Checking Out

Recently there have been a couple of interesting (but small) changes on the hotel front in Redwood City. This week, I checked them out.

First off, the latest submission to the city’s Development Projects web page is for a Holiday Inn Express & Suites hotel, to be constructed at the corner of Broadway and Beech Street, where today you’ll find the 18-room single-story Garden Motel:

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, though, you may recall that we’ve heard this song before. Twice, in fact. In May 2017, the owners of the Garden Motel submitted a proposal for a four-story, 90-room hotel to be built on their site. That project was approved by the Planning Commission in October 2017, and in 2018 demolition and building permits were filed for, but never granted. Then, in 2018 a new version of the project was submitted to the city, this time with five stories and 112 guest rooms. That version was again approved by the Planning Commission, in March of 2019. A new building permit to do something with the underground gas connection to the property (to upgrade it with sufficient capacity for the proposed 112-room hotel, I’m guessing) was filed for and quickly issued, but that’s it — there have been no other permits applied for or issued that I can see, and no visible demolition or construction activity has occurred. Of course, COVID-19 hit soon after, so perhaps the property owners decided to wait and see how things went before committing to construction of the project.

That brings us to last week, when a third new application for a multi-story hotel on the site was submitted to the city for review and approval. This latest submission consists of the very same plans that were approved back in 2019, apparently just with some minor tweaks to accommodate changes in the building code. But what is being proposed now is what was proposed and approved back then: five stories and 112 “full service guest rooms.” The hotel rooms will be on the upper four floors, with the ground floor consisting of the hotel’s lobby (on the Broadway end of the building) and its 90-space parking garage. Note that in order to squeeze 90 cars (and 12 bicycles and 3 motorcycles) into the 16,000 square feet allotted to the garage, there will be both mechanical parking stackers and valet service.

The resulting hotel, which will apparently be a Holiday Inn Express & Suites, should look something like this:

This project lies close to, but not actually within, Redwood City’s Downtown Precise Plan (DTPP) area. Back when Redwood City put the DTPP together, city leaders set a limit of 200 net new rooms of lodging within the DTPP area. Since then, not a single one has been constructed. There are only two hotels within the DTPP area, in fact, and one is the Sequoia Hotel, which is currently not really a proper hotel at all, but instead seems to be a form of transient housing. The owners of that property hope to change that, though: they’ve submitted a proposal to turn the classic building at the corner of Broadway and Main Street into a proper 82-room hotel. So far, though, their application to the city is marked as incomplete. (For some idea of what the hotel owners have in mind, see their webpage.)

As for the other hotel that actually sits within the city’s DTPP area, that one until very recently was known as the Euro Hotel (and, before that, the Pacific Euro Hotel). The Euro Hotel was designed along the lines of what you commonly find in Europe when looking for reasonably priced rooms: very basic, but clean rooms that in some cases relied on shared bathroom facilities, as you might find in a hostel. This hotel was recently remodeled, though, and now it appears that all of the rooms have dedicated bathrooms. It is at least managed, and possibly owned, by a San Francisco-based firm called Kasa who is taking a fairly high-tech approach to hotels. Their hotels don’t even have a front desk; you instead use your cellphone to check in and obtain a code by which you gain entry to the hotel and to your room. If you need help, you again turn to your phone and access their “virtual front desk.”

This new incarnation of the hotel located at 868 Main Street is now called the Niche Hotel. It sports rooms with King, Queen, or Full beds. The rooms still seem small, but they do appear to have a pretty complete set of amenities, including flat-screen televisions, WiFi, and in-room fridges, coffeemakers, and safes. The bathrooms, although small, appear to use high-end materials and designs, so I expect that guests will be quite comfortable. Whether you are visiting for business or for pleasure, the Niche Hotel in Redwood City seems well worth investigating.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t provide an update on the other hotel project proposed for just outside the DTPP area: the proposal to replace the Shell service station at the corner of Veterans Boulevard and Brewster Avenue with a four-story, 91-room hotel. That project was proposed in early 2019, and approved in late 2020. Until recently there has been no activity on this project, but in February of this year a building permit to replace the service station with the hotel was applied for. That permit is still under review and has not yet been issued, but the fact that the application was submitted is a big step towards making the project happen. That particular hotel would be especially well-located for those coming to do business with the county: it would be located just across the street from San Mateo County’s large complex of buildings. And of course that places it just a few easy blocks walk from the heart of downtown Redwood City, so although this project, like the newly re-proposed Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hotel on Broadway, wouldn’t actually sit within the DTPP area, it would certainly be close enough.

