Redwood City’s new community center is on the cusp of final approval.
The City Council on Dec. 16 will cast a deciding vote on the highly anticipated Veterans Memorial Senior Center and YMCA joint project. On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Planning Commission recommended the council certify the final environmental impact report for the project and also rezone the parcel on which it will stand — the two remaining steps before construction can begin, likely in the beginning of 2020.
“I’m so excited this is nearing final approval,” said Commissioner Rick Hunter, noting the project has been at least nine years in the making.
Located in Red Morton Park, the project consists of two buildings — the two-story senior center and YMCA — that collectively total 80,000 square feet. The buildings will be set back 60 feet from the sidewalk and divided by a partially covered outdoor promenade on what is now Nevada Street.
The complex will feature two swimming pools — one indoor, one out — open year-round, a 270-seat theater, a cafe, gym and plenty of recreation and hangout space intended for daytime and nighttime uses. The senior center will be powered solely by electricity and will offer air-conditioning on hot days.
There will also be interactive rotating exhibits and displays celebrating veterans and the San Francisco 49ers football team, which used to practice at the park decades ago.
The YMCA plans to offer various community benefits to ensure its facility is accessible to all, including discounts for low-income residents, seniors and veterans, monthly free days and free education programs.
The senior center is expected to cost $59.4 million, which will be funded by park impact fees and lease revenue bonds. The YMCA will be paying for its building and it and the city will be splitting the cost of the common areas, allowing the city to recoup about $3.2 million.
Construction will occur in two phases. The first phase encompasses the senior center and traffic calming improvements at four nearby intersections while the second phase is the YMCA building.
The traffic calming improvements, including bulbouts and raised crosswalks, will occur at the intersections of Valota Road and Madison Avenue, Myrtle Street and Hudson Avenue and at Hudson and Madison avenues.
Based on input received during the EIR comment period, the city plans to improve visibility and accessibility for cyclists at the intersection of Valota Road and Madison Avenue, add crosswalks on both sides of the street at Myrtle Street and Hudson Avenue and also reduce speeds by intentionally limiting visibility at the existing traffic circle at Hudson and Madison avenues. Staff is also thinking of other ways to improve nighttime visibility at the above intersections with reflective paint and other materials.
The final project includes 283 parking stalls, which is more than enough to meet weekday demand, but is not quite enough to achieve a 90% or less occupancy rate during weekends — a parking lot functions best when 90% occupied or less so that new arrivals can be assured of finding a spot and won’t drive around searching. To free up a few spots, the 12 or so employees expected to staff the senior center will park at the Community Activities building parking lot on the south side of the park during weekends.
Finally, staff is asking the council to rezone the two parcels associated with the project from R2 Duplex to public facilities to better align with the general plan. The rezone will not affect any adjacent or nearby single-family homes.
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