By Vladimir Bosanac

Charleston, SC-based Greystar is no stranger to Redwood City. But the company’s newest proposal for a massive mixed-use development on El Camino Real will look to redefine the Peninsula city and the company itself.

The proposal Greystar submitted to the city earlier this week calls for a six-block development that will include one residential structure that will encompass the full city block on El Camino Real and Maple Street, and five full city blocks of office space on the blocks in the general vicinity of Beech and Lathrop Streets in Redwood City. The development at completion will bring 589,700 square feet of office, 10,000 square feet of retail and a 10,000-square-foot child care facility. Along with the commercial component, Greystar is also proposing 272 multifamily residential units that include 37 low-income units.

The project is located in the southern portion of the El Camino Corridor, just south of Redwood City’s downtown core. The corridor is roughly bounded by El Camino Real and Caltrain and spans the north-south direction of the two. The location of the proposed development sits on six blocks that measure 8.3 acres. Most of the properties are owned by companies owned by Benjamin Kopf, president of Towne Ford and Hopkins Acura, which are still present on the site.

“The proposed community is in line with the current zoning and has been identified in the proposed El Camino Corridor Plan as an activity node which focuses on mobility, economic vitality, housing and placemaking. We have assembled 10 separate parcels to ensure there is sufficient scale to create a cohesive development in line with the objectives of the proposed corridor plan,” said Ali Warner, managing director at Greystar, Northern California and Pacific Northwest.

One parcel on the corner of Beech and Main streets is owned by Redwood City. Presumably, Greystar will be acquiring this parcel to complete the development, as well. In the proposal, Greystar is offering to create additional 23 affordable housing units on this site, providing an additional benefit and reason to the city to sell it at a reasonable price.

“Affordable housing is a focus for many communities in Northern California, and we are proud to provide affordable housing onsite. We are working collaboratively on a variety of solutions to support a broad range of individuals including teachers, service works, police and firemen,” said Warner.

Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Northern California, PGGM, Ivanhoé Cambridge, GIC, APG Asset Management, Monogram Real Estate, Bay Area, PGIM, Talus, Walnut Creek, SWA Group, WRNS Studio, BDE Architecture, San Francisco, Caltrain, El Camino Corridor, Peninsula, Redwood City, Greystar

Representatives from the City of Redwood City also did not respond to questions for comments in time of this publishing.

The developer is working with a team of designers on this project. San Francisco-based BDE Architecture is working on the multi-family development. WRNS Studio is the architect on the commercial buildings with SWA Group leading the landscaping design, while civil engineering will be driven by Walnut Creek—based Talus, Inc.

In the project proposal, the developer stated that the redevelopment site will further cit city’s goals for the revitalization of this corridor and support the city’s objectives of economic development and strength of small businesses in the area. The project is also consistent with the city’s General Plan and Zoning and will include a package of community benefits, such as the on-site affordable housing component.

One of the largest benefits to the city and the neighborhood is the proposed open and green space, which is planned to surround the entire development and run through the streets that connect the blocks. As a result, Beech Street is proposed to become a pedestrian corridor and would provide a walkable connection between El Camino and Main Street.

This focus away from cars is also taken into consideration in the overall planning. The project is proposing 2.8 stalls per 1,000 gross square feet (1,662 stalls in total), which is less than the city’s requirement, and using valet parking as a way to mitigate the reduced parking on site. In addition, the site sits on bus and Caltrain routes, adding the connectivity of the city as a major benefit to its location.

“Redwood City has been a focus for our division for many years. Culturally we operate in a limited number of markets, so we have the time to better understand how we can provide smart development that benefits both current and future residents. We are actively involved in a number of organizations within Redwood City that are focused on bettering the community,” Warner said, adding that the firm itself will have an expanded role in the location. “We will also be opening office space on Main Street in Redwood City this spring. The opportunities in Redwood City are the result of planning policies that are geared towards respecting the history of Redwood City while positioning for future generations.”

Greystar is primarily known as a national multifamily property owner and operator, and an office development would be a new venture for the company in the Bay Area. In Redwood City especially, the developer announced in September of 2017 that it was partnering with PGIM to develop a 350-unit apartment complex located at 1409 El Camino Real. In 2017, the company had a very active year: It spent $3 billion to acquire the Plano, TX-based Monogram Real Estate in partnership with Dutch pension capital investor APG Asset Management N.V., Singapore government foreign reserve manager GIC, Quebec-based Ivanhoé Cambridge and Dutch pension fund service provider PGGM. Monogram owned five Northern California multifamily assets at the time.

In August of 2017, the company spent $107 million to acquire the 192-unit apartment community Avana Sunnyvale located on 355 N. Wolfe Rd., which was preceded by a $35 million acquisition a vacant 13.3-acre parcel on Freedom Circle in Santa Clara with a goal to bring multifamily housing on the location.

The project is just at the very beginning of the process with the city. Application review and the environmental design and review will follow before public hearings and city council decisions are made.

Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Northern California, PGGM, Ivanhoé Cambridge, GIC, APG Asset Management, Monogram Real Estate, Bay Area, PGIM, Talus, Walnut Creek, SWA Group, WRNS Studio, BDE Architecture, San Francisco, Caltrain, El Camino Corridor, Peninsula, Redwood City, Greystar