BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
By a 5-2 vote, Redwood City Council tonight (Nov. 11) approved the office complex that will replace Malibu Grand Prix.
Councilwomen Diana Reddy and Diane Howard voted against the 765,150-square-foot, three building project at 320-350 Blomquist St.
Howard has been a critic of the project since it first came before council almost eight years ago. She said while the developer, Jay Paul Co., was making some generous offers to the community, she needed to judge the project on its own merits.
Howard cited concerns that included eliminating the possibility for future industrial use the site is currently zoned for, increased traffic at Highway 101 and Woodside Road interchange and the increase to the jobs to housing imbalance the city and region are already dealing with.
“If approved, it will cause eternal gridlock at that (101 and 84) corridor,” Howard said, saying office space ought to go where the city has zoned for office space, along El Camino Real, downtown and along Veterans Boulevard and Broadway.
Howard also brought up that during the 2008 recession, while the region had empty office buildings, Redwood City’s port was still doing business and was an important economic base for the city.
Similarly, Councilwoman Alicia Aguirre said she’s concerned that given all of the tech layoffs that are occurring in the past few months. She also expressed similar concerns about the transportation aspect of the project. Aguirre, who has been on council for 17 years, said she can’t recall a light industrial project being brought to council for that area.
She and the four other council members who voted for the project – Giselle Hale, Lissette Espinoza Garnica, Elmer Martinez Saballos and Jeff Gee – all praised parts of Jay Paul’s $65.6 million of “community benefits” that the city will get as the project progresses.
The largest part of the $65.6 million number, $36 million, will buy 64 apartments on Renato Court and hand them over to the nonprofit St. Francis Center, which helps find housing and distributes clothes and food to the needy.
Jay Paul is also promising to give $6.5 million to improve the Blomquist Street bridge, $13 million for park or athletic field improvements and $1 million for the interchange at Woodside Road and Highway 101.
Most of the nearly 20 public speakers during the meeting tonight were in favor of the project.
Hugo Torres said the benefits Jay Paul is proposing will address needs in the community. He said one can’t expect a single developer to “solve all of the world’s problems” with a single project, “but it can make a dent,” he said.
Kris Johnson was one of two people who spoke against the project, he pointed out that the seven or so years the project has languished shows it’s a bad project.
But ultimately, the council voted 5-2 to approve the project, ending the long process to get city approval.
Jay Paul Co. now has 10 years to build the project. It can extend its agreement with the city for another five, bringing it to a maximum of 15 years to build the project before the council’s approval tonight expires.