A large office development re-envisioning a large portion of Redwood City’s downtown was submitted to the city, aiming to connect a site currently home to Chase Bank with Courthouse Square through public green space.
The proposed 10-story building at 2300 Broadway would predominantly serve as office space, consisting of 213,000 square feet for the use on levels 2 through 9. The ground floor would offer roughly 12,000 square feet for retail and amenities and the top floor would hold an event space and additional terrace with an abutting mechanical room.
A setback of the building at the third floor would allow space for a terrace and would align with configurations of the San Mateo County Museum and Courthouse Square next door. Developers also propose maintaining a building height of 112 feet “to respect the height of Courthouse Museum, a precedent that has been set by the community in other nearby projects.”
The project was one of nine to go through the city’s gatekeeper process which allowed the City Council to consider the large proposals collectively. Of the nine, the council selected six to move through the typical review process. City staff had suggested only five be approved given the current workloads city departments are under.
“We are very thankful that the council initiated the required General Plan amendment and allowed our project to move into formal review process,” Tishman Speyer said in a Project Narrative document submitted to the city March 4.
Staff had recommended the 2300 Broadway development be denied during the process given its location within the proposed boundaries of the Central Redwood City Plan study area. The city is currently working on the plan and staff suggested the proposal be considered within its context.
Instead of following staff direction, the council pushed the project forward to capitalize on an off-site affordable housing project not currently included in the submittal but promised by the developer as a community benefit. The site would have 80 units and would be owned and operated by MidPen Housing.
The proposal also won over councilmembers with 20,000 square feet of public open space. About 5,000 square feet on the corner of Broadway and Hamilton Street would make up what developers are calling Redwood Grove. The grove would preserve several redwood trees on the site.
Through the acquisition of Hamilton Way between Broadway and Marshall Street, developers propose extending the grove into a 15,000-square-foot pedestrian-only plaza called Hamilton Green. Community workshops and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department would help shape the design and programming of the plaza, according to documents submitted to the city.
Despite council support for the proposal, many have called into question the interest of developing additional office space as some companies pivot to permanent remote work or toward lowering their physical footprint.
Developers of various office-centered proposals responded to the criticism during the gatekeeper hearings in August and September by assuring the council the need for office space is still prevalent.
They suggested companies would require more space to allow for greater distance between employees and noted life science companies, a growing force in the county, also require larger floor plans.
Jennifer Yamaguma, the city spokeswoman, said in an email the proposal would undergo the same planning process as other large projects. Staff are still reviewing the proposal “against all applicable city policies and development standards,” she said.
“It is anticipated that there will be a more robust outreach process with the Gatekeeper projects, given the overall community interest and the level of development that is being proposed,” Yamaguma said. “As directed by the council at the initiation hearing, staff will continue to look at ways to streamline review and use city resources efficiently.”
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