Assembly Required

I continue to be fascinated by the county’s Navigation Center project. I watched as the site was raised up and then prepared for construction, watched as the two larger buildings were constructed using conventional techniques, and then excitedly watched as the residential modules, and a handful of support modules, were craned into place. I’ve been waiting for the decking that connects and provides access to the second- and third-story modules was put into place, along with the stairwells, and that wait was finally satisfied this week: pretty much all of those pieces have now been added. What I had forgotten about, though, are the two elevators that provide access to the upper floors of the two three-story “stacks.” In a normal project, those elevators would have been installed early on, with the buildings constructed around them. But not so with this project. Indeed, the elevators seem to have been the two final pieces of the project to be put in place. And in keeping with the way that the rest of this project has gone together, each elevator tower was apparently pre-assembled and simply craned into place:

Although I didn’t get to actually see the elevator structures trucked to the site and then craned into position, as you can see I did manage to get there just after the first of the two elevators was set on its foundation. During my visit, it appears that the first of the two elevator shafts was being fastened to the walkways that connect the side-by-side three-story stacks. Until it was, the crane kept a firm hold on the tall tower.

I took the above picture when I visited the site on Tuesday. I went back on Friday, and noted that the second elevator had similarly been installed:

With both elevators in place, there is no longer any sign of the crane that was used to install them — and no sign of the crane that was used to place the various modules that make up this center. From that I conclude that all of the major pieces of the Navigation Center are now in place, and that only finishing work remains.

As you can see, the elevators either need to have an exterior finish of some sort applied, or they simply need to be unwrapped: I cannot tell if that green covering is simply a protective layer that will be removed to reveal the exterior of the elevator towers, or if it is a waterproof seal that will be covered over with metal, stucco, or some sort of exterior finish. Either way, they will surely blend in a lot better than they currently do.

Before leaving the subject of elevators, note that the two-story central stack of residences does not have an elevator connected to it. Unless there will be some sort of bridge from that left-hand stack of residential units, enabling folks to take the left-hand elevator to the second floor and then make their way over the bridge to that central stack, the small number of upper floor units in that two-story stack may simply be inaccessible to those who cannot manage stairs. Given that we are only talking about a dozen or so residences, this may be allowable, since all of the other residential units should be fully accessible thanks to those elevators.

As for the walkways and stairways that will connect and provide access to the residential units, those appear to be pretty much all in place, although some of the safety railings are still being installed. As well, the walkways and stairways currently seem to be bare metal. They, too, will likely receive some sort of paint layer or something before the Navigation Center is open for use.

Note that in the above photo the safety railings are still just bare metal frames; they have yet to have their mesh panels installed. Work on this seems to have started on the eastern side of the project, and hasn’t yet gotten to the block of buildings shown above (which are on the western side). Here is what things look like on the eastern side, as viewed from Maple Street:

Thanks to reader Erika, we now know that the expected move-in date — which was supposed to be right about now — has been pushed off about a month, likely due to weather-related delays. So expect a couple of more weeks of construction activity before we can turn our attention to the old LifeMoves Maple Street Shelter at the end of Maple Street, and watch it get torn down.

While I was in the area on Tuesday, I took this picture of the city-owned parcel at the corner of Maple and Blomquist streets, where until recently the city had its safe parking lot for RV residents:

That lot has served its purpose; most of the residents have either found or been placed into more conventional housing, or have moved on. A handful, it seems, are due to move into the Navigation Center, but due to the project delays the city has had to find somewhere for those folks to park their RVs until the center is ready for occupancy. I suspect that at least some, if not all, of those folks are now to be found behind the LifeMoves shelter:

Across the water, on Main Street, the 125-unit affordable housing project at 353 Main Street is clearly in its final stages: I watched as soil was being added to the planters that will help bring a bit of nature to the third-story residents-only outdoor space:

This outdoor area is located atop the building’s two-story parking garage, and is slated to have an outdoor kitchen, seating, a “spool” (a blend of “spa” and “pool” that will be 12 feet long and 9 feet wide), an outdoor fireplace, and a water feature in addition to planters containing a number of trees and plants. There will also be a small “community terrace” on the Main Street end of the building, on the same level. Plus, it appears that there will be a small rooftop deck on the Main Street end of the building, which is one level shorter than the Redwood Creek end.

