A Transformational Opportunity

Frequently Asked Questions

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Redwood City Planning Process:

The Transit District is a sub-area of the Downtown Precise Plan and will create shopping, jobs and housing with a new transit center and regional hub for trains and buses in the heart of Downtown. The redevelopment of the Transit District creates a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild the train station with space for track expansion, station amenities, electrification and safer grade separations. New housing and jobs would be created along with neighborhood shopping that features Safeway and CVS and other community amenities. The redevelopment of Sequoia Station is the key that unlocks several primary components of the Transit District Plan, including providing Caltrain almost one acre of right-of-way, which is required to accommodate Caltrain’s 2040 Service Vision, while maintaining access to Safeway and CVS. Without the partnership of Sequoia Station, the Transit District Plan is not viable.

The Sequoia Station project application will run concurrently with the Transit District process but cannot be approved until after the Transit District Plan is complete. The Transit District planning effort and environmental review may be completed by Fall 2022, and the Sequoia Station application will be considered thereafter.

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Project Purpose:

Sequoia Station is a frequently used but outdated and car-centric shopping center. The redevelopment of the Sequoia Station Shopping Center is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to become a regional transit and jobs hub by dedicating an expanded right of way for Caltrain, putting jobs directly on transit, reimagining neighborhood retail, as well as creating a vibrant and walkable public realm that connects to Downtown, and providing much-needed housing—including hundreds of affordable homes.

This is an opportunity to connect Redwood City neighborhoods and expand the downtown core through a new, vibrant, walkable and bikeable transit-focused development. In addition to the significant transportation improvements that this development would unlock, this would be Redwood City’s largest affordable housing development—with 254 homes for very-low-, low-and moderate-income families. Growing employment centers adjacent to mass-transit will support Redwood City’s environmental sustainability and economic goals while also allowing SamTrans and Caltrain to achieve their long-term service vision. Caltrain’s long-term expansion plans will significantly improve the region’s rail infrastructure.

Multiple retail tenants, transit partners, property owners and development stakeholders are aligned in this moment to reinvent Sequoia Station and the Redwood City Transit District. Sequoia Station is a vital neighborhood retail center, and it is essential that the community maintains access to Safeway and CVS throughout construction. The proposed project will use a phased approach that will enable Safeway and CVS to remain open during construction. The dedication of approximately one acre of land to accommodate transit improvements also reduces the amount of development that can occur, as there is less land available for construction. Redevelopment creates the opportunity for this dedication and relocation of Safeway and CVS. Without it, these structures stand in the way of Redwood City’s new train station.

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Project Overview:

Lowe and Eden Housing are excited to team up for this once-in-a-generation opportunity. Between them, they have over 100 years of development experience. Lowe has over 48 years of investment, development, and management experience in large office, mixed-use, retail, and residential projects. Eden Housing has over 50 years of experience developing and managing affordable housing developments throughout California and is one of California’s largest affordable housing providers.

Today, Sequoia Station is an aging, surface-parked neighborhood shopping center with Safeway and CVS as its anchor retailers. The site also provides Redwood City residents access to Caltrain, but the layout is outdated and car-centric. There is no easy route to walk or bike to Sequoia Station retailers or the Caltrain Station, or to cross over to the Downtown entertainment district from the west.

Some of the key project highlights for the proposed Sequoia Station redevelopment include:

  • Approximately one acre of dedicated land along the train tracks for Caltrain’s track infrastructure, and a future Downtown Redwood City Caltrain station.
  • Up to 631 residential units on-site, including approximately 254 deed-restricted very-low, low, and moderate-income residential homes.
  • Approximately 10,000 SF on-site childcare facility.
  • Improved bike lanes, an indoor public bike storage barn and new walkable and bikeable streets within the development and along El Camino Real.
  • Four blocks of office above retail, transit-served with underground parking.
  • Two new public plazas which will connect Downtown with the western neighborhoods and a future train station.
  • Modern neighborhood-serving retail and upgraded Safeway and CVS stores.

The proposed project will conform to all height limits as reflected in the Downtown Precise Plan. We have designed the project to have varying building heights throughout.

