A 112-room hotel may be coming to Redwood City—an effort that developers said could serve a growing market for corporate travelers and a need for more centrally located accommodations.
The proposed five-story Holiday Inn Express & Suites would replace the existing 22-room Garden Motel at 1690 Broadway in downtown Redwood City, according to project applicant and developer Viren Patel who resubmitted the final plans on April 11.
With final approval pending from the Planning Commission, Patel said he hopes to break ground this fall and open the hotel to guests in 2024. He estimated the total cost of the development to be around $12 million, including the demolition of the existing motel.
“We're trying to get rid of the blight,” said Patel, the registered agent for RWC Hospitality LP. “It's a very rundown motel. So we're gonna knock it down and put up something new, which will benefit the community.”
The plans include a 65,000-square foot hotel and a 14,329-square foot garage, with more than 100 parking spaces for cars and bikes.
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites, which occupies a 5,000-square foot space at the intersection of Beech Street and Broadway, would be the fourth largest hotel in Redwood City, after the 421-room Grand Bay San Francisco, the 177-room Courtyard Redwood City and the 126-room Good Nite Inn.
Patel began working on the project seven years ago, and in 2017 the city planning commission approved his proposal for a four-story hotel with 90 guest rooms. Wanting to maximize square footage, he submitted a new design in 2019 that expanded the hotel to its current proposed size. But when the pandemic hit the financing and permit Patel had secured for the hotel were lost.
But Patel said he was ultimately glad they didn't build during the pandemic, which “severely impacted corporate travel in Silicon Valley.”
Now, with new financing and recent surveys of airlines and travel firms showing a resurgence of work-related travel, Patel said he believes the hotel will meet a growing demand for local accommodation.
“The main economic driver is corporate travel,” he said, naming Box, Impossible Foods and Google as part of their target market. He also hopes to lodge visitors to Stanford’s Redwood City campus and Kaiser Permanente’s nearby location.
A member of the Chamber San Mateo County, Patel said he’s heard from restaurants who hope additional hotels will bring in more customers.
The need for more centrally located accommodations was articulated in the city’s Downtown Precise Plan, which includes space for up to 200 additional hotel rooms to be built downtown. Though the Holiday Inn Express & Suites—which sits just down the street from La Viga and outside the parameters of downtown—wouldn’t contribute directly to this quota, Patel said it would still increase room availability within the immediate area. In the last year, the county purchased three hotels in Redwood City, converting 220 guest rooms into transitional, long-term and senior housing.
The Holiday Inn would provide an economic benefit for the city by generating transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenue, which is used to fund city projects and services. In fiscal year 2019-2020, the city took in over $6 million in TOT, but because of reduced occupancy and room rates, that revenue dropped by 15% to a low point of $1.6 million during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tax revenues are expected to slowly recover in the coming years, according to staff estimates in the recent budget, which projects a 4.4% increase for 2022-2023 and a return to pre-pandemic levels around June 2024.
Guests currently pay a TOT rate of 12% of accommodation costs. Nightly rates are expected to start around $175 Monday through Thursday, with slightly lower costs during the weekend when business travel is slower.
The revised hotel plan was approved during a March 5, 2019 meeting of the City Planning Commission. Commissioners generally supported the building design, which—with the exception of a tower structure—complies with the 60-foot zoning district height limit but exceeds the four-story limit. Several concerns were raised by commissioners about sufficient parking accommodations, floodproofing for expected sea level rise and the definition of ‘community benefit’ to allow for height exceptions.
At the 2019 meeting, Commissioner Bill Shoe described the requirements for community benefits as “somewhat vague and lacking in rigor,” but added that increasing hotel availability in the downtown area seemed to be a priority for the city.
Commissioner Michael Smith called the project “a clear community benefit” that would serve as a “net positive from a development and design perspective for the neighborhood.”
Nick Corcoleotes, the owner of a business located near the proposed hotel, expressed conditional support for the hotel during the 2019 Planning Commission meeting. He was concerned that the inflow of new traffic would affect parking for his customers but added that he was “very happy that you’re building a hotel over there.”
“We think it’s time to improve this portion of Broadway,” he said.
The project is expected to be exempt from CEQA requirements.
Patel, whose family has owned the property for over 40 years, said it’s long been a dream of his mother’s to redevelop the existing hotel.