Access and rush hour congestion top concerns for project at former Redwood City movie theater site
How a 338-unit apartment complex and 100,000-square-foot gym proposed for the former Century Park 12 theater site east of Highway 101 will affect traffic and the mix of affordable housing in a changing Redwood City neighborhood are among the concerns city planners will consider after the Planning Commission and residents scoped the project’s impact Tuesday.
Residents of the nearby One Marina condominium complex at 600 Bair Island Road expressed concerns about how existing roads and infrastructure would hold up with the influx of residents expected to accompany the project proposed for 557 E. Bayshore Road, just across a waterway from the restored wetlands at Bair Island. Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting launched an effort to collect public input to inform an environmental assessment currently underway.
Jim Crampton, resident at the One Marina condominiums, asked commissioners to consider the diversity of uses surrounding the 14.6-acre parcel, which includ e car dealerships and the recently-opened Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 600 Bair Island Road. The waterfront section of the city east of Highway 101 is also home to the Blu Harbor project, expected to make over 400 condominiums available less than a mile away when it’s complete.
“It’s a very complicated area,” he said. “We’re currently working with the city police and other parts of the city to deal with problems that were not properly recognized when the Marriott hotel was approved.”
He said the hotel has had trouble finding loading zones for large deliveries, which has, at times, created traffic on the route residents use to get in and out of their homes.
Kelly Radetich, another resident at the One Marina condominiums, cautioned planners to wait and see how the area would be affected by traffic once the Blu Harbor condominiums are complete. As the sole entrance and exit to the waterfront area, the Whipple Avenue overpass has become congested during rush hour as new residents move into the neighborhood, she said.
“We still don’t have all of the tenants or homeowners full time there yet and we are seeing a major traffic mess with just one way in and one way out,” she said. “I think we need to wait to see what happens with those projects which are already on the map.”
Commissioner Giselle Hale said she was encouraged to hear an effort to consider public transit routes to the waterfront area would be includ ed in the city’s transportation study, slated to be presented this fall.
“What’s great about this is it has density so the opportunity to put public transit there and have it get used is there,” she said.
Hale acknowledged alternatives devised in the study could take time to implement, and hoped the planners could look at short-term solutions in the meantime.
Commissioner Connie Guerrero said she hoped the developer would work with city staff to explore how the new units could also affect roads in nearby neighborhoods, such as the Centennial neighborhood, west of Highway 101 and north of Brewster Avenue.
“I know traffic is a concern throughout the city,” she said. “It’s always an issue and Whipple has gotten worse and worse.”
Commissioner Shawn White wondered if planners could consider expanding the entrances and exits to Whipple Avenue to two lanes, and also how a pedestrian and bicycle path under Highway 101 could facilitate non-car traffic in and out of the area. City planner Steven Turner said the city is targeting a completion of the underpass in 2019 as funds and a design for the underpass have already been identified.
White also asked planners to consider how noise from planes traveling to and from the San Carlos Airport, less than 3 miles north of the project, might affect potential residents after receiving several comments from current residents in the neighborhood.
“I would ask that both the approach and elevation of flights be a part of that conversation,” he said, adding that he would like to see alternate flights routes through the area as well.
Guerrero also hoped the housing units includ ed in the plans could includ e a mix of low-income and market-rate apartments since the project as proposed only includ es market-rate apartments.
City Planner Lisa Costa Sanders said the apartment building is expected to reach five stories and the fitness center is proposed at two stories and face the waterfront. She said below-ground and surface-level parking along with improvements to the Bay Trail and public access to the waterfront are also includ ed in the plans.
Commissioner Muhammad Safdari asked planners to think about how much surface-level parking would be needed for the project and whether surface parking could be converted into below-grade or garage parking to make way for more housing units.
Chair Nancy Radcliffe asked for further study of when those using the gym would travel through the area after residents expressed concerns gym traffic might correspond with rush hour.
Glen Ceridono, a representative of SyRes Properties, the developer, said the owners of the property are hoping to bring back places where families can find entertainment after the theater and the Malibu Grand Prix closed in recent years. Having previously operated the Century Park 12 theaters there, the developer is requesting an amendment to the city’s zoning to includ e residential use at the site because the project site’s current zone does not allow for residential uses currently.
“We’re kind of bringing that same sense of community and fun through the Villa Sport [gym project] and also trying to address the concerns of the community,” said Ceridono. “There’s a lot of stakeholders, [and] we want to hear from everyone.”