Construction on a critical part of Redwood City’s effort to rebuild its downtown core is underway — the next stage in a long-term plan aimed at encouraging residential, commercial and retail development.
The 2.3-acre project is situated within walking distance of the Redwood City Caltrain station and includes approximately 300,000 square feet of office space, 5,000 square feet of retail and about 900 covered parking spaces. The Crossing/900 project is the largest of its kind in city history. The project is expected to be completed in 2015, said Bill Ekern, Redwood City community development director.
The new office space will be home to a number of businesses, whose employees — and the money they spend in Redwood City — will help drive the daytime economy, Ekern said. The project will bring an estimated 1,000 employees to the city.
But one concern has been parking, or lack thereof, while Crossing/900 is under construction — an issue raised at a recent City Council meeting. The development is being built on the site of a former 200-space city lot, and will likely cause parking difficulties if more retail businesses move into the downtown core — which is expected, according to a city staff report.
The city plans to take various measures to mitigate any potential disruptions to parking. Some measures include a shuttle service to and from the 797 free parking spaces at the County Garage at Middlefield Road and Veterans Boulevard, and parking ambassadors to help guide people to open spots.
City planners expect a large number of people who will eventually work at Crossing/900 to use Caltrain — due to its close proximity — as well as SamTrans.
Planners say they do not anticipate any increased traffic congestion to be a problem. “From an urban perspective traffic is a good thing,” Ekern said, “It slows people down. And the beauty of congestion is that people start to look for alternate means to travel.”
The Crossing/900 development is the second step in the city’s “three-pronged” approach to development. Ekern said the idea is to develop housing first, followed by offices and finally retail space.
The current “housing boom” has been successful, according to Ekern, and the city is ready for the next step: office space. The city’s completed “precise plan” — a document that outlines in detail the various requirements and guidelines for development projects — has allowed projects such as Crossing/900 and residential projects to proceed relatively quickly, officials say.
“It just saves an immense amount of time and aggravation,” said Ekern, noting other projects on the Peninsula have encountered delays due to neighbors’ protests and court battles.
Redwood City’s effort to re-make its downtown is representative of a new generation of community planning that takes into account the realities of a considerably more dense city, Ekern said.