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Real Estate Bisnow
January 3, 2012 
Redwood City's Big Test


Two years ago, Redwood City issues a Downtown Precise Plan to guide its downtown growth. The Plan offers clear and concise rules for future development. Well, the first large project under its purview is now under way. (Seems easier to follow than our New Year's diet plan. How many points is an entire pizza again?)


This morning, we chatted with Raintree Partners development director Jason Check, left, with CEO Jeff Allen and acquisitions chief Aaron Hancock. Their project is the 116-unit apartment 201 Marshall. Even though the Downtown Precise Plan was still in flux when the company began looking at the site, it was what attracted Raintree to Redwood City. The plan is a new type of zoning that lays out a clear path for entitling projects that conform to specified guidelines. “It takes a lot of the unknowns out of the entitlement process… and allows you to get a project under construction relatively quickly.” Raintree was able to complete entitlements and start construction in little more than a year.

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Designed by TCA Architects, 201 Marshall will contain studios, one- and two-bedroom units as well as live/work units on the ground floor. While the seven-story project is very urban for Redwood City, one of the plan’s goals is a vibrant, walkable downtown, allowing for this higher-density construction. Completion is slated for spring 2014. Jason anticipates residents will be young professionals commuting to employment hubs in downtown San Francisco and San Jose, as well as local workers in Redwood City attracted to the neighborhood’s restaurants and nightlife. The project is a stone’s throw from a Caltrain station. And Raintree convinced Zipcar to open a location across the street.

In his spare time, Jason likes to get around by sailboat. 201 Marshall also will offer a bike repair workshop and bike lockers, as well as a telecommuting center. It's Raintree’s first ground-up development in the Bay Area. This year, the company will launch construction on two projects in San Francisco of 70 and 100 units, and is in the entitlement phase on another one on the Peninsula. The company also owns communities in Sunnyvale, Concord, and Livermore.

Rising From The Earthquake
Remember this building? If you weren’t here before the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, chances are good that you don’t. The Embassy Theater was heavily damaged in 1989 and subsequently razed. MacFarlane Partners has purchased the site at 1125 Market St for $7.8M. Plans call for a 125-foot apartment tower—actual number of units TBD—with 3,500 SF of ground-floor retail. It’s the last remaining vacant lot in the rapidly gentrifying Mid-Market area, just east of the old Strand Theater (1127 Market), which the American Conservatory Theater purchased last year to open a 300-seat venue in fall 2014.
Mid-Market is the place to be and will be a vibrant part of the City by 2015, according to MacFarlane president Greg Vilkin, who spoke on our multifamily panel last fall. (What a difference Twitter made by moving into the once-sketchy area.) The TOD will incorporate smart growth and new urbanism elements. Come to think of it, the whole area between Mid-Market and Upper Market toward the Castro District is hot right now, as evidenced by MacFarlane's currently topping out a 113-unit apartment project at 1844 Market in the latter.
What are your New Year's resolutions? (Ours is not to make any resolutions we know we won't keep.) Julie@bisnow.com.
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