Redwood City development would span six city blocks

A view of the Greystar project looking north, toward downtown Redwood City. Illustration by WRNS Studio.

BY JEN NOWELL
Daily Post Correspondent

Residents will get the chance tonight (July 30) to weigh in on a massive development of homes, offices and stores spanning six blocks along Main Street and El Camino in Redwood City.

Greystar Real Estate initially submitted its plans for the project back in January 2018, proposing the development of five blocks between El Camino and the train tracks. This includes the sites of the former Redwood Roller Rink, Hopkins Acura, Towne Ford, several auto repair shops, a car wash and the Main & Elm restaurant.

Since that time, the proposed project has grown to take up six blocks, which includes the majority of the development at 1601 El Camino with 39 additional apartments down the street at 1304 El Camino.

Apartments added

Greystar’s proposal has grown from 272 apartments (including 60 low-income apartments) to 291 apartments (including 97 low-income apartments), according to a report written by city Principal Planner Lindy Chan.

But while the number of homes has grown, the amount of office space proposed by Greystar has shrunk from 589,700 square feet in its original proposal to 550,143 square feet, according to project plans.

These changes could be in response to fears of adding more jobs than homes, worsening San Mateo County’s housing-jobs imbalance.
Based on the assumption of one worker for every 200 square feet of office space, the development would accommodate 2,750 employees. And assuming an average of two people would live in each of the 291 apartments, 582 people would be living in the project.
This ratio is slightly better than that of Greystar’s original proposal from last year, which had 544 people living in the project compared with 2,948 employees.

Neighborhood impact

Last year when the Post spoke with resident Kris Johnson, who in 2017 appealed another Greystar development at 1409 El Camino, he said he found it hard to believe the neighborhood could support that number of employees getting in and out of the area everyday.

“This contribution to our jobs-housing imbalance will only accelerate the gentrification and displacement in our community,” Johnson said. “It’s embarrassing.”

Mayor Ian Bain told the Post last year that he makes his concerns and expectations clear when he meets with developers, and pushes them to include low-income housing and alleviate traffic.

Additional retail space

Other changes to Greystar’s proposal include lowering the square footage of the daycare center but increasing the outdoor area, and increasing the amount of retail space, according to Chan. The proposal includes about 28,000 square feet of retail space and an 8,563-square-foot space for child care, she said.

The proposed buildings fronting El Camino would be four stories (70 feet), six stories (66 feet) and seven stories (84 feet) tall, while the remaining four buildings would each be three stories, or 48 feet, in height, according to plans submitted to the city.

Hearing tonight

The city’s planning commission meets tonight (July 30) at 7  to discuss the proposal for 1304 and 1601 El Camino Real. Greystar is looking for feedback from the commission and the public on what to include in the environmental impact report and the proposed development for the site.

9 Comments

  1. We’re facing an unprecedented homeless situation, people are being forced out of their homes due to huge rent increases, and Redwood City is going to approve a project that makes the housing/jobs imbalance worse? If City Council votes for this, we need to begin mandatory drug testing of council members. We can’t let the Council dig this hole deeper.

  2. Excellent, I want to have a plaza nearby where I live, mostly for the food trucks please add them in the outdoor space, about the price…well living in a wealthy community is living in a great quality of life, at first I was a crying baby for the increasing rents and sales, but now I understand it that I am living in a peaceful and a more secure community than it was 5-10 years ago, yeah!!!.

  3. This would have a huge negative impact on local traffic. No mention here of parking for the office & retail spaces or the pick-up / drop-off for day care. Cars already back up on Main due for left turns needed for #84 ramps. Chestnut between Main & El Camino is already dangerous during peak traffic times as many cut across on Lathrop (Franklin) to reach Jefferson & Sequoia Station.
    Until there is grade separation on Maple & Main, no development this size should be built. The additional vehicles this project would generate will create another RC traffic nightmare.
    Greystar’s practice of charging apartment tenants extra for garage space adds to congestion too, as many tenants park on the streets to avoid paying that $75-100 monthly fee.
    Do people in favor of this understand the definition & limits for “low income”? It’s 80% of the AMI (average monthly income) for the county. A single person earning up to $90,450 per year is “low income.”
    https://housing.smcgov.org/sites/housing.smcgov.org/files/AFFORD2019x_0.pdf . Will Greystone accept Section 8 vouchers? Those are often awarded for “very low income” households.
    The proposal estimates that apartments will have an average of 2 occupants. This is probably low. Many of the 2 BR apartments on Franklin St are occupied by families of 4. It won’t be any different here.
    Main, Maple, Lathrop & Cedar streets are narrow, one lane in each direction which are easily obstructed by a double parked car or delivery truck/van. Does this proposed project have a way to widen the streets?
    How will children at the day care facility be protected from the effects of high-decibel horns CalTrain blows @ Main & Maple train crossings? Any concerns about air quality near RR tracks for small children?
    This proposed behemoth would adversely affect this already-congested area in various ways & should not be approved.

    • Caltrain is being electrified and will use much quieter, non-polluting trains powered by 100% green/renewable electricity (no CO2 emissions). Train horns can easily be silenced with developer-funded “quiet zones” which prohibit mandatory (and mindless) horn-blowing, while still allowing it at the engineer’s discretion for actual potential hazards.

  4. I sincerely hope this project is not successful because of the lack of affordable housing and not just redwood City but the peninsula. Redwood City should do more for it’s current residents and local businesses before putting corporations interests.

  5. This is completely bullshxit. It’s hell getting around with all these new people. Most seem like it’s their first time driving a car. We don’t fit as it is. Selling everything this year and moving to the mountains with lots of acres.

  6. Downtown Redwood City is already completely crowded, packed with cars, and FULL of towering apartment buildings. Like we really need more!! Redwood City leadership is the equivalent of “Oprah” giving big Developers free reign of our neighborhoods and rubberstamping ridiculous projects. I wonder how much money the RWC leadership is receiving on the back end for this? This destroys the fabric of our community. I know Redwood City 20-30 years ago was nothing to write home about, but gentrification is full on in effect and downtown is being taken over by techies with big pocketbooks.

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