Bay Day

As I write this, the sun is out and everything appears to be drying rather nicely. Although, while driving our regular Meals on Wheels route, my wife and I got onto Highway 101 northbound at Whipple Avenue and noticed that Inner Bair Island was almost entirely under water: only the walking paths, which are elevated somewhat above the rest of the island, were clear. We apparently went by close to high tide, at a time when the Bay Area is also experiencing some king tides, so the water levels were about as high as you’ll ever see them. Unfortunately, I was driving and didn’t have my good camera, so I wasn’t able to get any photos of the bay then. However, we plan to go back this weekend at high tide to experience the paths completely surrounded by water, and to get some photographs for possible inclusion in next week’s post. For anyone interested in also experiencing these somewhat rare conditions, on Saturday (the 21st) the highest of the two tides should be at 10:20 a.m., and on Sunday it’ll occur at 11:13 a.m. There will also be one on Monday (12:05 p.m.) but the level that day won’t be quite as high as over the weekend.

I do hope everyone reading this made it through our weeks of rain relatively unscathed, and is now enjoying our sunny (but cold: it is winter, after all) days. I know I am, and I’m looking forward to next week, when I can finally go out walking without first having to check the weather forecast. This week my options were somewhat limited, but I did spend some time exploring Redwood City, checking up on some parts I don’t get to as often. In particular, I spent some time on Bay Road. But rather than looking at the usual suspects — the Broadway Plaza project (which sits between Bay Road and Broadway) and its associated new CVS Pharmacy building (at 2111 Bay Rd.), I instead spent a little time poking around two project sites further to the south.

First, I went by the site at the corner of Bay Road and 2nd Avenue, for which the Redwood City Planning Commission recently approved a project to construct a relatively small (30,765 square feet) three-story office building. If you’ve driven by the site, you may know it primarily as the location of Hacienda Taqueria:

As you can probably tell, this taqueria sits right on the corner. The project site also includes an additional parcel along Bay Road, the one immediately adjacent to the taqueria site. It is, or was, an auto shop called “Pro Tires”:

There is actually a third bit of land — a vacant lot adjacent to the taqueria along 2nd Avenue — that will be combined with the other two properties to make up a parcel a bit under 36,000 square feet in size.

As for the residents of the two existing buildings, the minutes of the meeting at which the project was approved noted that Pro Tires is going out of business and the land beneath the building has been sold. And when referring to the taqueria, the minutes go on to state that “they are currently not able to pay their rent and will most likely be shutting the business down shortly.” So this new building apparently won’t be displacing any viable businesses.

I actually wrote about an earlier incarnation of this particular project, back in September of 2021, when it first appeared on the city’s Development Projects website. However, back then the project was substantially smaller, at 14,464 square feet, than what was recently approved (30,765 square feet) even though both buildings were proposed as three story R&D office projects. Given the rather significant change, it seems appropriate to treat what was approved as an all-new project and to introduce it as such.

Here is a rendering of what the developer intends to build, as viewed from roughly the same spot where I took the picture of the taqueria:

And here is a second rendering, showing the building from an aerial perspective:

This second one is instructive because it shows the building’s massing in relationship to the existing buildings that surround the combined parcels. Clearly, it’ll stand out somewhat, at least from this angle. But I should note that this rendering also gives a hint to the building’s location: the grass along the bottom of the photo is from Andrew Spinas Park, and the landscaping along the right edge of the photo is the adjacent Stanford in Redwood City campus — which has a number of buildings that are substantially larger than the one shown here. So in reality, this building will be in good company; it won’t (for now) sit immediately adjacent to any other multi-story buildings, but it will be close enough to the Stanford buildings as to look as if it belongs with them.

From the first rendering, you can see that the building will employ a lot of glass, giving it what I presume will be an open, airy feel. But take a close look at that first rendering, and you’ll see that the glass doesn’t go all the way to the ground. Most of the building’s ground floor will be occupied by its internal parking garage, and thus the walls at that level will be mostly opaque (and, covered in a “living wall”). That close look also reveals that the entrance and exit to the garage are through a single opening on 2nd Avenue, near the left (as portrayed in the rendering) corner of the building. That internal garage will have 55 parking stalls, of which three will be accessible and seven will be equipped for EV charging. There will also be secure storage for a handful of bicycles.

Beyond the garage, the ground floor will contain the building’s relatively small lobby, which will be located at the corner of 2nd and Bay. From within, people will climb (or ride the building’s elevator) to the second floor, where they’ll discover that the building consists mostly of a double-height R&D space, with a third-floor mezzanine only along the 2nd Avenue facade. The second rendering, above, allows you to see the double-height portion of the building facing Bay Road and the two-story office area along 2nd Avenue.

That second floor will be 21,549 square feet in size, whereas the upper mezzanine will be 5,110 square feet.

