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Redwood City takes up Stanford building proposals

The Redwood City Planning Commission's review of Stanford's proposed Redwood City redevelopment project begins today, Feb. 21, with a public hearing. The Planning Commission will review a draft environmental impact report and draft precise plan for a proposed 35-acre development off Highway 101.

Jennifer Mahoney/Perkins+Will Artist's rendering of the proposed project

Artist's rendering of the proposed Redwood City office building development project

BY KATE CHESLEY

Stanford's proposed Redwood City office building development project off Highway 101 will be discussed at a public hearing of the city's Planning Commission this evening, Feb. 21.

The Planning Commission will focus on the project's draft environmental impact report and draft precise plan, which are the next steps in the approval process for Stanford's development of a 1.5 million-square-foot complex for offices, medical clinics, and research and development.

The 35-acre development area is part of a larger 48-acre campus that includes recently renovated Stanford Hospital and Clinics buildings once occupied by Excite@Home. Among the outpatient clinics now located there are dermatology, imaging, orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine, pain management, and sleep medicine.

In 2005, Stanford Hospitals and Clinics purchased the four buildings that are now outpatient clinics, while the university bought the remaining eight in what was once the Mid-Point Technology Park. The university's purchase was prompted partly by its General Use Permit with Santa Clara County, which limits expansion on Stanford's main campus. As a result, the university began exploring the possibility of remotely locating some administrative offices in order to preserve the campus core for academic purposes.

Under Stanford's Redwood City plans, first proposed in 2008, eight existing office and research buildings would be demolished to make way for the redevelopment, which could include as many as 13 facilities under proposed plans. The existing buildings are currently occupied by such companies as Silver Spring Networks, Ampex, RockYou, BigBand Networks and MokaFive.

The new project is designed to accommodate employees who don't necessarily need close proximity to faculty and students, according to Lucy Wicks, assistant director of community relations in the Office of Government and Community Relations. Stanford will continue to lease space to non-Stanford users, as it does now. Non-Stanford tenants could also occupy the newly constructed buildings as the project is built over time.

"We currently have leases with a number of non-Stanford companies, and we plan to continue to offer space to these companies for the foreseeable future," Wicks said. "This, of course, could change as Stanford determines its need to redevelop or occupy space in the future."

The university's long-term plan would allow administrative departments to move to the site, which is 7 miles from the main campus. The redevelopment project is expected to be built over as many as 30 years, depending on the university's needs.

If approved, the project would include structured parking, amenities such as gyms and eateries, landscaping and open space, the use of recycled water and other sustainable building features, a transportation management program and enhancements for the local neighborhood streets.

Wicks said the Stanford project team has spent the past five years working closely with Redwood City officials and members of the local community to explain the university's plans and to solicit suggestions to ensure the project complements the city and community's priorities.

Stanford proposes to significantly increase the site's landscape areas, including additional open space in nearby Spinas Park. Improvements are also proposed for street intersections in the area to accommodate increased traffic. Shuttles and other transportation alternatives would be provided to reduce single-occupancy car trips. The university also has committed to integrating sustainable practices into the new buildings, Wicks said. The area is prone to flooding, and the university has also agreed to contribute to the cost of storm water improvements to the area.

Members of the public can review and comment on the environmental impact report and precise plan through March 12. Before construction begins, Redwood City will have to certify the project environmental impact report and adopt the precise plan, which would include rezoning.