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About the Redwood LIFE Proposal

Redwood LIFE Proposal Overview

  • Longfellow and PGIM real estate developers are proposing to redevelop Redwood LIFE, formerly known as Westport technology campus, located along Marine Parkway between Bridge and Shell Parkways.
  • The proposed development would replace the existing 20 two-story buildings with 15 five- to six-story buildings, most standing over 100 feet tall and some up to 148 feet, adding 2.4 million square feet of life science office space, employing up to 7,000 people.
  • This project would be built in seven phases over a 15 to 25 year period.

What is being proposed?

Existing Structure

Current day Redwood LIFE
Building height of existing Redwood LIFE facility

What Parts of the Proposal Does Save the Shores Oppose?

The following are significant concerns from a report by the City Redwood City that Save the Shores believes are critical for the community to know:

The City’s written response indicates that the construction of the new improvements will require penetration through the refuse layer (clay cap) as a result of the “deep foundation systems”.  Destroying this cap will release toxic chemicals into the bay waters and air. 

It is anticipated that tenants may only utilize Biosafety level (BSL) 1 or 2 lab facilities, but may possibly house research activities up to biosafety level 3.

BSL-1 is designated for working with microbes that don’t cause disease in healthy humans. 

BSL-2 is for labs that work with pathogens. 

BSL-3 laboratories are used to study infectious agents or toxins that may be transmitted through the air and cause potentially lethal infections. Adjacency to residences,schools and sensitive ecosystems, as well as  lack of comprehensive regulations and enforcement for private BSL3 labs is particularly concerning.

Levee improvements for Redwood Shores are urgently needed in the near future to prevent flooding, but it is unclear how the Redwood LIFE proposed levee improvement plan will integrate with the surrounding area that also needs to be raised. The proposed land grading of the site does not account for the sea level rise at the edges of the site. The public roadway will need to be raised to ensure that the surrounding levee meets the end of century sea level elevations. This will also cause the proposed parks to have diminished views of the bay, and it is expected that those areas would be filled as well.

It is unclear how the rooftop runoff is being captured to prevent flooding and the water can be utilized.  Elevating land grading could create flooding problems for lower lying residential communities.

Due to the height of the proposed buildings and the proximity of residential developments and sensitive ecosystem near the project site, efforts to reduce excessive lighting and glare and comply with dark sky complaint requirements are necessary.

The plans propose the removal of 1,476 trees, but city staff is requesting more trees be added along pathways and sidewalks and parking lots to protect pedestrians and provide more shade. More consideration needs to be given to how the project has incorporated bird safe design with building materials and  bird safe glass for windows/glazing; there appears to be up to 13 types of glass proposed for the various buildings.

The traffic in Redwood Shores, on Ralston Avenue in Belmont, and along Highway 101 is often congested and grid locked. This congestion will only worsen with the many development projects already built and planned for in San Carlos and Foster City. A project the size of this one, in Redwood Shores with its two entrance/exit points, would add more traffic than the area can support.

The addition of thousands of employees and guests to the already heavily populated mix of residents and workers would further burden overstressed personnel and services. In the event of an emergency, an earthquake, or other natural disaster, vital services would have difficulty reaching communities quickly enough to offer assistance and prevent further harm.  Fire and emergency crew responses are impacted by the use of hazardous materials in BSL3 labs.

The proposed buildings are two to three times higher than the existing structures and add over 2 million square feet of office space in a peaceful residential area and adjacent to the Belmont Slough. Loud rooftop generators and HVAC systems add to the height of buildings and disturb neighbors and wildlife. Gas battery back-ups contribute to greenhouse gasses.  The increase in the number of offices and labs will require increased power and water demands and place additional burden on sewer capacity. Increased waste generation from single-use plastics negatively impacts our environment.

Redevelopment Proposal Estimated Timeline