A Redwood City developer has submitted a preliminary application to erect an 84-acre life science campus in Redwood Shores, bringing in more than 3 million square feet of office space with other potential community amenities.
“Things are going to change as they move forward with community input,” Mayor Diane Howard said. “There’s still room for improvements I believe but what’s proposed to you is not the final project. It never is and that’s a good thing.”
Longfellow Real Estate Partners, an commercial space developer with an office based in Redwood City, is seeking to redevelop its 20-building Redwood LIFE office site into a modern life science campus. The project would include 3.24 million square feet of office space, more than doubling the amount of existing office space while including an 82,000-square-foot Amenity Center and a 75,000-square-foot hotel with 150 rooms.
All of the 20 office buildings currently existing on the site, including those holding Shutterfly, Nintendo and PROCEPT BioRobotics, would need to be demolished to make way for the new campus, including active and passive public spaces. New structures would be built between four and seven stories high, serving roughly 7,574 employees. The main address is 3400 Bridge Parkway, just east of the Oracle campus.
Many Redwood City residents have raised concerns about office development as various large office spaces have either been approved or proposed in the city. Some have pushed back on office development as remote work grew in popularity during the pandemic and others have suggested the new office spaces are contributing to the city’s jobs-to-housing imbalance.
“The concerns are very real and this project will have to go through a very extensive project review with numerous planning department approvals,” Howard said. “I’m hoping this process is extensive and thorough.”
Given the space is intended to serve as a life science and lab space, Evan Schwimmer, managing director of Longfellow Real Estate Partners, said in an email that employees in the life science industry often need to work from the office to complete their tasks. Howard also said developers have told her life science employees require more space than other types of office workers, justifying the large office proposals.
Mark Muenzer, Redwood City’s Community Development and Transportation director, said the city has suggested the developer reach out to community groups before formally submitting an application. Schwimmer shared assurances that the agency would routinely meet with the public while also receiving feedback through a recently launched project website.
“We have been and will continue to engage in community outreach for this project, including two virtual open houses later this month,” Schwimmer said, noting “affordable housing is something we intend to work on concurrently with our project and know it will be an important part of discussions we have with the community.”
Open houses and community meetings are expected to begin this month, Howard said. Addressing housing concerns, she highlighted the council’s commitment to pursuing affordable housing proposals and attempting to alleviate the city’s jobs-to-housing imbalance.
Recently, councilmembers have placed pressure on developers to include additional affordable housing units in their proposals but most plans had already included some form of housing. Still, Howard said the council has made their priorities clear to those wishing to build within the city.
“[Developers are] very aware we want to see more housing produced,” Howard said. “They’re paying attention to council meetings and know our top priority is to provide housing for the people who live and work in our community.”
Muenzer noted the Redwood LIFE property is commercially zoned, requiring the developers to seek a zoning amendment to develop housing on the site if plans are adjusted. The city also requires developers to pay an Affordable Housing Impact Fee which helps fund new housing proposals, he said.
The land is also under a specific plan approved in 1985 that would need updating, Muenzer said. Longfellow came to own the Redwood LIFE campus, formerly known as Bayshore Technology Park, after purchasing the property in 2019, according to the project website.
Muenzer said construction would likely be completed in four stages over the span of 15 to 20 years with a formal application anticipated for submission by the end of this year. The city’s review process for a project of this size can take between 18 to 24 months alone, Muenzer said.
“It’s a very early stage proposal,” Muenzer said. “We have relayed to them they have to be proactive and creative in addressing community concerns.”
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