OED Business Development Team takes a field trip on the Peninsula
Led by Chris Burton, OED Deputy Director, and Blage Zelalich, OED Downtown Manager, seven members of OED’s business development team toured noted development projects in San Mateo County.
Taking the train from Diridon Station to Redwood City, we were amazed at how close the downtown area was to the station. We walked through downtown Redwood City and here are some of our thoughts:
”Very nice high quality multi-family housing units recently built and more under construction. It seems that very few (if any) are being set aside as “affordable” which seems to be very common throughout the region. The Caltrain station is literally steps from the heart of the downtown.”
“Two gorgeous Beaux Arts glass and copper gazebos bracketing the open plaza at Courthouse Square were striking, but underutilized as they don’t have the water supply or other infrastructure for permanent retail usage. Kudos to the City for preserving them!”
“Liked the cafe society street scene – clearly, a magnet for people.”
“ I was impressed by the diversity of business activity within the downtown and the effort devoted to urban design.”
After a short trip on Caltrain to Hillsdale, we visited Hillsdale Shopping Center, where we were were hosted by the conscientious and personable Christine Kupczak, CRX, the center’s long-time Marketing Director. Insights from the Business Development team:
”The main mall retained its flavor of a 1960-70s-era shopping center, while the new section of the mall, just being completed, is stunning and will be a real destination for the Peninsula. The owners have made a real long term commitment to the community. Also very impressed with the mall ownership commitment to host community events. Having a Caltrain stop just a few minutes from the mall is a great asset and hopefully will get people out of their cars.”
“There are some real advantages to having a mall that has been family-
owned for decades – for instance, not allowing kiosks in the public areas makes for a palpably better shopping experience.”
“I look forward to seeing how Hillsdale Mall revitalizes the greater San Mateo area and using it as a case study to develop community-forward projects in the future.”
“I was impressed by the attention Hillsdale Mall was giving to the changing nature of malls and what they offer as well as their incredible architecture and landscape design. I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product.”
Bay Meadows is an ambitious transit-oriented, master planned neighborhood right across the railroad tracks from Hillsdale Shopping Center. We were given a tour by Ronald Munekawa, Chief of Planning for the City of San Mateo. The project has just completed its second major phase including several extensive multi-family complexes, a high school, a park and a stretch of office buildings with ground-floor retail.
“Impressed that the plan for the project includes moving the train station northwards in order to maximize the transit and traffic flows so critical to this housing-intensive development.”
“The buildings were interestingly designed, with and urban form and mass.”
“The engaging outdoor Fieldwork Brewing beer garden had been set up using temporary arbor and shade construction, fencing and containers, creating an obviously popular activation in a central area of the office/retail frontage. It was done with a minimum of bureaucracy, according to Munekawa.”
In all, the day was an excellent way to create first-hand impressions of three very different projects, each with a significant economic and social impact on its own city. That we could access all three easily in one day, using rail transit, was one more message that was not lost on the Business Development team attending this instructive field trip.