As another year draws to a close, it’s time for another “year in review.” 2022 was quite a year for Redwood City, which is either a good or bad thing, depending upon your point of view. In any case, it was another year chock full of development activity. Plus, we saw a lot of coming and going when it comes to restaurants and retailers. And it was a year in which the city took steps towards ensuring that we have an adequate supply of water — something I’m sure we can all get behind.
Putting this column together is relatively simple: I went through all of the blog posts and Daily Journal columns I wrote throughout the year, and created a list of the highlights from each one, organized by month. In doing so, I should note that just because I wrote about something in, say, March, doesn’t mean that it occurred in March; it may have occurred somewhat earlier. But that should be close enough to give you an idea of what went on in Redwood City this year. Oh, and because I don’t write about certain subjects, don’t expect this list to be exhaustive. Just be thankful that it isn’t longer than it already is…
At the beginning of the year, the county’s Navigation Center site was being raised to account for sea level rise. Towne Ford, which had to make way for the beginning of the ELCO Yards project, moved out to the Boardwalk Auto Mall. The nearby office project at 1180 Main St. was, from the outside, looking pretty complete: the large “steps” on the northwest side of the building were in place, and the stand-alone “coffee hut” had been installed. Work, however, continued on fitting out the building’s interior (and, in fact, it continues even today…).
Demolition having been completed the prior year, January saw the site of the Veterans Memorial/Senior Center building being graded in preparation for utility and foundation work. Over on Woodside Road, the Hallmark House apartment building wrapped up and began leasing, while the 125-unit affordable apartment project being built at 353 Main Street stood fully framed and was about to get its exterior skin.
January is the month when the city declared a Stage 2 Water Shortage Emergency (with plans for an overall reduction in water use throughout the city by 20%). It also began work on redistricting, in anticipation of the City Council elections that would take place later in the year. The city approved the 16-room expansion of Gordon Manor (on Gordon Street), and received a proposal for a 95-unit housing project to be built at 590 Veterans Blvd.
In February, Hopkins Acura joined Towne Ford out at the Boardwalk Auto Mall. Much of the ELCO Yards project site received construction fencing, and power to many of the buildings on the six-block site began being disconnected.
Work continued on the office building going up at 1390 Woodside Rd., on the new CVS Pharmacy at Woodside and Bay roads, on the 10-unit townhouse development at 211 Vera Ave., and on the five side-by-side duplexes being built at 112 Vera Ave. The proposed “Redwood City Discovery” project (on El Camino Real, where The Record Man is today) received a new design, and the city received an all-new proposal for an office project at 2201 Bay Rd.
Out in the Port, the city accepted a business plan for the Redwood City Ferry Project. And in February Pioneer Seafoods stopped selling fish from their boat. (The associated food truck continues to operate out there, though, and we soon should be getting a new fishing boat retailer.)
Although it wasn’t quite complete (it is, now), the city held its ribbon-cutting for the Middlefield Streetscape Improvement project in February. Also this month, the Black History Museum made a temporary home in the empty Cost Plus space, across from City Hall.
March saw the county’s “County Office Building #3”, or COB-3, on Marshall Street making great progress. Concrete was being pumped for the Veterans Memorial/Senior Center building’s foundations, and the Habitat for Humanity project on Jefferson Street was getting insulation blown into the walls. A website was put up for the affordable apartment building project at 353 Main St., and prospective tenants were invited to add their names to an online waiting list. A new TJ Homes project was proposed for a site on Hillview Avenue, while updated plans were submitted for the large office/residential/retail project that had been proposed for the Wells Fargo Bank site at Broadway and Main Street. Out east of the freeway, the section of Maple Street between the county’s Navigation Center site and the condominium project at 1548 Maple St. was abandoned, and absorbed into the condominium project parcel.
In March, the city held a workshop to help design the downtown park project. A new speaker series was held at the Fox Theatre, while nearby Aili Ice Designs (re)opened for business along Broadway. Also, we got word that Sushirrito would soon be opening in the former Oyster Boy restaurant space. Finally, after a fire at one of the homeless encampments near the intersection of El Camino Real and Woodside Road, all of the encampments in the area were cleared.
In April, the city approved applications for four cannabis retail outlets, made the temporary parklet program (which allowed restaurants to spill out onto the sidewalks and into the streets) semi-permanent, awarded a contract to O’Grady Paving for the Hopkins Avenue Traffic Calming Project, approved a townhouse project for 1301 Woodside Rd., and selected the artist for the upcoming Racial Equity Mural to be painted along Jefferson Avenue beneath the railroad tracks.
On the development front, demolition of buildings on the ELCO Yards property continued, the project to transform the Maguire Correctional Facility into the new Sheriff’s Office Headquarters got underway, the county held its official groundbreaking for the Navigation Center project, and the county’s Radio Shop on Chestnut Street wrapped up. The small office building at 55 Perry St. was leased, and the hotel project planned for the Shell gas station site at Veterans Blvd. and Brewster Ave. filed for its building permit.
