Don’t you just love it when someone does your work for you? I certainly do. When I was working in the tech field, on occasion one of my colleagues would do something that I had planned on doing, before I got to it (and vice versa, for that matter). Now that I’m working all by my lonesome, however, I stopped expecting this to happen. However, this week, it did.
On Wednesday my wife and I made our periodic grocery shopping run, which in our case involves a trip to Sigona’s Farmer’s Market (on Middlefield Road, opposite Costco) followed by a trip to Dehoff’s Key Market (at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Upton Street). The route I take between the two involves Woodside Road, allowing me to regularly monitor the progress of the Hallmark House Apartments project (on Woodside Road at Hudson Street) and the ten-unit condominium project being built at 910 Woodside Road. Anyway, as we approached Woodside Plaza, I noted that the old bank building at the corner of Woodside Road and Massachusetts Avenue — which has been empty and sitting behind a fairly solid construction fence for a long time now — was suddenly gone:
I made a mental note to pay the site (1390 Woodside Rd.) another visit in order to take photographs, and to do some digging to see if I could find out what was going on. Before I could do either, though, reader JJ wrote in to point out that the bank had been torn down, and to ask if I knew what was up.
A few hours later, reader TomS replied, noting that a 12,000-square-foot, two-story office building is apparently slated for the site, but that he couldn’t find any plans for it. Two hours after that, Adrian Brandt added to the thread, pointing out that the project is on the agenda for the upcoming City Council meeting (Monday, July 26, at 6 p.m.). He quoted the background paragraph in the staff report on the item, which I’ve included here:
On January 11, 2021, the Zoning Administrator approved Architectural Permit, AP2020-089 for a two-story 12,000 sq. ft. office building on the 20,072 sq. ft. site. The existing building will be demolished as a part of the project. The new building includes a 750 sq. ft. ground floor level (there is additional square footage devoted to garage space) and a 11,250 sq. ft. second story. The property is currently developed with an existing 5,510 sq. ft. building, previously occupied by a bank.
Need I add anything more? One thing that strikes me as curious is the fact that, according to the quoted text, the Zoning Administrator approved the Architectural Permit on January 11, 2021. However, the Zoning Administrator doesn’t appear to have had a meeting on that date, and the prior meeting, scheduled for January 7, appears to have been canceled. So I guess it was approved without a public meeting? Such a meeting is where I would have expected to find more details on the project — including renderings, generally — so I can add little more to what my readers already said. I will note that because this project was apparently already approved by the Zoning Administrator, the City Council is simply being asked to give that prior approval their thumbs-up, which they plan to do as part of the Consent Calendar. That means that unless one of the councilmembers has an issue with the project that they want to discuss, it will likely be approved with a single vote along with all of the other Consent Calendar items. Thus, we may not actually learn anything more about the project from Monday’s meeting.
[Update: Thanks to reader Kris (see the comments), we now have a link to the project plans. Those plans indeed include a couple of renderings, one of which I’ve added below, showing how the building would look as viewed from Woodside Road heading west.]
I do want to thank all of the readers involved; this week you pretty much did my work for me, at least on this item. Teamwork! I love it.
Based on the agenda, Monday’s City Council meeting doesn’t look to be a barn-burner. Nevertheless, I’ll be watching. For one thing, I want to see if there indeed is any further discussion on 1390 Woodside Road. For another, there is item 7C, an issue that is near and dear to my heart. The long-winded title of that particular item is:
Close a portion of Middlefield Road, “Theatre Way,” and purchase surface mounted sliding bollards for the Theatre Way Safety Improvement Project
At long last, the City Council is apparently going to take action to make permanent the closure of the one block of Theatre Way (Middlefield Road) between Broadway and Winslow Street. I like to think that my agitation on the subject helped to get that block closed in the first place, but because it was closed using temporary materials — and because it was reopened for a time during COVID-19 — I have continued to worry that the closure might never be made permanent (permanent being always relative: the street will still be accessible to emergency vehicles, maintenance vehicles, trash trucks, and some delivery vehicles, plus, of course, pedestrians and cyclists). At long last, though, the city appears to have decided that the closure was indeed a good idea, and that it truly should be made permanent.
Because they already own it, I had thought that the city was going to make use of the “wedge barricade” that they’ve been using for the temporary closure of Broadway at Main Street to allow for expanded outdoor dining space:
However, the City Council’s Transportation/Mobility Sub-Committee, which worked out the details of the issue and came up with the final recommendation, noted that wedge barricades restrict pedestrian and bicycle access, which is something we certainly don’t want to do on Theatre Way. Bollards (metal posts) make sense, but retractable ones can’t be used since the two level garage beneath the theater building actually extends under the street as well. As the staff report for this item notes, “The top of the reinforced concrete structure is inches below street level and retractable bollards would puncture the roof of the garage.” You can’t argue with that…
The solution the subcommittee came up with is one I’ve never seen before: “electromechanical sliding bollards.” Rather than go up and down, these things simply slide out of the way with the push of a button. For the curious among you, the manufacturer’s web page includes a short video that shows them in operation (although in the video, the bollard is simply pushed out of the way, rather than moved by “electromechanical” means, as ours will be).
