About Greg

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.

Gaining Approval

Depending upon how you look at it, Redwood City’s Development Projects web page can yield some interesting insights. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, but I was somewhat surprised to note that, if you sort the listed projects by submittal date, no new projects have been submitted to the city so far this year. The most recent project on that page appears to be the large (409 units) residential project planned for 1205 Veterans Blvd., where the center containing Hoot Judkins is today. That project, having been submitted last October, has a long way to go, of course, and still is in the “Application Deemed Incomplete” stage. So assuming it is approved, it’d be quite a while yet before we see any actual construction.

I more often look at the Development Projects page sorted by project status. While I can usually rattle off the status of Redwood City’s many projects from memory — most projects change status after a meeting of the Planning Commission or City Council, and I keep a close eye on those meetings — every once in a while I’m surprised. As is the case this week, when I pulled up the page and noted not the one change I expected — 1201 Main St., changing from Proposed to Approved — but two. The 1201 Main St. project indeed has been updated to Approved, to reflect the thumbs-up it received from the Planning Commission just a couple of weeks ago (at their April 18 meeting). Similarly, though, the proposed affordable housing project for the “Bethlehem A.D.” parcel — at 1304 Middlefield Rd. — has also been changed from Proposed to Approved. So why did this change catch me by surprise? Because this is the rare sizable project that was able to be approved entirely by the city’s Zoning Administrator, and I don’t keep a very close eye on Zoning Administrator meetings.

The 1304 Middlefield Rd. project is a seven-story for-rent apartment building containing 94 units ranging in size from studios up to two-bedroom units, all being made available at the “Low” affordability level. It was able to skip the usual process thanks to SB-35, the Scott Wiener-authored bill that streamlines the approval process for affordable housing projects in “California counties and cities that fail to build enough housing to meet state mandated housing construction requirements.”

When Bethlehem A.D. — the annual re-creation of old Bethlehem put on during the Christmas season by the Rise City Church — announced that last year’s event would be the final one at their 1304 Middlefield Rd. location, I had to wonder. I knew about the project proposed for that site, of course, but that proposal was submitted to the city in late July, and I figured that by the time the project navigated the normal approval process and then got its various ducks in a row, it would be two or three years before groundbreaking would take place. Thus, I assumed that the site would be available for at least one (or maybe two) more Bethlehem A.D. performances. But thanks to the streamlined approval process afforded by SB-35, suddenly there is a real chance that groundbreaking might indeed occur before the end of the year.

I’ve written about this project before, back when the project was first proposed. The final design looks to be very close to that original proposal, with the building’s lobby, a “flex space,” and offices on the ground floor, apartments on floors two through seven, and parking (42 stalls, five of which have EV chargers, plus secure storage for 94 bicycles) tucked into floors one and two. The third floor includes a large community room, plus an outdoor courtyard. This last is particularly important given that the building itself occupies the vast majority of the 0.7-acre parcel, leaving only a small amount of room for ground-floor outdoor space (there is a small area behind the building containing a “gathering space” and what appears to be raised beds for a community garden).

Here is a rendering of the approved building, showing how it will look from the corner of Middlefield Road and Cassia St.:

Not far from 1304 Middlefield Rd. is the other recently-approved project, this one at 1201 Main St. The existing building on this site is currently home to Wings Learning Center, which “serves the individual needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”:

The building is somewhat warehouse-like, which may reflect a former life. In any case, it doesn’t make the best use of a lot that is close to being triangular-shaped.

The project that was approved for this site is an interesting one, being a mixed-use building that will have offices on the lower floors and residential units on the upper floors. Here is a really terrific rendering of what is slated to replace the previously pictured building:

Note the Caltrain tracks on the very right edge of the image. The street that runs diagonally from the bottom of the image up and to the right is Main Street. Cassia Street is that bit of pavement along the bottom at the image’s left end, and Heller Street angles up from the left edge of the image and runs behind the building.

Design-wise, this building can almost be thought of as two buildings in one. In the above image, the darker brick (along Main Street) and the glass curtain walls (on Cassia Street) mark the offices, with the entrance to the office portion of the building being at the corner of Cassia and Heller streets (in the all-glass portion of the building). Then, the portion of the building with the white roof and tan siding is where the residential units will be located, with the entrance to those residences being, technically, on Pennsylvania Avenue (that street running straight up the right side of the earlier image, just to the left of the Caltrain tracks). Here is another image showing that particular entrance:

Also note the residential unit balconies that can be seen from this angle. There are others that will look out over Heller Street.

Although this building almost looks as if it is a three-story triangular building tucked into the crook of a five-story L-shaped building, in reality almost the entirety of the building’s first three floors are wide open and dedicated to office use (except for the ground floor residential lobby, which leads to an elevator and stairs that provide access to the buildings upper floors). The fourth floor is about two-thirds residential and one-third office, while the fifth floor is all residential. Floors four and five are very roughly L-shaped; that large deck you see in the first image is on the roof of the triangular portion of the third floor, and is divided in two: the portion to the left, in front of the glass curtain wall, is dedicated to the building’s office tenants while the portion to the right, in front of the tan walls with windows, is reserved for those folks living in the building’s residential units.

This five-story building will contain 28 for-rent apartments, four of which are to be made affordable at a variety of levels. Eight of the units will be studios, with the remaining 20 being one-bedroom units. As for views, the units either look out over Heller Street, over the next-door San Jose Obrero Church, or over the rooftop deck.

Parking will be accommodated in a two-level underground garage, with cars entering and existing via Heller Street. The garage is slated to have 89 spaces for the office portion of the building, and 14 spaces for the residences. This building has the possibility of sharing parking spaces, with some of the office spaces being made available for residential use after business hours — but whether that actually happens may be up to whomever occupies the building’s offices.

Windy Hill Property Ventures — the project’s developer — has come up with an attractive design that will fit in nicely with the recently completed three-story office building at 1180 Main St. that sits just across the tracks from this site. Being on the edge of a large residential neighborhood, this new building’s apartments will fit in nicely. And although the building’s parking may seem somewhat limited, the walk to and from downtown Redwood City and the Caltrain station is a fairly easy one, one that will be made just a bit easier by the new sidewalks that will surround the building on three sides. Fingers crossed, when built and occupied the building will not put too much additional pressure on the street parking in this part of the Stambaugh-Heller neighborhood.