Moving on from hotel news, although actual construction of the county’s Navigation Center east of Highway 101 has yet to get underway (it will, though, very soon), there are signs of preparatory work taking place between that property and the one that will host the 1548 Maple Street townhouse complex project. The portion of Maple Street between the two has been abandoned, as I’ve noted previously, but now there are some cylindrical concrete pieces standing along where the street used to be that appear to be the vertical shafts that lie beneath manhole covers. And there is a temporary pipe running alongside the county parcel that may be draining water from their site. These things are new since I was last there, so work on one or both projects is continuing…

Work on the mostly wooden “County Office Building #3” (they really need to give this thing a catchier name) on Marshall Street continues apace. Not only has the building gained a fourth story (one more to go), but note what appears to be a concrete facade on the building’s Middlefield Road face on the ground floor (along the right side):

And just across Marshall Street from this project an alert reader let me know that a sign appears ready for unveiling next to the Lathrop House. They and I are both guessing that this sign will trumpet the upcoming project to build a carriage museum on the small parking lot adjacent to the house.

Unfortunately, the fabric covering the sign is pretty securely fastened down, so I couldn’t peek beneath. But we should know what the sign says soon enough.

I also wanted to mention that the county’s new “Radio Shop” (where they will install and service radios in county vehicles and such) along Chestnut Street is nearly done. Certainly, the building itself appears complete, at least from the outside:

(See my post Tuning in to the County for a bit more on this project.)

Finally, at long last the City Council appears poised to award a construction contract for the Hopkins Avenue Traffic Calming Project, so those of you who regularly take Hopkins Avenue won’t have to look at the temporary islands and sidewalk bulb-outs much longer. Be prepared for construction activity, though: you may want to (or have to) start taking alternate streets such as Whipple or Brewster avenues for a while.

Note that this project “also includes spot repairs and a pavement overlay on Hopkins Avenue between El Camino Real and Upland Road,” so there will be some construction west of Alameda de las Pulgas. According to the city, construction should begin late next month (in May) and run through and slightly beyond the end of the year.

The Hopkins Avenue contract is expected to be awarded at next Monday’s City Council meeting (on April 25). Along with it, the city also will likely approve a complex measure that gives the green light to a number of components of the large ELCO Yards project that has involved the recent demolition of a number of buildings along El Camino Real, Lathrop Street, and Main Street. Among the things that the city will be authorizing are the sale of the small apartment building at the corner of Main and Beech streets, after which that building will be torn down (the affordable housing once provided by that building will be compensated for in the ELCO Yards project). As well, the city will also be authorizing the sale of the “Shasta Triangle”: the little triangular parcel bounded by Chestnut, Shasta, and Main streets. That triangle, and the tiny bit of Shasta Street that runs alongside it, will be absorbed into the adjacent property where the Perry Feeds shed stood until recently. Shasta Street will thus end at Chestnut Street, and no longer merge into Main Street as it does today. Given the many close calls (and at least one collision) I’ve witnessed in this area, I count this particular move as a very good thing.


