Redwood Creek poised for revitalization

The banks of Redwood Creek are now earmarked for mixed-use development that could draw more than 400 residential units, a pedestrian and bike path and better connections between downtown and the Bay.

A cluster of nine parcels between North Main Street and the creek, just north of Veterans Boulevard, could be the future home of mixed-use development after the City Council approved a precise plan for the 9.5-acre area Monday. Under the plan, when existing properties — including the Straw Hat Pizza site and assorted medical and office buildings — are redeveloped, they would be replaced by mixed-use residential, retail and offices along Redwood Creek.

“I’m happy that we’re not looking at projects in isolation, but rather at larger areas,” Vice Mayor Rosanne Foust said. “This way, if someone wants to come in 10 years from now and change [one of these buildings], we can make sure it fits.”

For now, just one site, at 333 Main St., is slated for a facelift. Developer John Baer proposes tearing down an older two-story office building and replacing it with approximately 100 condominiums, a concept that would be allowed after Monday’s vote.

Prior zoning did not permit residential development along North Main Street, according to planner Sailesh Mehra. Baer’s project has not yet been approved by the city’s Planning Commission.

The transition from commercial to mixed-use residential won’t happen unless property owners along North Main want to redevelop — or renovate by more than 50 percent. That didn’t keep some property owners from taking issue with the plan.

Owners of a new office building at 305 Main St. said they do not intend to renovate or replace the building, and felt that “a pathway along Redwood Creek with access across the rear of the property … will encroach significantly and adversely on current parking areas needed by tenants of the building,” according to a letter from attorney Kent Mitchell.

Several members of the City Council were especially interested in creating the pedestrian trail, including creek overlooks, along Redwood Creek.

Although the path cannot be constructed until redevelopment takes place within the plan area, it may only take one such development proposal to make it possible to build a trail, according to Mehra.

“When that does happen, the city could take the lead and get the path built in one shot,” Mehra said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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