It has seemed as though Main Street was left behind as Redwood City’s construction boom transformed downtown over the past decade.
But many believe that’s about to change now that the City Council unanimously approved a mixed-use project at 847-849 Main St. at a meeting June 11. Officials and numerous residents, including retailers adjacent to the site, have been celebrating the development for years for its ability to revitalize not just Main Street but Walnut Street as well, and many have showed up to several of the nine public hearings on the proposal to voice their support.
“It’s a no-brainer, a great project for Redwood City, a great project for Main Street and I’m excited to get it going,” said Councilman John Seybert.
The Acclaim Companies’ 85,732-square-foot project will bring a mix of office and retail space, a 246-space underground parking lot with valet service, a public art gallery and a variety of other community benefits. Four parcels will be merged into one, and three of the four buildings currently on the site will be demolished, but the historic landmark building will be preserved and rehabilitated.
The office space will include an elevated outdoor seating area, and the building will be increasingly set back from the street as it rises from two to four stories, or 59 feet at its highest point.
Ground-level retail occupies 6,900 square feet and office space totals 78,832 square feet — 74,667 square feet over the downtown precise plan cap. That is one of many concessions and amendments to the general and downtown precise plans requested by the developer and happily granted by the council.
“The downtown precise plan was meant to be a fluid document and over time we’ve adjusted things and we’ll continue to in the future,” Seybert said. “This type of amendment was something that we kind of always planned . ... This is a great opportunity to continue the legacy of the downtown precise plan into an area like Main Street.”
Councilwoman Janet Borgens said she does not support increasing the cap for offices, but made this one-time exception because of the outreach efforts of the developers — brothers Mark and Gary Johnson — who have been celebrated about as much as the development.
“This company took the community into consideration first,” Borgens said. “They talked with the people first. I really think they could give lessons on how to build in a community and make it successful.”
The concessions granted by the council apply only to this project.
The project will bring a variety of improvements to the area, including street trees and landscaping, underground utilities and lighting on Walnut Street.
For Mayor Ian Bain, the rehab of historic resources, art gallery, parking on Main Street and elimination of blight are the project’s top selling points.
“These are all to me sustainable benefits. The money for nonprofits and schools is great but that’s one-time money that runs out,” he said. “I look at a project and how it’s going to impact the community for years to come and to me those benefits outweigh any disadvantages the project may bring.”
Those one-time payments include $605,000 to the affordable housing fund, $85,000 for public art, $25,000 to the Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation, another $25,000 to local public schools and $5,000 to the Sheriff’s Athletic League.
This is also the second Redwood City development in a row to receive nothing but kudos from speakers during council meetings, leaving councilmembers pleasantly surprised by this seemingly unprecedented streak of well-received developments.
“I don’t know what’s in the water right now, but I like it,” Seybert said.
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