A Real Discovery

On Thursday the Architectural Advisory Committee (AAC) reviewed the so-called “Redwood City Discovery” project, which is the apartment building planned for 1330 El Camino Real. That address identifies just one of the four parcels that will be taken up by this new building, assuming it is approved by the city (AAC review is an early step in the approval process; it will still need to go before the Planning Commission and/or the City Council for ultimate approval). Three of the affected parcels lie along El Camino Real, and today are home to Happy Donuts, Cycle Gear, and The Record Man:

The fourth parcel contains a single-family home, and is located behind Happy Donuts, on Madison Avenue. Note that the city has already approved a project for the final parcel along El Camino Real. That building will be constructed as part of the South Main Mixed-Use (ELCO Yards) project, and will consist of a six-story, 39-unit apartment building, at 1304 El Camino Real.

Although I was unable to watch the AAC meeting for the Redwood City Discovery project, I did look over the plans, which were updated back in December. I had previously written about the project back when it was first introduced, in May of 2021, and was interested to see what had changed. Upon first opening the new plans, it seemed apparent that a lot had changed. Here is one of the renderings that was included with the preliminary plans submitted to the city last May:

(This rendering shows the building as it would have appeared from the corner of El Camino Real and Madison Avenue; the right face of the building in this rendering would look out over El Camino Real.)

And here is a rendering showing the same corner of the building based on the updated design:

At first glance, they look quite different, and, stylistically, they are. However, when you dig into the details, the building hasn’t really changed all that much. It is still a six-story building containing 130 apartments atop a single-level underground parking garage with room for 110 cars. In its newer incarnation the building is somewhat larger in floor area, with a total of 94,490 square feet vs. the previous design’s 88,613 (these numbers only reflect the above-ground interior space and do not include the space taken up by the parking garage). The new design also more than doubles the amount of ground-level common outdoor space (to a total of just under 7,000 square feet) but drops the amount of common rooftop space by about a third, to about 4,500 square feet.

Here is a rendering shown the rear of the building, where most of the common outdoor space can be most easily seen:

The ground-floor open space is that bit of land shown planted with trees along the bottom of the image, near the center. Note that particular space is the majority of the ground-floor space where residents can get out-of-doors, but isn’t all of it: there are also two narrow strips along Madison Avenue. As for the rooftop space, it is on the highest level, where the trees are shown. Note that the lower rooftops shown in green are not usable by the building’s residents. I’ll be curious to find out if those rooftops will actually be planted with a ground cover crop of some sort, or will simply be covered in something like artificial turf, to improve the view for those apartments that look out onto those roofs.

Most noticeable about this building, of course, are the wild accent colors. Whether those survive AAC review will be interesting to see. They sure make the building stand out! The previous design also had similar accents (they’re less visible in the early renderings, though), so perhaps they are indeed acceptable.

This building is an exercise in economy; hopefully the resulting rents will reflect that fact. Of the 130 apartments, 109 are to be studios ranging in size from about 450 – 500 square feet. The plans currently show 10 one-bedroom units, seven two-bedroom units, and just three three-bedroom apartments.

People aren’t the only thing that’ll be efficiently managed within this building: the only way the developer can park 100 vehicles within a single-level garage is through the use of parking stackers, and this building will be employing a slew of them. The plans currently call for Klaus TrendVario 4300 Multiparking System stackers, for those who are curious. Oh, and note that the developer is counting on a number of residents not owning cars, since there are fewer spaces than there are apartments (much less bedrooms). But the building’s close proximity to transit — both Caltrain and the buses that run up and down El Camino Real — means that the developer need only provide 108 vehicular parking spaces for this particular building (note that bicycle spaces are counted separately; the building can accommodate 22 bicycles within the garage and within a bicycle storage room on the ground floor).

Given that the project may undergo some alteration based on AAC review, and then again based upon review by other governing bodies, I’m going to leave the discussion of this particular project at that, for now. More in the future, I suspect…

Near to this project, I did check in on the small project being done at 112 Vera Avenue. This project, which involves completely rebuilding five small side-by-side duplex buildings sat for so long that I had despaired of it ever getting done. But as I’ve reported before, a month or two ago work began anew on the project, and now things seem to be humming along. Each time I visit now I see active work underway, and each time I see a bit more progress. Here is the latest:

The concrete foundations, which were in terrible shape, apparently have been repaired, and the building’s floor structures are now in place. These used to be quite small, as you can see from the size of the floors; I have to wonder if they will continue to be small, or if the developer just might make these into two-story units. Not having looked at the plans, I can only guess at this point. Although the answer to that question should become self-evident in just a couple of weeks…

Just a block down Vera Avenue, the ten-unit townhouse project being built at the corner of Vera Avenue and Adams Street is rapidly reaching its conclusion:

From the designs these appear to be nice units, with about 2,000 square feet of living space and each with its own two-car garage. The development is designed with a central driveway providing access to those ten garages; the main entrances to each unit are either along Vera Avenue (shown above) or via a walkway that extends from Adams Street.

Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the developer has a website up where interested parties can at least express their interest. There is little on that site other than a place to provide your contact information at the moment, but if you are at all interested, consider signing up at https://www.veraavenue.com. Sales are slated to begin in “early 2022,” so that could be any day now…

Three housing projects either along or within a very short distance of El Camino Real. Projects like these are the future for Redwood City, as they can provide the most units for the least cost. But note that projects like these won’t be limited to El Camino Real but will likely appear along all of Redwood City’s high-traffic corridors. Thus, expect to see them not only along El Camino Real, but also most likely along Veterans Boulevard, Woodside Road, and, possibly even Jefferson Avenue and Alameda de las Pulgas (in certain areas only, of course — not all along those streets). It’s all part of the city trying to meet the housing goals it has set for itself, which is roughly 6,900 new homes (apartments, condos, single-family homes, and Accessory Dwelling Units) by the end of 2031. All of the projects needed to create so many new homes will leave plenty for me to discover in the years ahead. So stay tuned!

3 thoughts on “A Real Discovery

  1. You are a true treasure for Redwood City! I have been a resident here since 1974. I love reading all your observations of what’s going on in our city. Your research and information is unique and invaluable for those of us who drive by all these new structures and would not know anything except for your writings. I thank you for all your hard work and tireless investigations.

    Carol Kelso

  2. Those multi-parking stackers are impressive, like a giant slide puzzle for cars. No matter how much they cost, I’m sure it’s less than sacrificing the equivalent capacity in single-level parking.

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