Aside from posts that I’ve written on San Carlos Schools, the proposed Wheeler Plaza project is easily the most read and commented topic on this site. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Wheeler Plaza is a city-owned parcel that’s outlined in the picture above. You’ll recognize this area as the parking lot behind Le Boulanger and Wells Fargo, and it includes some surrounding structures. Last year, the City of San Carlos started the wheels turning (no pun intended) to gather ideas on how to develop this area into a mixed retail/living complex. To see all of the posts on this site about Wheeler Plaza, click here. There’s also some good info on the City of San Carlos website.
The latest development happened earlier this year when the City chose Silverstone Communities as the design and development firm. Silverstone has lots of experience with projects like these, as they recently completed similar high-end projects in Millbrae and Los Altos. Silverstone was a smart choice — they’re based in Redwood City, so they’re local and they understand the unique vibe that makes San Carlos what it is.
This past week, I sat down with Jeff Gilman, Silverstone’s Director of Acquisitions. Jeff is spearheading a project to gather community feedback on how Wheeler Plaza could best serve the City of San Carlos (more on that below.) From his research, which includes all of your comments on this site, Jeff is keenly aware how sensitive this topic is, and he also understands that there are misconceptions that surround Wheeler Plaza. So part of the information-gathering phase is also to set some of these perceptions straight.
Here are my notes from my meeting with Jeff…
It’s an idea, not a project.
This is probably the most important point that the City and Silverstone are trying to get across. Right now, the renovation of Wheeler Plaza is just an idea that the City is considering. No plans have been made, and nothing has been committed to this idea to date, short of Silverstone’s involvement to gather information. The City could very easily decide to do nothing at this point… But it’s obvious that whatever they do, they want community input and consensus, which is good.
Vision and Design
In it’s most basic form, the city envisions Wheeler Plaza as a multi-level residential/retail complex. Even though no plans have been drawn, there are some parameters that will likely be adhered to:
- Condos, not apartments. Most likely, the residential side of the complex will be “for sale”, not rentals. Current figure is approximately 100 units.
- Parking. There are currently 187 parking slots in the existing parking lot. Any new project will need to preserve this number, at a minimum.
- Asthetics. Key consideration will be made to blend the structure in to the surroundings, such as intelligent use of setbacks and gradual height increase, so that it will not be a huge, looming structure.
- No change to Laurel Street. Since the existing buildings that face Laurel Street (WFB, Le Boulanger, etc..) are not part of the project, there will be no change to the storefronts on Laurel.
What about the Schools?
In light of the enrollment crunch this fall with several San Carlos elementary schools, the impact on adding more living space will likely be one of the biggest objections to this idea. But according to demographic studies that Silverstone has conducted, it’s only expected that 8-10% of these units will be occupied by families with school age children. So if these calculations hold true, the impact on school enrollment should be minimal. And if you factor in the school fees that this structure will generate, there may indeed a silver lining for the San Carlos School District.
Over the next 90 days or so, Silverstone will be conducting some community outreach exercises to get input on the future of Wheeler Plaza — a listening phase, for lack of a better term. If you’re interested in expressing your opinion on Wheeler Plaza, Jeff welcomes you to send him an email at this address:
As always, feel free to post your comments on this site as well. I’ll be sure to keep you posted as things progress…
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