On Friday I spent some time circling the ELCO Yards project on foot. On the largest of the project’s parcels, where the tower crane and the large mobile crane are both in use, the large two-level underground garage has mostly been dug out. A pile of dirt remains in the center, as does a dirt ramp (against the far wall of the pit) that enables construction vehicles to enter and exit the huge hole:

This hole, at least, is drier than the one over on Parcel B (out on El Camino Real, just across Cedar Street from the BevMo parking lot). That hole is deeper, since the subterranean parking garage beneath that particular building will be three levels, not two. While I was there, I observed water pouring out of two holes in the forms that will be used to construct the concrete garage walls:

As you might expect, pumps were running to help drain this large excavation, which is by no means intended to be a swimming pool. It, too, sports a large ramp to provide access to equipment such as the backhoe that, while I was watching, was moving the contents of the remaining pile of dirt around:

Finally, I want to put a cap on the office building at 1180 Main Street. This place:

I find it kind of funny that this triangular office building has an address of 1180 Main, even though its most prominent entrance (shown above) faces onto the intersection of Maple and Lathrop streets. The parcel is five-sided (it looks a bit like home plate on a baseball diamond) with the other three sides being the Caltrain tracks, Elm Street, and, yes, Main Street. The building does have a door at the corner of Main and Elm streets, so perhaps that’ll be the actual primary entrance to the building:

(The above is an older photo, taken while the building was still under construction.)

Wherever the entrance is, at long last all of the construction fences are down, and the building appears to be occupied. I’ve been led to believe that the building had been fully pre-leased by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and I’ve seen no signs to contradict that. Indeed, there are no signs that I can find on the building indicating just who is inside. I did spend some time poking around the building and although I didn’t see any signs with corporate names or logos, I did see this:

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen these neon signs before, and that they were in the secondary lobby of 601 Marshall Street that the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative temporarily leased prior to their occupying the upper three floors of the building at 2075 Broadway (the brick building at the corner of Broadway and Jefferson Avenue). This isn’t definitive proof — I could be remembering incorrectly — but I’m taking it as a strong sign. If it is true that they’ve occupied 1180 Main Street, I do wonder if they have expanded, and thus now have two offices in Redwood City, or whether they’ve moved from the Broadway offices into this much larger space. Whichever it is, though, I’m glad that they still have a major presence here in Redwood City.

While checking out the building, I paid a visit to the coffee hut at the corner of Elm and Lathrop streets. Unfortunately, it was closed:

I’ll be keeping an eye on this place; even though I don’t actually drink coffee, it would be a nice spot to take a break on my walks, particularly when monitoring the progress of the ELCO Yards project, which adjoins this building on two sides (across Elm Street, and across Lathrop Street).

If you do go over to check the 1180 Main Street building out, note that the walkway between the building and the Caltrain tracks is now fully open:

I walked the length of it just because I could.

Also be sure to enjoy all of the interesting seating that surrounds this building. In addition to the benches by the coffee hut, there is a neat cluster of benches by the Lathrop Street entrance, and then there are the rather unusual benches on the stairs that form the Maple Street end:

They’re very cool. The view from there isn’t exactly fabulous — you are looking out at where the Caltrain tracks cross Maple Street, and where Redwood Creek makes its way beneath the tracks — but its a fun place for trainspotting, and of course at the right time of day, as you can see in the above photo, it can be a cool, shady spot to take a short break.

For the record, 1180 Main Street was proposed in late 2017, was approved by the city on July 30, 2019, and started construction in October 2019. Thus, it took more than three years to complete this office building, which has about 106,000 square feet of office space on three floors atop a two-level underground parking garage (that you enter from Elm Street). The lot, as I noted earlier, is shaped like a pentagon, but the building is almost perfectly triangular; Redwood Creek slices through the property, leaving a large triangular section that is almost entirely consumed by this pretty attractive building. A bridge running from the intersection of Maple and Lathrop streets to the building’s western entrance crosses over the concrete channel that houses the creek in this part of the city; from that bridge the public can monitor the levels of that creek (which have been rather high of late, thanks to our recent weather).

I’m delighted that this long-empty lot has finally been developed. Together with the surrounding ELCO Yards buildings that will appear over the next couple of years, this part of Redwood City will have been assembled into a vibrant, modern place to both work and live from a collection of buildings that saw a wide variety of uses. Hopefully all of the disruption caused by these massive construction projects — which includes the lane closed on El Camino Real right now — will have been worth it.

10 thoughts on “Assembly Required

  1. Pingback: They Just Keep Coming | Walking Redwood City

  2. The excavation of the ELCO Yards underground parking garage reminds me of the children’s story “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel”. Good to see they didn’t forget the dirt ramp 🙂

  3. 1180 Main is indeed CZI! Speaking as a CZI alum. The neon signs are a nod to the large DEI initiative, that were indeed in 601 Marshall as well.

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