That’s about it for this building: as you can see, the rooftop is pretty plain, holding only some mechanical equipment in a shielded area near the center of the building’s roof. The remainder is plain and flat, and available for rooftop solar panels (which it appears won’t be installed when the building is first constructed, but could be added later, once the building has an actual tenant).

Moving on, the second project site along Bay Road that I visited this week is the one that used to house the Nazareth Ice Oasis: the parcel at 3140 Bay Rd. Here, the steel structure that housed the ice rink has been mostly preserved, and is being augmented with a great deal of additional steel. That new structure is a bit hard to separate out from the old in the following photograph, but take my word for it: there is a lot of work going on, and a lot of new steel in the structure:

By preserving the original structure, the timeline for this project should be somewhat compressed when compared with an all-new building. Once the new steel is in place, I expect that the outer shell won’t take too long. And because the design calls for a mostly open space (assuming a single tenant; if multiple tenants want to share the building, its interior will have to be divided up), once that shell is on the building will be pretty much done, at least until a tenant (or two) is identified and the building has to be outfitted for their specific needs.

I last wrote about the 3140 Bay Road project in late July (in my post “Upcoming”), so you can refer to either that post or the project’s website for a bit more on what this building will be like when completed. In short, though, the plan is to create a 31,370-square-foot life-sciences lab building that will have clear height open ceilings of 18 to 23 feet.

Finally, although I didn’t visit the site this week — there is nothing new to see — before the news gets too old I wanted to note that another project I wrote rather extensively about back in August 2021 has been drastically downsized and resubmitted to the city for consideration.

In its original form, the Redwood Square project was to be a four-story residential building (with parking on the ground floor and living spaces on the upper three floors) containing sixteen for-sale condominiums, located behind an existing daycare center at 2336 El Camino Real. Now though, the developer is hoping to build a three-story building, still behind the existing daycare center, consisting of six for-sale townhouse-style condominiums and 14 dedicated parking spaces. As with the previous incarnation, this building would be built on the daycare center’s parking lot; it would position the building at the corner of Linden Street and Hemlock Avenue. Enough of the parking lot would be retained as to leave 13 parking spaces for the center’s use.

Here is a rendering of what is now being proposed:

This rendering shows how the building would face onto Linden Street. In the rendering, the street to the right is Hemlock Avenue, which leads out to El Camino Real. Note the driveway entrance at the rear of the building, off Hemlock Avenue.

Each unit would have a two-car garage, with the two vehicles arranged in tandem. Between each pair of townhouses there would be a carport, presumably for visitor parking, adding up to a total of 14 parking spaces. Here is what the building would look like from the rear:

The plans (pdf link here) show each unit as ranging between 2,200 and 2,300 square feet, but that figure includes the unit’s garage was well as its private patio and (for the two end units only) its second and third floor balconies. Subtract those out, and you are left with the largest unit having something less than 1,800 square feet of conditioned living space.

In addition to the garage, the ground floor of each unit will include the unit’s entry foyer, some amount of enclosed storage, and, in just one of the six units, a powder room. From each unit’s foyer, a stairway leads up to the second floor, where you’ll find a living room (towards the back, facing out over the driveway), a combined kitchen/dining space (in the center) and one of the unit’s bedrooms (facing the front) plus a full bathroom. Continuing up the stairs to the third floor you find the master suite (on the front of the building) and the third bedroom (facing the rear) with its own dedicated bathroom.

If these get built, I’ll be very interested in touring them. Mainly because although 1,800 square feet still sounds like a comfortable amount, each unit is laid out in “shotgun style” making them long and narrow. Two of the units are a little under 14 feet wide, while the others are just a bit more than 15 feet wide. Subtract out space for stairwells and hallways (which don’t run the entire length of the unit, to be fair) and some of the spaces can get narrow indeed. Perhaps they won’t feel that way in real life; the proof will be in the pudding, as they say.

I’ll also be very interested to see what these units, if they indeed get approved and then built, end up costing. Perhaps this arrangement makes for an inexpensive build; here’s hoping, given the real need for starter housing in our area. At least the location is fairly good; it’s a very easy walk from this site to Target, which is just across El Camino Real and down about a block. Plus, there is good bus service up and down El Camino Real, and I believe all of those buses go to or from the Redwood City transit center. So commuting from these townhomes without using a car should be very doable.

While out and about I noticed a lot of activity at Redwood City’s larger projects. It seems that once the rains stopped, construction started right back up again. I was particularly interested to see that work on the “phase 1” portion of the Broadway Plaza project — the end towards Chestnut Street where the project’s three residential buildings will eventually be located — is now moving full steam ahead. Next week I plan to spend some time at that site and others, and unless something even more interesting comes up, I’ll report back on what I find.

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