About Greg Wilson

A software engineer/Mobile app development evangelist/Technical writer who enjoys books, Disneyland, and the slow pace and backyard vistas you only get when traveling by train.

Beginnings

Before I get into the three projects that I want to talk about this week, just when did Evernote move their headquarters? Somehow I missed that. I’m pleased to note that, unlike some tech companies, they haven’t moved to Texas. In fact, they remain right here in Redwood City. But their headquarters space has downsized quite a bit. They used to occupy the entirety of this building, at 305 Walnut St. (right up against the freeway):

Now, though, you’ll find their corporate headquarters in the heart of downtown Redwood City, at 2400 Broadway:

Note the sign marking their new location (they are upstairs; the corner downstairs space, which years ago was home to Brick Monkey, has yet to be leased). Also note that their green elephant logo has been removed from their Walnut Street location.

Evernote has a number of remote offices these days; in addition to their Redwood City headquarters, they have offices in San Diego; Austin, TX; Bothell, WA; Beijing, China; New Delhi, India; Tokyo, Japan; and Zurich, Switzerland. I’m also guessing that a number of their engineers now work remotely, possibly from home. That would explain the downsizing; I assume that many of their engineers used to work in that Walnut Street building.

As yet, the building on Walnut Street does not appear to have a “for lease” sign on it, so I don’t know if Evernote continues to use it for anything. I saw lights on inside when I was there, but noted only one car in the parking lot (they have a parking garage, as you can probably see, but that garage seemed to have cones blocking the entrance, so I’m guessing that there were no cars in there). Perhaps they are stuck with a long lease, and are trying to sublet the building.

On Wednesday, after the bulk of the rain, I took a long walk down Broadway to check up on the Broadway Plaza project. I had been in the area on Tuesday, getting a flat tire on my wife’s car fixed (I should give a shout-out to America’s Tire, at 1610 Broadway, who fixed our flat for free), and while I was waiting I noticed signs of activity on the Broadway Plaza project’s main site. So I planned my visit for Wednesday, and of course brought along my camera.

What I had noticed from the tire place, and confirmed when I came back on foot, is that the parking lot in front of the shopping center buildings that were torn down just over three years ago is finally being removed. Back when those buildings were torn down, the materials that they were made from (metal, glass, concrete) were carefully separated and recycled. The asphalt parking lot, though, was left largely untouched. Until this week (or last week), at least. While there I watched a backhoe pulling up chunks of asphalt; the property now contains a number of piles of the ripped up parking lot:

In addition to tearing up the asphalt, the contractor also tore down another portion of the shopping center buildings. Three years ago, they tore down everything but the CVS Pharmacy (which remains in operation, at least for now) and one small storefront attached to that pharmacy building. Here is an old photograph taken from Bay Road, showing that remaining storefront (on the left, with the clay tile roof) and the CVS Pharmacy (the tan-colored block building on the right):

And here is a photo I took this week, from a similar vantage point. As you can see, the smaller storefront with the clay tile roof is now gone, all except for one large wooden beam, and the outline of where that storefront used to attach to the CVS building:

I’m not sure why this work is going on right now; perhaps they had some workers with some extra time on their hands. Or perhaps they needed to make some bit of progress to satisfy the city that the project continues to move ahead. Whatever the reason, the city is well aware that The Sobrato Organization, who is behind the large mixed-use (office, residential, a child care center, and some retail) Broadway Plaza project is working to first get the new CVS Pharmacy open just across Woodside Road, after which the old one here on the main project site can be torn down, and excavation can begin for the massive underground garage that will lie beneath almost the entirety of the project site.

As for that new CVS Pharmacy building at the corner of Woodside and Bay roads, that is coming along great, as you can see:

The walls are complete, the roof is on, and the shell appears ready for the windows to be installed. A sign along Bay Road indicates that this new pharmacy should be ready for occupancy in “Winter 2022.” Winter is often taken to mean December-February, and I could certainly imagine that this building might be done by the end of February, but we’ll see. Whenever it turns out to be, once the lights are on and the doors are open, all work will focus on the main site; expect digging to get underway there fairly quickly after. Signs on that parcel indicate that Sobrato estimates that “phase 1” — which I believe encompasses the underground parking garage and the three residential buildings that will be built at the Chestnut Street end of the property — will be complete in spring of the year 2026. The three office buildings (which I presume make up “phase 2”) will likely be underway by that time, but won’t be completed until sometime after that.

While taking some pictures in an entirely different part of town, I took a jog (not literally; I’m not a runner) down Center Street to see if the 31 Center Street project had finally gotten started, and was pleased to see that, at long last, it has:

I haven’t written about this project for quite some time — it was proposed 2018 and approved in 2019, and I’ve been waiting for it to get underway ever since — so here’s a quick recap. The plan is to build seven three-story townhouse-style condominiums on the lot you see above. That lot is located at the corner of Center and Linden streets, giving it street frontage on two sides (Center Street extends westward from El Camino Real; eastward, it is the main entrance into the Target shopping center). Before the lot was cleared, it held just one single-family house with a two-car garage. This house:

When done, the project should look something like this:

It will consist of two buildings, with a driveway (off Linden Street) separating the two. The building along Center Street will consist of four townhouses, while the one across the driveway will consist of three. That second building will parallel the back side of the Budget Inn, which extends the depth of the entire block from its main entrance off El Camino Real.

