By Meghan Hall
A Redwood City historic hotel and landmark is getting a facelift, one that looks to preserve its history while preparing for the future of hospitality. The revamp of The Sequoia Hotel was originally proposed in February of this year, and property owners Sequoia Main Street LLC and Beals Martin, as well as architecture firm Hornberger + Worstell, are working to finalize their application.
“In recognition of the Sequoia Hotel’s integral connection to the city and its beloved place in its history, the proprietors of the Sequoia Hotel are dedicated to the historical preservation of the hotel’s grand exterior,” project documents explain. “Through their preservation efforts, they will tell a story to the current and future generations of visitors to the hotel.”
The revamped hotel will feature 83 guest rooms, as well as a fitness center, bar and outdoor terrace. A restaurant space, as well as 3,700 square feet of meeting room, lobby and wine room space, are also designated in the plans. The wine room will be a temperature-controlled wine cellar encasing a private dining room which can be used as private event space. The meeting rooms will also be available for civic and nonprofit communities. Proposed uses include yoga classes, book clubs and art classes.
The project’s restaurant space will be dubbed “Eureka Brewery” in honor of the site’s history, and the restaurant will feature casual design as well as both indoor and outdoor seating. A crescent-shaped bar will connect the lobby to the restaurant and foyer, which will feature a circular settee, pulling from the hotel’s original grandeur.
The project team hopes the plans will usher the hotel into the modern era. Constructed as a luxury hotel in 1912, it has always been located in the city’s commercial district. The Sequoia Hotel was constructed to replace the Eureka Hotel–Redwood City’s first hotel–that was originally constructed in 1854 and later operated as a brewery before its demolition. Project documents explain that The Sequoia Hotel is the only surviving hotel of its era remaining.
“While the Sequoia appears to be the sole survivor of that era, it no longer functions as an “impressive” hotel,” states a project presentation. “The hotel’s locally-based ownership have a vision to restore the historic landmark to its “impressive” hotel status, returning this grand hotel back to downtown Redwood City.”
Much of the project’s design will involve updating and preserving the existing structure. Exterior restoration, as well as the careful removal of paint on The Sequoia Hotel’s facade, will take place. A light well at the center of the building, from the roof top to the second floor, will allow natural light to permeate through the structure. A stained glass dome will top the meeting and event space at the ground level and is intended to serve as a visually striking centerpiece. Public art concepts from murals to sculptures and three-dimensional brick art, are also being considered.
Plans for The Sequoia Hotel continue to take shape, even as fundamentals for the hotel industry remain mixed. However, local firms are confident in The Sequoia Hotel’s future, believing demand from their own companies will bolster business.
“As a global 50 law firm, we have offices and clients all over the world,” said Karrie McElheny, of Goodwin Proctor Silicon Valley. “Our clients and attorneys regularly come to Redwood City and there is no suitable hotel within walking distance to our office. The idea of a boutique luxury hotel in downtown is music to our ears.”
Mary Anne Zarellie, a Senior Director at Oracle concurred, adding, “With over 152,000 employees worldwide, we typically have 2,000‐3,000 employees coming to the bay area every month. We always have a need for hotel space.”
Data from CBRE Hotel Research is forecasting an average national occupancy level of 43 percent during the first half of 2021. By the end of the year, occupancy is expected to reach about 55.1 percent. In the Bay Area, metropolitan cities are still recording occupancy below pre-pandemic levels, but CBRE believes recovery is on the horizon. Oakland is expected to have 53 percent occupancy, while San Jose and San Francisco are expected to see occupancy of about 51 percent and 43 percent, respectively.
“The quicker-than-anticipated national rollout of COVID-19 vaccines coupled with the December COVID Relief Bill have improved the outlook for the U.S. hotels market. We expect hotels and drive-to destination resort areas catering to leisure travelers to continue to see the fastest gains in occupancy,”said Julie Purnell, executive vice president, CBRE Hotels Advisory in a statement. “We anticipate business travel to pick up in the latter half of the year, benefitting urban and suburban upper-priced properties.”
Before becoming reality, however, The Sequoia Hotel will need to complete the bulk of the entitlements process, including environmental and design reviews. The project will also need to be reviewed by the Secretary of Interior Standards, and apply for architectural, use, sign and planned community permits and earn others final approvals.
As of this writing, Hornberger + Worstell had not yet returned The Registry’s request for comment.