The Lane on the Boulevard – Redwood City’s Pipeline Grows Despite Impending Development Caps

The Registry

March 15, 2015

Talk of possibly cutting back on residential construction in Redwood City is not stopping housing developers from continuing to pursue potential projects in a town flush with news construction.

SummerHill Apartment Communities just finished The Lane on the Boulevard, a 141-unit luxury rental complex at 2580 El Camino Real in Redwood City, and is looking to do more in this mid-Peninsula community, which seemingly overnight has also become a hot market for office space.

At the same time, Butler Realty LLC’s eight-story, 91-unit building downtown at 204 Franklin St., is the newest project to make it into the planning pipeline and could break ground by year-end if approved.

“We’re focused on infill sites near transit and jobs up and down the Peninsula as well as the South Bay and East Bay,” said Katia Kamangar, the executive vice president of San Ramon-based SummerHill Housing Group, the umbrella organization for the apartment developer. “Redwood City is definitely one of our key focus areas. So we’re looking at potential future opportunities in Redwood City.”

That long-term interest in Redwood City comes despite the fact that city leaders are mulling having less residential development in favor of more office construction within the business core than what is now considered under the Downtown Precise Plan.

The proposal reduces the number of apartments units from 2,500 to about 1,800 while bumping office development from 500,000 to more than 600,000 square feet in the downtown neighborhood. City leaders say downtown still has plenty of room for residential growth but the amount for offices is already at capacity based on the precise plan.

SummerHill is monitoring the situation, Kamangar said, but “our view is it’s good for the city to have a jobs-to-housing balance, so it’s understandable that they’re looking at that. It makes for a healthy city.”

The company remains “interested in Redwood City,” she added. “It’s a great area for us.”

Office developers are saying the same thing, citing the city’s burgeoning downtown, proximity to transit and other amenities. In the past several months, office proposals targeting downtown have been flooding the city, including Menlo Park-based Lane Partners’ 180,000-square-foot project at 2075 Broadway and Palo Alto-based Dostart Development’s plan to replace existing commercial buildings and surface parking with a new 136,500-square-foot complex at 601 Marshall St.

The new proposals would follow a major downtown Class A office project under way since 2013—the 300,000-square-foot Crossing/900 by Los Angeles-based Kilroy Realty Corp. and Cupertino-based Hunter Storm, which was leased by cloud content management provider Box, Inc. Elsewhere in the city, San Francisco-based Jay Paul Co. is eyeing a high-tech office campus of more than 1 million square feet off Highway 101 on the site of the former Malibu Grand Prix go-kart track and miniature golf course.

The city’s residential pipeline is also gushing with projects completed, under way or proposed. But even with the proposed lower cap in apartment development, Redwood City Community Development Director Aaron Aknin said, the city would still have capacity for residential projects both within downtown and areas just outside it.

Right now, he said, downtown has 1,388 units that are completed, being built or planned—still comfortably below the current cap of 2,500.

The neighborhood where the The Lane is located is an example of an area near downtown that can still accommodate residential projects.

“We think it’s an excellent location,” Kamangar said.

SummerHill developed The Lane with national architecture and planning firm KTGY Group Inc. Leasing started in the fall, Kamangar said, and the building is currently 75 percent occupied. She declined to give the project’s total cost.

The project’s name is a nod to Mel’s Bowl, which previously occupied the site. The Lane features a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom units. Each apartment includes a gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances, an in-unit washer and dryer and a balcony or patio. The complex also provides electric-vehicle charging stations, a swimming pool with a spa, and numerous other modern conveniences.

“While The Lane on the Boulevard is packed with amenities, the ability to walk to shopping, dining and entertainment plus parks make the location on El Camino perhaps its best amenity,” KTGY’s Jessica Musick, the project’s lead designer, said in a news release. “And The Lane’s El Camino Real location on the ‘Grand Boulevard’ is one mile from downtown Redwood City’s Caltrain station, entertainment and restaurants, with convenient access to Highways 101 and 280 via Woodside Road.”