With Redwood City's downtown plan in effect, city staff has highlighted a 2.75 acre block that is ripe for development, according to Downtown Development Coordinator Dan Zack.
And developers are knocking.
The city back in January, which serves as the blueprint for the downtown area. And unlike in 2007, when for not sufficiently analyzing the potential shadow impacts on nearby buildings, this go-around did not face any legal challenges, Zack said. Now, the city council must direct staff on how to pursue development in the area designated as “Block 2,” bordered by Jefferson, Middlefield and the Caltrain tracks.
“We’re in the driver's seat,” Councilmember Rosanne Foust said. “I don’t want to limit this to one, two or three developers. Let’s see what folks come up with.”
For starters, development company Hunter Storm began negotiations with city officials for an exclusive contract to purchase the land as soon as the council approved the downtown plan. Developer Ed Storm said he believed an office building would be the best use of the space, to bring in businesses that would also supply more foot traffic to neighboring retail stores and restaurants. Storm said his company has already been speaking with three prospective tenants for its proposed 25,000 sq. ft. building.
Hunter Storm has purchased and developed four office buildings in Redwood City:
- Old Republic Title Building at 601 Allerton
- RWC Technology Station at 500 Arguello Street
- Veterans Plaza at 1400 Veterans Blvd.
- DPR Headquarters at 1450 Veterans Blvd.
“We’re just hoping we can get a commitment from the city that they’ll move forward with making a decision,” Storm said.
But city staff presented numerous opportunities at the city council meeting, including a hotel with a venue that could host large events. The ballroom at the in Redwood Shores has a maximum capacity of 400 people.
“The window for development in the hotel market is very cyclical,” Zack said. “And now it seems to be open. Many hotel developers are showing interest.”
Councilmember Ian Bain suggested development such as a bowling alley. With the and Palo Alto Bowl, the closest bowling alley is in San Mateo. Bain said he reached out to the corporate offices of Lucky Strike, a high-end bowling alley chain, but they weren’t interested yet.
“However, if something were in the works, they might change their tune,” he said.
City staff said the development should welcome travelers into downtown and provide more synergy between the Sequoia Shopping Center and the downtown.
“Right now, they turn their backs toward each other,” Zack said.
One aspect of the property that would need reconfiguring is the 211-space Middlefield parking lot. Developers would have to work parking lots into their designs, Zack said.
“We can have a design contest, get developers’ creative juices flowing,” Councilmember John Seybart said. “We can get some chefs in to test the area.”