By Meghan Hall
First come jobs, then comes housing: It is a tale as old as time in the Bay Area, one that has continued to contribute to a huge shortage of housing across all product types within the multifamily spectrum. For the City of San Carlos, which is seeing the likes of major office investors like Alexandria Real Estate, Graymark Capital and Nuveen enter the market, millions of square feet of office space have been traded or proposed. Now, slowly but surely, residential development is following suit. 35 units of condominium housing were recently proposed near downtown San Carlos just off of El Camino Real at 626 Walnut Street.
The property’s developer, Dragonfly Group Inc., along with architecture firm workshop1, recently submitted a Preliminary Planning Application for the project, which will be up for consideration by the San Carlos City Council at a January 21st meeting.
According to project documents, the development will include 22 three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom units averaging about 1,818 square feet, three three-bedroom, two-bathroom units averaging 1,467 square feet, and nine four-bedroom, two-bathroom units at 1,843 square feet. 45 parking spaces and 2,303 square feet of commercial space are also indicated in the plans. The units will be open-plan with the ability to accommodate a wide variety of residents, including families. The residences will come equipped with outdoor space, laundry rooms, large windows and chef-style kitchens. Each unit will also have a corner orientation and exterior wall, which will in turn increase the number of windows and light within units.
Currently, the project site is comprised of three parcels; redevelopment will result in the demolition of existing buildings on each, including the demolition of a two-story commercial building, a two story-residential building and a single-story commercial building.
Documents indicate that the design of the project will largely be driven by the site context. The new development will be larger than buildings on surrounding lots, and so the project will be divided into two buildings connected by an open-air corridor to reduce its perceived bulk and scale. A landscaped plaza will extend from the sidewalk to the rear of the property to further separate the two buildings; the plaza itself will be publicly accessible in order to provide the two commercial spaces with additional, useable street frontage.
Materials and modulation will pull from a Mediterranean style and contemporary form. Terra cotta tiles and smooth-finished white plaster will be used on the project’s exterior, while black steel and wood will be applied to window trims, terraces, awnings and soffits as accents. A white colonnade will differentiate the commercial storefronts from ground floor residences.
In addition to 626 Walnut, several other multifamily projects are in the development pipeline in San Carlos—many of include condominiums and for-sale units, according to the City of San Carlos website. Just up the street from 626 Walnut is the 545 Walnut project, which was initially approved in January of 2016. However, the four-story, nine-unit residential project has yet to break ground. 520 El Camino Real includes nine condominium units and is currently under construction; Sun Carlos LLC is the developer. 1667 San Carlos Avenue is yet another for-sale development, which will bring six condominium units to market. The project was approved in March of 2017. One of the larger projects under construction, proposed by Veev and approved by the City, will bring 34 condominium units to market at the corner of Cherry Street and Chestnut Street.
However, large commercial and office projects are slated to bring hundreds of workers to San Carlos, workers who will likely be looking to minimize their commute. Pasadena, Calif.-based Alexandria Real Estate has proposed more than 1.6 million square feet of biotech space in San Carlos along Industrial and Old County Roads. In 2016, San Carlos approved a nearly 530,000 square foot Class A office complex at 887 Industrial Road, which is currently under construction.
Since 2013, the City has also been working to redevelop 6.26-acres that will include three commercial buildings and a public plaza in front of San Carlos’ Historic Depot. Upon completion, all are likely to bring numerous new residents and new life to the area.