A developer planning a 161-unit, seven-story apartment building in the heart of North Fair Oaks amid industrial and commercial businesses as well as schools and residences was offered help by the North Fair Oaks Community Council Thursday in reaching out to the nearby community to gauge concerns.

With considerations for how the proposed building at what is currently a vehicle storage lot for nearby businesses at 2949 Edison Way in North Fair Oaks might fit among the neighborhood, councilmembers offered to help the developer find ways to conduct outreach meetings with the community surrounding the angled lot. The council is an advisory group to the Board of Supervisors since the area is in unincorporated San Mateo County.

Councilwoman Linda Lopez suggested the developer have dialogue with the community as building plans progress and go beyond larger forums like the council’s Thursday meetings, noting the project’s large size and the lot’s proximity to single-story residences across the street.

“That’s a good way to get … the neighborhoods to buy into it because it’s just such a big project,” she said. “We could certainly help set that up.”

Alyn Beals, a Redwood City resident and president and CEO of the developer Beals Martin general contractor, said the angled lot just north of Second Avenue and east of Middlefield Road was a lumber yard when he and a group of local residents purchased the property in 2003.

After several developers stepped forward with interest in building on the site in recent years, Beals said the ownership group decided to explore developing the property to invest in a community where they have already built other projects, adding that over one-third of his company’s developments — which include the seven-building Redwood Junction business park on the 2600 block of Middlefield Road — are located in North Fair Oaks.

“I think there’s an opportunity for a great project and also an equal opportunity for residents to have quality homes,” he said.

On Friday, Beals said his company has met with county planners in recent years to better understand what types of projects would best meet the area’s needs, and found that additional housing would fit well within the county’s vision for the lot’s zone, which is currently one of the county’s industrial zones. At the Thursday meeting, county planner Will Gibson said rezoning planned for the site would include residential uses, but the developer could request the site be rezoned to include residential should the ownership group wish to submit an application before that happens.

Beals said the group’s focus would be working with councilmembers and county officials in the coming months to conduct community outreach meetings, and said the earliest the developer might submit plans for the project to the county would be in six months, after sufficient community input has been gathered.

By providing a mix of studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, the project is set to increase the area’s housing stock by 161 units at a mix of affordability levels, said Jonathan Ennis, principal of BDE Architecture, the firm drawing the plans. Ennis said the number of below-market rate units included in the project has yet to be finalized but that the developer is committed to providing a significant amount of below-market rate units on site. Though Ennis said the plans are still in the design phase, he said townhomes with front stoops are currently planned to make way for more active uses on Edison Way with the parking garage expected to face the railroad tracks on the eastern side of the property.

Chair Everardo Rodriguez inquired about how much parking would be provided and also asked the developer to consider the mix of industrial and residential parking needs in the surrounding area, where he said many trucks regularly travel.

“This is a very high-density area and we currently have a lot of problems with parking,” he said.

Ennis said 253 parking spaces are planned for the project, which he said offers parking at a higher ratio than parking the firm included in other designs for Redwood City developments.

Vice Chair Beatriz Cerrillo encouraged the developer to have ongoing conversations with those who might be affected as plans take shape to ensure the building’s design and size blend with the surrounding area, which she added is also near the Fair Oaks Community School at 2950 Fair Oaks Ave.

“The outreach for the neighborhood is really important,” she said. “This is a such a humongous, colossal project … in the middle of a very low-income area.”

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(2) comments

Desmo

With such a community-centric group in charge it would be great to see a local developer utilize a local labor force to build this project. Too often we have seen developers bring in underpaid labor from outside the local communities for these projects, especially in Redwood City. Utilizing a local labor force builds good will in the community, supports the local tax base for infrastructure, police & fire and supports local businesses.

Seasoned Observer

This is a good example of what we need to deal with the imbalance between jobs and housing; more supply on the housing side.

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