course there was nothing I could do about that but enjoy it…

As is often the case, I chose my route so as to enable me to check in on a couple of projects. My first target was the two-story (sort-of) building at 1390 Woodside Rd. (next to the Bank of America, across from Woodside Plaza). On the way I took a good look at the space in the Woodside Plaza shopping center where Ralph’s Vacuum & Sewing Center hopes to move. There are still no signs of activity there, though, so for your sewing and vacuum needs you’ll want to continue heading downtown to the intersection of Broadway and Main Street.

As for the building under construction at 1390 Woodside Rd., now that its steel framing is complete, visible progress has slowed.

I continue to see people working on the building, so presumably they are working on aspects of the building that aren’t easily visible from the street (structural flooring, plumbing, electrical, etc.). This building, you may recall, will look like a typical two-story office building, but in reality will really just be an elevated one-story office building with a small ground-floor lobby providing access to that second floor. The bulk of the ground floor will be parking, with the offices overhead providing a degree of protection from the elements. It’s a creative use of the limited amount of square footage available to the developer, and avoids the high costs that come with digging an underground garage. I’ll note that there will also be some amount of surface parking in a single row between the building and the Bank of America (which you can just see behind and to the left of the 1390 Woodside building in the above photo).

The building’s second floor will be 11,250 square feet in area. On the ground floor, the building will have just 750 square feet of space.That 750 square feet will encompass the building’s small lobby, with its elevator shaft and stairwell, as well as a secondary stairwell and a room labeled “water.”

As I walked down Woodside Road, I was interested (and a tad disappointed) to note that the Hallmark House Apartments building still isn’t open for occupancy: the only vehicles in the garage appeared to be those used by the contractors. The new tenants surely will be moving in soon, though — the building looks very much complete.

I went all the way down Woodside to Bay Road not only to check on the progress of the new CVS drugstore, but also to check on the parcel next door. First, the CVS store’s slab foundation is complete and curing in the sun:

This new CVS store, of course, will replace the one currently found across Woodside Road in what’s left of the Broadway Plaza shopping center. The Sobrato Organization, the developer building the large mixed-use Broadway Plaza project, is building this new CVS so that they can then tear down the CVS store on their main project site and commence construction there. Originally they had planned to build Broadway Plaza in two phases, starting with the residential buildings up at the Chestnut Street end, and then later constructing the office buildings at the Woodside Road end. That may still be the plan, but given how quickly this new CVS is now going, they may instead just wait until CVS has moved and then develop the entire main site at once.

Whatever their approach, when Sobrato first put together the Broadway Plaza project, they faced having to either pay a sizable amount to the city’s affordable housing fund (back then, an estimated $15 million) or else build 82 affordable units either on the main Broadway Plaza project site or on some other site. That caused them to purchase two properties directly across Woodside Road from Broadway Plaza: the two that front onto Bay Road and together span from Woodside Road to Charter Street.

Back then Sobrato planned to put 120 units of affordable housing on the parcel at the corner of Bay and Charter. After getting feedback on that plan, though, they ended up redesigning the whole Broadway Plaza project, putting the affordable housing on the main site adjacent to the market-rate housing, and shifting the CVS drugstore from the main site to the parcel at the corner of Woodside Road and Bay. As for the parcel at he corner of Bay and Charter, they elected to wait until some point in the future to decide what to do with that. That future is now, though: they recently submitted plans for a new two-story, 84,000-square-foot research-and-development office building to be built on that other parcel.

Here is what that parcel looks like today, as viewed from the corner of Bay and Charter:

Currently, it consists entirely of surface parking. The building you see in the above photo is not part of their parcel: it sits mid-block on Charter Street. Sobrato’s property actually forms an “L” around that building, extending behind its left side (as seen above).

From the other corner of their property, along Bay Road, the parcel looks like this:

In taking the above picture I was standing along Bay Road right where this project and the new CVS drugstore parcel meet; the CVS site is just off the left edge of this picture.

With this new parcel being L-shaped, naturally the building planned for it is also L-shaped. As currently designed the building takes up most of the parcel (there would be a small amount of surface parking about where those blue plastic pipes can be seen in the above photo, and there would be a narrow landscaped area up against the border between this parcel and the CVS drugstore parcel). So where is the parking? Cleverly, the designer has placed a 108-space parking lot on the roof of the two-story building. A driveway entering the property from Bay Road would run right along the edge of the property between the building and the CVS site; it would lead to a long ramp that would wrap around two sides of the building and provide vehicular access to the roof.

Here is what the building would look like from the corner of Bay Road and Charter Street:

The driveway entrance (and exit) would be to the left of this building, with the ramp being attached to that side of the building:

(This ramp should be clearly visible from the CVS drugstore parking lot.) As you can see, the ramp rises up and then wraps around the rear of the building.

Elevating the parking to the rooftop level is an interesting idea, one we haven’t seen in quite some time. I like that the cars won’t be visible from the street, and that the developer won’t have to dig an underground garage to accommodate the building’s parking. A rooftop garage also has the advantage in that valuable garage and building space doesn’t need to be taken up by the garage access ramps (such ramps take up a lot of square footage within a parking garage). As well, underground garages need to be studded with support poles that hold up the building above, further reducing the available number of parking spaces. Here, though, pretty much the entire roof is available for parking, as you can see from this plan showing the building’s parking level:

I do like the way these folks think.

As for the Broadway Plaza project itself, the site is currently quiet — although I should note that all of the materials and equipment that had been staged there when work beneath the surrounding roads was ongoing have now been removed. Other than the existing CVS drugstore, plus some areas between the drugstore and Woodside Road that appear to be undergoing some sort of dewatering (or, perhaps, decontamination) process, the site is clean and clear:

That about does it for this week. I did go by the 1180 Main project site (the large office building being constructed along Main Street between Maple and Elm streets) and although work continues apace there, there isn’t much to report. I also wandered through the former Towne Ford and Hopkins Acura sites, but everything is quiet, waiting for the demolition phase of the massive South Main Mixed-Use project to get underway. And, on the way home, I passed by the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Myrtle Street. There is a huge remodeling project going on there that will keep me entertained for months to come:

This was a big house (four bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 3,300 square feet) on a very large lot (it has a pool and a pool house) that sold just about a year ago for $3.3 million. Although I didn’t tour the house when it was for sale, based on the website constructed to help market the property, it clearly needed a lot of upgrading. The house, as you can see, has been almost entirely gutted. Currently the framing is being shored up in spots, and the pool is being rebuilt. This week pretty much all of the landscaping was removed (there are a number of large mature trees in boxes on site, ready to give the place an “instant yard” once construction is much further along). Someone is going to end up with a very nice little mini-estate once this project is done. In the mean time, though, I’ll be watching…

3 thoughts on “Parking, Elevated

  1. Pingback: Putt’n Around Redwood City | Walking Redwood City

  2. Huh, rooftop parking…makes a surprising amount of sense. Between Stanford Redwood City, Facebook in east Menlo Park, and all the life science buildings in San Carlos the local industrial areas adjacent 101 are sure seeing a lot of changes.

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