Redwood City seeks downtown proposals

After a two-month delay, Redwood City officials have formally issued a Request for Proposals for the development of a 2.3acre plot in the city’s downtown.

On May 23, Redwood City’s council members directed planning staff to craft a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Block 2 and a surface parking lot bordered by Jefferson Avenue, Middlefield
Road and Caltrain tracks.

Lured by a development-friendly blueprint and an economy on the mend, several developers have expressed interest in the site, including TMG Partners, Essex Property Trust and Hunter/Storm LLC. The Sobrato Organization of San Jose reportedly is also looking at the property.

The RFP was supposed to go out the week of June 20 but was postponed due to questions over which city entity would actually be selling the property, according to Dan Zack, Redwood City’s downtown development coordinator. The delay doesn’t seem to have dampened enthusiasm for the site, according to Zack, who said the level of interest from developers “is hot.”

The land was initially supposed to be sold through Redwood City’s redevelopment agency but when the agency’s future recently came into question, officials proposed to amend the city’s charter so that the decision on who would develop the property wouldn’t be based on the highest bid alone.

At that time, Zack said the city wanted to ensure that it could still pick who it would sell the land to based not only the highest bid, “but who can build the best project” for the community.

Last week, the Redwood City Council voted to keep the RDA alive so the land could be sold through the agency if need be. But for now, the city is keeping its options open.

“If the Charter amendment — which would allow the city to sell land based on qualifications rather than highest bidder — passes in November, then we can sell it through the City if that makes more sense,” Zack said. “We don’t need to commit at this stage.”

The Request for Proposal officially went out on August 30. Statement of qualifications will be
accepted through October 17.

The city’s plan allows for 12story buildings but does not dictate specific uses. Housing, office, retail and entertainment will all be considered, although underground parking and specific design criteria are required.

The 90day RFQ selection process will also include a second available site across the street from Block 2 on Winslow Street. In its RFP, the city described the two parcels as being “directly adjacent to one of the busiest Caltrain stations on the Peninsula.”