Before master plan finalized, downtown attracting condos

The developer who’s building 100 new condominiums on Redwood Creek near downtown now plans to bring roughly 100 more condos to the heart of the city.

John Baer, whose condo proposal at 333 Main St. inspired the City Council to explore zoning several creekside properties near downtown for housing, is in the final stages of purchasing a 33,000-square-foot parcel at 201 Marshall St.

The property, an office building formerly leased by Summit Preparatory High School, is just a block from a Caltrain station and three blocks from the newly built retail-cinema complex, the cornerstone of Redwood City’s downtown revitalization plan.

Redwood City is moving ahead with plans to adopt its Downtown Precise Plan, a detailed blueprint for bringing more retail, restaurants and housing downtown. The plan is already attracting attention from a number of developers who, like Baer, think it will facilitate the creation of downtown projects.

“Through it, we know what we can build, in terms of heights, setbacks, parking counts and architectural style, plus it clears us of all the environmental studies,” Baer said.

The plan, which has been in the works since late 2005, has undergone extensive environmental review and could be adopted in the spring of 2007.

Even before Baer comes forward with plans for 201 Marshall St., architect Kurt Anderson plans to deliver his final vision for The Renaissance, an 87-unit condominium project proposed at 439 Fuller St., in January.

The project, first submitted by Anderson in 2005 under the name Tuscan Towers, concerned residents in the adjacent single-family neighborhood who didn’t like the project’s initial 10-story height.

Now, under the precise plan’s recommendations, Anderson is likely to propose a new design with a step-back aimed at minimizing the look of the upper floors.

“We’re going to be the first ones out of the chute and we’re setting the bar for the rest of the projects, so we’re following the precise plan to the letter,” Anderson said.

Baer and Anderson aren’t the only developers following the precise-plan process closely. Redwood City Planning Manager Jill Ekas recently met with more than a dozen downtown developers and property owners to getfeedback on the downtown guidelines.

“It’s getting a warm reception,” Ekas said. “Developers want to know how much parking they need to provide, whether they need to provide below-market-rate housing … but they are anticipating getting a plan in place.”

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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