Business-wise, the Euro Hotel (on Main Street) became the “Niche Hotel by Kasa.” Portobello Grill closed, Happy Lemon replaced Yoppi Yogurt, and Red Giant Coffee was replaced by Tong Sui.
April was also the month when the Taube Family Carriage House & Automobile Museum project, planned for the small parking lot at Marshall Street and Middlefield Road, was unveiled.
May was a busy month. That was the month when we lost Warung Siska, but when we learned that the now-empty Mobius Fit building on Woodside Road (Mobius Fit having moved downtown) would become a Safari Kid preschool. That month we also gained a couple of new small retailers on El Camino Real, just across from BevMo.
Construction trailers appeared on the ELCO Yards project site, and the former Towne Ford buildings were reduced to rubble. Construction fencing went up around the Garden Motel (plans call for a new 91-unit hotel on the site), and the Hopkins Avenue project got underway. The 39-unit affordable apartment building planned for 1304 El Camino Real began rising from the earth, while over on Bay Road new sidewalks and street lamps were installed alongside the CVS Pharmacy site. Both the county Navigation Center and the adjacent extension to Blomquist Street were well underway by May, and not too far away I watched as the Kaiser Tower building began the slow process of being torn down.
In May, the city approved both the 72-unit apartment project proposed for 150 Charter St. (next to Target) and the seven-unit townhouse project planned for 31 Center St. Also that month, two new project were submitted to the city: a small office/lab building for 1200 Marsh Rd., and a five-story life-sciences building to replace two small buildings currently located at 1 Twin Dolphin Dr.
In June, some recently completed projects bore fruit: 855 Main St. gained three tenants, while 929 Main St. gained two. Plus, “Little Green – A Plant Bar” opened in 1101 Main St.
The city approved its “Walk Bike Thrive Plan,” and adopted an anti-displacement strategy, with the aim of keeping people from losing their homes. Speaking of affordable homes, the Comfort Inn at 1818 El Camino Real, which the county had purchased using Project Homekey funds, was being turned into affordable housing in June. That work was being done by Alta Housing, who is managing the 51-room affordable rental building, now dubbed “Casa Esperanza.”
That month, both the roller rink building and the adjacent self-serve carwash were completely torn down, making way for another part of the ELCO Yards project. Over on Marshall Street, the COB-3 structure — made largely from wood — was completed.
July was another good month for new retailers: both Redwood Barber Co. and Whearley & Co. opened on Main Street, Ghostwood made their (future) presence known on that same street, and Humphry Slocombe (ice cream) opened on Broadway. Plus, July is the month when the Bird electric scooters finally appeared on our downtown sidewalks.
On the development front, the upper floors of the apartment building at 1304 El Camino Real were being framed, and lots of digging was taking place on the nearby ELCO Yards project site. Over on Hopkins Avenue, there was much visible activity on the Traffic Calming project. And down on Bay Road, near Fifth Avenue, the Nazareth Ice Oasis building was being gutted, on its way to becoming life science lab space.
Yet another project along Twin Dolphin Drive — this one at 10 Twin Dolphin — was proposed. Also this month, the city publicly reviewed the Harbor View project’s community benefits package (Harbor View being the giant office project proposed for the old Malibu Grand Prix/Malibu Golf & Games sites).
August saw the beginning of election season, with a number of openings on the City Council and at least one new opening on Redwood City’s Planning Commission. Caltrans — it is their property — installed hundreds (thousands?) of large rocks all over the open land at the intersection of El Camino Real and Woodside Road, in an effort to prevent homeless encampments from being re-erected there. Also, Redwood City made permanent most of its “slow streets” signage, and began installing speed humps on parts of Hazel Street, Oak Avenue, Canyon Road, Hudson Avenue, Edgewood Road.
By August, the Veterans Memorial/Senior Center building was fully framed, while the county’s COB-3 building began getting its outer skin (a mix of metal, glass, and stone). The large new classroom/office building on the Orion Alternative School campus (formerly John Gill) was completed. Work was well underway on constructing some of the underground garages for the ELCO Yards project, and the walls were going up at the new CVS Pharmacy building on Bay Road. Finally, August is when we learned that the old Kmart building was being turned into a new home for the robotics company Dexterity.
Work on the city’s many projects continued in September. Highlights for the month included a new draft of the city’s Housing Element, the winding down of the city’s seemingly very successful temporary RV Safe Parking Program (although it was extended a bit for the few remaining residents), and an update — which takes effect at the beginning of 2023 (watch out for it!) — to the city’s downtown parking plan.
A new version was submitted for the massive Redwood LIFE project proposal (in Redwood Shores), and an updated design appeared for the office/residential project proposed for 750 Bradford St. Finally, the city received a proposal for an affordable housing project to be built at 1304 Middlefield Rd. — the site of the yearly “Bethlehem A.D.” walk-through recreation.
The circus was back in October, and a lot of people seem to really enjoy it (including me). This is the month when two separate gun shops were proposed for Redwood City — upon which the city immediately imposed a temporary moratorium on firearms retailers to give the city time to consider the ins and outs. Less controversially, we learned that Mazra — a well-regarded Mediterranean restaurant in San Bruno — will be opening a second store on Broadway in Redwood City, and that a new hair/beauty salon would be opening in the old Lovejoy’s Tea Room space. Plus, “Lavender ’n Cream,” a patisserie, opened in the Marsh Manor shopping center.