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Construction Process:

We anticipate the Transit District planning process will continue through 2021 and 2022, with possible review of the Sequoia Station proposal in late 2022. Assuming a proposal is approved then, Phase 1 construction could begin in 2023 and take 2-3 years to complete.

There would be multiple phases of development to enable Safeway and CVS to remain open. Once the first phase of buildings is completed, Safeway and CVS will move to the ground floor spaces and Phase 2 can begin.

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We are currently proposing 631 total homes, with 254, over 40%, intended to be deed-restricted affordable homes. This is an increase of 406 homes since the original proposal. Almost half of the affordable homes will be two- and three-bedroom with 102 homes proposed to be at very-low Income levels, 130 at low-income, and 22 at moderate income levels. Lowe and Eden’s proposal includes nearly double the amount of required affordable housing per the Downtown Precise Plan.

This proposal seeks to address major community needs—housing, transportation, and children and youth. The office development must be adequate to subsidize the significant number of onsite affordable homes, land dedication for transit improvements, childcare, underground parking to enable superior placemaking, and new retail improvements. The cost to construct any multi-family home—market-rate or affordable—is approximately $750,000 per home. The proposal has worked to decrease leasable office square footage while maintaining the financial feasibility to attract capital that enables the project, and resulting community benefits, to move forward.

Partnerships with non-profit affordable housing developers can unlock a number of tools that maximize the amount of housing at the deepest levels of affordability, as well as types of resident services. Eden Housing is a premier affordable housing developer with over 50 years of experience in delivering projects that are a long-term asset for the communities they build in.

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Retail and Office:

Yes! Throughout the phased construction CVS, Safeway, and many other retailers will remain open. Existing retailers may choose to move from their existing location into new spaces after the first phase of construction is completed, however, those details are still under discussion.

We believe that offices at prime locations adjacent to transit will remain in very high demand. Many of the region’s tenants are choosing to locate on transit, so that their employers can have easier commutes.

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Transportation and Parking:

We will be adding more spaces to accommodate the new uses. The level of retail parking will remain. However, due to the direct proximity to transit, we are proposing a reduction in parking for office and residential uses as more people walk, bike, and ride the local bus and train network.

Enhancing the bike and pedestrian experience is central to the redevelopment of the site. Part of this effort includes relocating the surface parking underground and moving vehicle ramps along the perimeter of the property in order to open up the public plazas for bikes and people—not cars. The Sequoia Station redevelopment will also implement several policies from the El Camino Corridor Plan, such as intersection improvements at James/El Camino and Jefferson/El Camino, separated bike lanes, extra-wide sidewalks, and limited driveway cuts. A major goal of the development is to create a highly walkable and bikeable community with access for all.

Transit-oriented, mixed-use development is key to minimizing traffic impacts. The ability to unlock land for the Caltrain expansion and SamTrans redesign is critical to increase service and capacity, getting vehicles off the roadways both locally and regionally. Traffic will be studied, and mitigations will be proposed as a part of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) the city is conducting with its consultants this year.

A key aspect of this proposal is to move the Caltrain property line to accommodate additional track right-of-way (ROW). This critical part of Caltrain’s 2040 expansion plans will allow Caltrain to expand into four tracks from the current two and will allow for a future elevated train station in Downtown Redwood City. The redevelopment of Sequoia Station will provide almost one acre for this ROW expansion, without which the city could not accommodate Caltrain’s 2040 service vision.

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Community Benefits and Feedback:

In addition to the Caltrain land dedication, the project would provide important community benefits, including both market-rate housing and hundreds of much-needed affordable housing units. Redwood City residents would also enjoy new family-friendly retail and entertainment, two large and inviting public open spaces, walkable and bikeable streets that connect downtown to the neighborhoods, on-site childcare, and a vastly improved and activated shopping and parking experience.

Yes! Since the original proposal, the project has reduced office by 170,000 SF, increased housing by almost three times from 225 to 631 homes, increased the number of affordable homes from up to 225 to 254, added a 10,000 SF childcare space, and added 4,000 SF of community event space, and much more!

The Sequoia Station development team has participated in nearly 30 community meetings since the start of this project. We value these discussions and would be happy to speak with as many members of the community as possible. Please contact us for a personal or group meeting. We want to hear your feedback and value your input!

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