The latest Redwood City eNews includes a couple of items worth highlighting:

  • The waiting list is open for the 125-unit affordable apartment building still under construction at 353 Main Street. If you or anyone you know might be interested and eligible to lease one of the buildings studio, 1-bedroom, or 2-bedroom units (there are income limits based on household size, and other restrictions may apply; as well, preference will be given to families who live, work, or are hired to work in San Mateo County), information can be found here. Interested parties can add themselves to the waiting list at www.mysmchousing.com through May 9, 2022, at 5 p.m.
  • The city is once again looking for interested residents who might like to serve on one of the city’s boards, commissions, or committees. Recruitment has been extended through May 22, 2022. If you are someone who has strong opinions about how the city is being run, this is a terrific opportunity to actually make a difference. Go to the Advisory Bodies and Committees page on the city’s website for information about the roles and responsibilities of each body. To find out how many applicants are needed for what terms on which bodies, and to apply, head to the Advisory Boards, Commissions, and Committees Recruitment page.
  • Not in the eNews, but important nevertheless, the city wants to hear from us about how interested we are in a residential recycled water fill station program. If it is anything like the program in the past, residents will be allowed to obtain large quantities of recycled water, for free, for use in irrigating their yards. My wife and I took advantage of this program in the past, and it really helped us to save water. (I wrote about my experience back in 2015, in my post To Fetch a Pail of Water; check it out if you want to know more about what the city has done in the past.) If you have any interest in a program that potentially can provide you with free (it does appear that a “small fee” might be applied to participants’ water bills) recycled water for use on your landscaping, I urge you to take the very short survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/recycledwaterstation. Note that you’ll need the account number from your Redwood City utility bill. Oh, and taking the survey indicates your level of interest, but doesn’t actually commit you to anything. We need a sufficient amount of interest for the program to go forward, and given that we are facing a serious drought, we really need that to happen.

10 thoughts on “Checking Out

  1. Yes, Greg, the sign is part of an invitation only “unveiling” ceremony we are holding on April 27 at 11 am to unveil the Carriage House project. All donors and City and County people as well as media have been invited to this ceremony. A larger, public groundbreaking ceremony will take place later this year. The approximately 15,000 s.f. Carriage House will have 3 floors. The first floor will feature a private car collection. The second floor will be a display of the history museum’s Brewster carriages (from the FILOLI estate) which have been in a warehouse for several years. The top floor will be a venue that seats 200 people and will be available for rent for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, corporate events, employee appreciation events, etc. Please consider this your invitation to stop by the unveiling ceremony.
    Dee

  2. I wish San Mateo County offered better documentation and access for proposed projects within their jurisdiction; similar to Redwood City or Menlo Park’s development websites. I know the county has a few projects listed on their website but it seems to only show a small portion of what’s been proposed.

    As a resident I’m looking forward to having a few more hotel options near downtown. Historically there hasn’t been a ton of choices for friends and family to stay when they’re in town. I’m not particularly bothered by the loss of a gas station. Most new construction, including the hotel proposal on veterans, have EV charging stations if you really wanted to make a faff about it.

  3. So the city is willing to get rid of a service used by Redwood City residents (the Shell station) to bring in people who don’t live here. I think that says quite a bit about the people in charge.

  4. Regarding the recycled water, for those of us who do not own a truck to transport a filled 150 gallon collapsable vessel are there any viable means of transporting a large amount of water? Seems like a big logistics problem. Appreciate any ideas.

    • My wife and I had to take a very short (free) class put on by the city that explained how the water could and could not be used. The “instructor” also talked about the mechanics of getting the water, and they had suggestions about transporting it. I came up with the bladder idea on my own; others were using a variety of containers. Some had IBC Tote Tanks – large cubical plastic containers enclosed within a metal frame – but those that I saw were in the backs of pickup trucks (they may also fit into SUVs). I opted for the bladder because it was smaller, cheaper, and easy to store when not in use. Something like a rain barrel would probably work.

      In any case, you have hit on the key challenge: figuring out how to safely and easily transport the water. You might want to spend a bit of time at OSH or Home Depot and/or searching the internet for solutions. If you come up with something that works for you, please let us all know…

    • Thanks for the confirmation. From what I’ve heard, it should be a nice space, and a great new asset to the community. More than just a “carriage museum” (which is interesting in and of itself) I believe that it will also be usable as an event space. I’m looking forward to seeing the final design.

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