Assuming that this item is approved — and I can’t imagine it won’t be, especially given that the Redwood City Improvement Association (RCIA) has agreed to fund half of the project cost (up to $225,000; the total estimated purchase and installation should be about $500,000), and given that funds for this purchase were already authorized in the city’s FY 2020-21 Capital Improvement Program budget — the city will be purchasing two “systems,” which implies that these things will be installed at both ends of the block, rather than just at the Winslow Street end. Apparently there is a lead time on these things of five months or more, so even if the council does indeed approve the purchase, don’t expect to see them installed before early 2022. The actual process of installation should take about a month, but access to Theatre Way will of course be maintained during construction, so it shouldn’t cramp anyone’s style.
In other news, I cycled the length of Vera Avenue the other day so that I could write a newspaper column (which will be in this weekend’s Daily Journal; see the Opinion section) about the city’s plans to upgrade the street to a “bicycle boulevard.” When I reached El Camino Real, I was positively delighted to see that after a long period of apparent inaction, a tiny bit of progress has been made on the project at 112 Vera Avenue.
At one time, there were a handful of small duplexes on the site. For who knows what reasons they deteriorated over time, and eventually were taken over by squatters. Urged by the city, the property owner eventually stripped the buildings to their studs, and then later tore them down to their foundations. They then added the framing for the floors, but nothing else; the project ground to a halt at that point (this was in early 2020). Since then, nothing. Until the other day, at least, when I took the above picture. Look closely and you can see that the old concrete foundations have been stripped of their framing once again. Here’s hoping that things will progress from here. I for one will be watching…
Last week the city held the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Veterans Memorial Building/Senior Center project in Red Morton Park. You know the kind of thing: where a number of dignitaries wearing hard hats and holding shiny shovels each make speeches and then pitch a shovelful of dirt (often hauled in just for the event) for the benefit of photographers. While such events do signal progress of some sort, often the real progress on the project takes a while to actually get underway following that ceremony. Not so with the VMSC project, it seems: I didn’t expect to see anything interesting when I rode by the building this week (Vera Avenue dead-ends at either end of Red Morton Park; I had to go through the park to get to the other part of Vera, and while I was there I naturally had to check in on the project). However, I was pleasantly surprised to see this:
That trailer, in case it doesn’t immediately look familiar, is loaded with sections of construction fencing, sections that were being unloaded and placed into position as I stood watching.
Earlier today I paid the site a second visit. Now, the buildings that will be torn down for the first phase of the project — including the Senior Center Annex (the “Old 49er Building”), the NFL Alumni Building, and Herkner Pool — appear fully surrounded by that construction fencing:
Next up, the heavy equipment will move in and clear the site. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for that: this is a terrific project that should produce a much-improved facility not only for our seniors but for a variety of community groups.
Unrelated to any of the above, I happened to be by the project at 851 Main Street today, and noted that the building’s exterior is rapidly wrapping up. The doors providing entry to the historic portion of the building are being installed, which should just about do it for the front facade, it appears:
Equally, the rear of the building, too, is just about buttoned up:
I can’t wait until this project is done and all of the disruption to the surrounding streets and sidewalks are no more…
One final plea regarding a beloved business near to the above. Lovejoy’s Tea Room is about to close their Redwood City operation for good: they’ve been unable to find anyone to take over the business (but are still eager to talk to interested parties; if you or anyone you know is seriously interested in this wonderful little business, call [650-362-3055] or email [firstname.lastname@example.org] right away). Although tea is not longer being served at their 901 Main St. location, they are still offering take-away and delivery through Friday, August 20. Then, in September, they plan to have a “saying goodbye” sale. One ray of sunshine: they will continue to offer teas, scones, and “other treats” for delivery through their e-commerce site. So if you like their scones as much as my wife and I do, we still have an option (they have scone subscriptions!). But it would be even better if someone would take over and thus continue operating their Redwood City store. Any ideas?
Lastly, I just wanted to note that this week’s Music in the Park concert (the California Cowboys) was a massive hit, apparently: the park was jam-packed with people:
I honestly don’t recall ever seeing the park that crowded — and I’ve been attending these concerts since the beginning. People were line-dancing up front, and the Optimist Club seemed to be doing a land-office business selling hot dogs and hamburgers. Although I had some trepidation about seeing so many people packed so closely together, I was nevertheless pleased to see so many people in community.
If these events continue to be this popular, let the above photo serve as a reminder that, if possible, you should get to the park early for these events. I have yet to check in on the Music on the Square concerts (tonight is a Neil Diamond tribute band), but presume that they, too, are proving to be popular. After the year-and-a-half we’ve just lived through, is it any wonder?