Redwood City Downtown Precise Plan Update

Wondering what’s next for the City of Redwood City Downtown area?

Recently, the City Council held a study session to discuss the implementation of the Downtown Precise Plan (DTTP). The DTPP describes the vision for the future of Downtown, regulates private development, and recommends potential future City projects. This blog post provides an update on the implementation of the DTPP and City Council suggestions for future actions.

During the study session, the City Council provided feedback on next steps for implementing the goals in the DTPP. The following topics are described further below:

· Downtown parks and open space

· Architecture

· Bicycle and pedestrian improvements

· Criteria for consideration of developments that exceed development caps

· Creation of a Downtown Precise Plan Phase 2 task force

Additionally, later this summer, the City Council will discuss how to increase retail and hotel uses downtown, two categories allowed under the Downtown Precise Plan that have not generated significant market interest to date. To follow this issue, make sure to check the City’s webpage here for updates.

Downtown Parks: Based on City Council direction, the City will be evaluating the creation of a Downtown park. The City has received a considerable amount of park impact fees to help create a new park; this funding was not available prior to downtown development. To assist with this effort, the City received proposals for a consultant to begin a Downtown park site assessment study. The Parks and Recreation Commission, City Council and the public will be involved in the study implementation. In addition to a Downtown park, the City is evaluating opportunities for additional green space throughout the Downtown.

Architecture: The DTPP allows for a variety of architectural styles. Traditional architectural styles are required in most areas of the Downtown core, however contemporary (modern) architecture is allowed outside the core area (north of Marshall Street). In order to achieve a balance of architectural styles in the Downtown area, future buildings will be required to feature traditional designs. The City is advising all recent applicants that they should design to the other architectural styles allowed under the DTPP. Before the end of the year, the City Council will consider a DTPP amendment removing contemporary architecture as an option for new development downtown.

In addition, the historic courthouse building is unique in that some of its historical significance comes from the prominence of the dome. Although increased setbacks are required, the DTPP currently allows development on certain parcels adjacent to the courthouse building to exceed the height of the dome. The City Council will consider a height limit amendment for parcels adjacent to the historical courthouse building later this year.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements: Another area of discussion was prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian improvements in the Downtown area. The Citywide Transportation Plan will be recommending specific measures that can be taken to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in the Downtown area and other areas of the City. The Plan is expected to be reviewed by the City Council later this year. The El Camino Corridor Plan and Broadway Streetcar Study will present additional opportunities for Council action. In addition to these studies, the City will be conducting the environmental review required to close Theatre Way to automobile traffic (other than emergency vehicles and occasional deliveries) on an ongoing basis. This review will be completed and a proposal will be brought forward for review by the Complete Street Advisory Committee and consideration by the City Council in early 2018.

Process for Exceeding Downtown Development Caps: The DTPP specifies maximum allowable development for certain development categories: market rate and affordable residential, office, retail and hotel. While there is still available space in the affordable housing, retail and hotel categories, the office and market-rate residential categories are near the limit. However, interest in additional office and market rate development remains. A process is being developed for the City Council to review projects that exceed the cap early in the development review stage. The City Council will consider developments that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Onsite Affordable Housing: For housing developments that exceed the development cap, they should contain a minimum of 20% affordable housing.
  • Affordable Housing Contributions: All development, including non-housing developments, are expecting to contribute to affordable housing in a meaningful way.
  • Park Space: Commercial developments on large parcels should contain park space to the maximum extent possible. Park space should be open to the public and add to the network of parks and open space in the Downtown and surrounding areas.
  • Investment On Main Street: Development that focuses on areas where private investment has not recently occurred will also be considered. Main Street was given as a specific example. However, this will also have to be coupled with other benefits to the nearby community.

DTPP Phase 2 Task Force: The adoption of the Downtown Precise Plan in 2011 resulted from a community-driven process that began with the creation of a community task force chaired by two residents in 1998. Based on City Council feedback, a DTPP Phase 2 Task Force will be assembled in early 2018. This community task force would help set the vision for the next phase of the DTPP, including potential revisions to the development standards and guidelines, increases to the development caps and changes to the DTPP boundaries.

To review the Study Session staff report, go here.

For more information about the Downtown Precise Plan, go here.

To learn about Downtown Redwood City, go here.