The draft environmental impact report for the massive mixed-use Broadway Plaza proposal in Redwood City was a focus of a Planning Commission meeting Tuesday, at which commissioners celebrated the development, but also acknowledged traffic impacts are a significant concern.
“Transportation stands out the most among the unmitigated risks,” said Commissioner Giselle Hale, who just elected to the City Council, but has yet to be sworn in. “It’s the key thing to watch.”
According to the draft EIR, the project is set to bring an additional 3,777 daily car trips to an already congested area, which includes the Highway 101/84 Woodside interchange.
Submitted by the Sobrato Organization, the proposal is to demolish the existing shopping center at 1401 Broadway and a two-story office building there to make way for 400 market-rate and 120 affordable units for rent, 420,000 square feet of office space, 26,000 square feet of retail, a 10,000-square-foot child care facility serving up to 130 students and more than 2,000 parking spaces. The project site totals 15.3 acres. The site was previously home to Foods Co, Office Max and Big Lots stores. The locations of the Denny’s and the Jack in the Box at the corner of Woodside Road and Broadway are outside of the redevelopment plans.
Almost all commissioners as well as outspoken resident Kris Johnson praised the Sobrato Organization for its outreach and for adjusting project plans based on community feedback.
“Sobrato is one of the good developers, they know how to do outreach, they listen to the community and have true community benefits here,” Johnson said.
Hale applauded the affordable housing, open space and child care component of the development, which will be run by what she described as a “phenomenal” nonprofit, and while she and her colleagues identified traffic impacts as the primary concern, she also celebrated Sobrato for pledging to be a part of the solution.
“I believe Sobrato is contributing land towards the right of way for [the Highway 101/Woodside] project to be feasible,” Hale said. “Certainly this project alone would not contribute to the traffic situation we have on Woodside/101 and what we need is partners to solve that and I think that’s what this developer has demonstrated.”
Commissioner Ernie Schmidt also specifically mentioned the interchange as his main concern.
“I think that’s going to be something that is going to be extremely important as we’re hearing and learning about this project moving forward,” he said.
The Highway 101/Woodside interchange project is currently in the design phase and the plan is to complete that phase by 2020 and begin construction late 2020 or early 2021 if funding is secured, according to the city’s website. Construction would take three to three and a half years.
Commissioner Nancy Radcliffe also praised Sobrato and its proposal, but shared some aesthetic concerns.
“This is our gateway and I’m not having a problem aesthetically with the housing, I’m having a problem aesthetically with the office building,” she said. “I think we can do a better job at making this a featured building. It looks like an office building and not a gateway building.”
Radcliffe was also intrigued by one of the project alternatives, which is to build only residential for a total of 1,040 residential units. Another alternative is to just remove the offices and not add additional residential so the development would consist of 520 residential units. Chair Kevin Bondonno was also intrigued by the alternatives.
“This is one of the first if not the first EIRs where we actually have some alternatives that are quite interesting, could actually be viable and there’s a probability that this should be looked at in greater detail and could be considered as an alternative,” he said.
The draft EIR for the Broadway Plaza development is now in the 45-day public comment period, which wraps up Jan. 4. Comments received during that period will be included in the final EIR, which will return to the Planning Commission. The project will go before the City Council for final action likely by mid-2019.
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