Habitat for Humanity wrapped up their Jefferson Avenue housing project in October, and the city received a new design for the proposed office/teen center project at 901 El Camino Real. Plus the city finally received an official proposal for a 409-unit apartment complex to be built in place of the Veterans Square strip center.
Lastly, the city authorized the Port of Redwood City to proceed with planning, design, and permitting for a ferry terminal, and it instituted new “reach codes” aiming to reduce reliance on natural gas in new construction.
With the new CVS Pharmacy project making great strides, the associated Broadway Plaza project — offices, residential, and retail on the site of the old shopping center at Broadway and Woodside Road — started to show some signs of activity. As did the seven-unit townhouse project at 31 Center St. The 10-unit townhouse project at 211 Vera Ave. wrapped up in November and began leasing, while the large affordable apartment building at 353 Main St. began leasing — although that building was not (and, I believe, still isn’t) quite complete.
November was a big month for approvals: the city not only approved the creation of a new Transit District (which will likely result in an all-new Sequoia Station development, plus a new, relocated transit center in our future), it also approved the three-building, 765,000-square-foot (total) Harbor View office project to be built along Blomquist Street between Seaport Boulevard and the Maple Street Correctional Center. The city also approved a small R&D (research and development) office project for 2966 Bay Rd.
Planet Fitness opened in November, in the old Big 5 space next to Kohl’s. And the city received a major grant in service of its “Parking Lot to Parks” project (the future three-phase downtown park that will begin with its first phase being built adjacent to the downtown public library).
December was an exciting month, and not only because we got a healthy dose of rain. The county’s Navigation Center project really started to take shape, as the first residential modules were put into place. Nearby, the extension to Blomquist Street received curbs, sidewalks, and, finally, asphalt. Nearby, the 131-unit townhouse project underway at 1548 Maple St. was abuzz with activity: although the condos are not yet under construction, all of the infrastructure — streets, utilities, etc. — now seems to be in place.
Following last month’s approval by the City Council of the large Harbor View project, in December the Planing Commission approved the large housing project that has long been in the works for the old Century Theaters 12 site east of Highway 101. Over on the ELCO Yards site, the two buildings that had still been standing were demolished in December. Similarly, the old veterinary office building on Woodside Road, where an eight-unit townhouse development is to be constructed, was torn down; the developer is now waiting for their building permits. As is the developer of the 72-unit apartment project planned for the site next to Target; once those permits are issued, I expect the Mi Rancho market that stands there today will quickly disappear.
The Planning Commission also passed on to the City Council their recommendation for the Record Man project (a 130-unit apartment building replacing The Record Man, the Cycle Gear store, and Happy Donuts): that project will go before the council early in 2023. Speaking of Cycle Gear, presumably in anticipation of this project they’ve already moved, to 2426 El Camino Real, the site of a former mattress store.
Stanford ran a proposal for their latest addition to their Medical Campus by the city’s Architectural Advisory Committee in December. That same month the city’s Historic Resources Advisory Committee opined on the old house standing at the rear of the American Legion Post 105 property (the post hopes to replace both that house and their current meeting hall with an eight-story, 300-unit apartment building containing an embedded meeting hall). And the city received updated plans for the proposed office project at 1201 Main St.
Lastly, December saw the final performance of Bethlehem A.D. (presumably, in anticipation of the city accepting their affordable housing proposal for the site). And squeaking in just under the wire — on December 23rd — “State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria” opened in Marsh Manor.
Throughout the Year
Early in this post I mentioned that the city took steps towards ensuring that we have an adequate supply of water in 2022. One big way it did so is through the extension of the city’s recycled water distribution pipelines. At the beginning of the year, our “purple pipes” ran parallel to the freeway along the east side of Highway 101, and on the west side extended to both the Kaiser Medical campus and to Stanford’s medical and non-academic campuses in Redwood City. Throughout 2022, the pipes were run to both the 1548 Maple Street project (131 townhouse-style condominiums) and the county’s Navigation Center site. On the west side, they were extended to the Broadway Plaza project (at Broadway and Woodside Road) and all the way out to El Camino Real near Cedar Street, in order to service the massive ELCO Yards development. Finally, in August the city chipped in money for a joint study (in partnership with the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, the city of San Mateo, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and others) to investigate the feasibility of further filtering our recycled water so as to make it potable. Together these efforts, if carried through to completion, will not only significantly reduce the amount of drinkable water used by the largest of the city’s new projects, but will also increase our supply of potable water. These project will take years to pay off, but 2022 is when they really got going, and the city deserves a lot of credit for that.
Sorry for the length of this post: as you can see, Redwood City continues to morph and grow in all sorts of ways. And, clearly, it shows no signs of stopping: I expect 2023 to be as busy, if not busier than, 2022. Which will, if nothing else, continue to give me plenty to write about…
Happy New Year, everyone!