With the 31 Center Street project now underway, it must be time for a new project to be submitted (isn’t that the way things work here in Redwood City?). And of course, here in Redwood City it always seems that a smaller project, like 31 Center Street, is balanced out by a larger project. Like this one:

Welcome to 1205 Veterans Boulevard, Redwood City’s newest project submittal. This project is planned for the entire block now occupied by the single-story Veterans Square strip center:

I’ve written about this project before: this was one of the Gatekeeper Process projects that the city studied back in August 2020. The project was then “initiated” by the City Council at its October 12, 2020 meeting, giving the developer the green light to finalize their design and submit the project to the city’s planning department. And submit the project, the developer has.

The project as it now stands is essentially what was originally proposed, with tweaks. When it went through the Gatekeeper Process it was intended to have 430 apartments (70 below market rate), 5,000 square feet of retail space, and a 6,000 square foot daycare center. In the current design, the number of apartments has been increased to 479, with 70 of those still being below market rate. The retail space has also been increased, a bit, to 5,600 square feet, while the daycare center has been reduced to 5,300 square feet.

More striking is the change in design; back then the developer envisioned the project looking something like this:

I keep studying the latest rendering and comparing it with the preliminary plans. I should point out that although that first drawing appears to show a massive monolith of a building, that’s not what we’d be getting. In truth, what the developer is proposing is two separate buildings, with a large chunk of the development’s common space — some 15,000 square feet, including the resident’s pool — separating the two. The buildings would have hollow centers, with an 18,000-square-foot courtyard in the center of each — although those, of course, would not be visible from the outside. Small roof decks on the top (sixth) floor of each building would look out over Veterans Boulevard.

Interestingly, the right-hand building (as viewed from Veterans Boulevard) would have embedded into its faces sixteen townhouse-style units (ten facing Veterans Boulevard, and six facing Hansen Way). Four of those would be “studio townhouses” (that is, they’d be quite small, but still two-story), while the rest would be configured with two bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. As for the remaining 463 apartments, they would range in size from 539-square-foot studios to a handful of 1,185-square-foot, 3-bedroom/2 bathroom units. The majority, though would have either one bedroom (272 of them) or two (131 of them).

Parking would be accommodated in above-ground garages within each building. Together those garages would have space for 617 cars. There would also be secure bicycle storage for a total of 164 bicycles. As for garage entrances and exits, those would all be on the back side of the buildings; vehicles would use the existing alley that runs between Maple Street and Hansen Way to get to and from the garages.

This project has just been submitted, so I expect it’ll be a year or two before the project is approved (assuming it is approved), and then another couple of years before the project actually gets underway (assuming it does). So don’t fret about the future of the handful of remaining retailers in this center: they should be able to stay for several more years. Indeed, I received an email from one of the owners of Hoot Judkins Furniture, and he assured me that they won’t be going anywhere soon. The same, I presume applies to Tuesday Morning and Party City, who also operate from that center. As for the spaces that formerly were occupied by Kohlweiss Auto Parts, Soccer Pro, Antiques Then & Now and Dollar Deal, those have all been taken over by tech firm Dexterity, who makes robots for use in warehouses. Whether or not they remain, though, remains to be seen: I received confirmation that indeed the former Kmart store next door to the Veterans Square center is indeed being remodeled for Dexterity. I assume that they’ll move their entire operation into that 100,000-square-foot building, and likely vacate their spaces within Veterans Square. But whether that actually happens, and when, I’ll wait to see.

Redwood City is obligated to ensure the creation of just under 4,600 new housing units (apartments, condos, single-family homes, ADUs, etc.) at various levels of affordability by the year 2031, and the city has actually set itself a goal of 150% of that target: just under 6,900 new units. Projects like this one (especially, with its 70 below-market-rate units) are a key part of reaching that goal. That, plus the fact that this seems like a fairly logical place to put a large housing development — it sits directly across the street from the 136-unit Casa de Redwood senior housing building, which shares its block with a number of large apartment complexes along Marshall Street — works in its favor. But a lot can happen between project proposal and a certificate of occupancy, so we’ll see if this one comes to pass.

I will close this week’s post with one last small item: the Big 5 Sporting Goods space (which has sat empty since Big 5 vacated their space nearly three years ago) in Redwood City’s Peninsula Boardwalk shopping center (where Kohl’s and Sports Basement are located) has a tenant! It is becoming a Planet Fitness gym and fitness club:

I peeked inside, and the place appears just weeks — maybe even days! — away from opening. There was finish work being done on the check-in counters and such, but it appeared that much, if not all, of the fitness equipment was in place:

So, I guess Redwood City has yet another option for places to work out…