As city builds the future, it must preserve the past
Daily News Staff Writer
July 29, 2005
Just two blocks east of El Camino Real, a row of hundred-year-old homes stands as a reminder of Redwood City’s working-class roots.
As downtown redevelopment continues, residents are asking the city to keep those changes from damaging the Centennial Neighborhood where those houses stand by designating it as a historic district. The neighborhood is so named because it’s one of the city’s oldest.
“We are encouraging the city to take a look at the whole area and see if there isn’t some interest in preserving the nature and character of the neighborhood,” said resident Peggy Bruggman.
The Centennial Neighborhood is bounded, roughly, by Veterans Boulevard to the east, Whipple Avenue to the north, Arguello Street to the south and Brewster Avenue to the west.
The 700 block of Brewster Avenue boasts the greatest number of intact houses. On other streets, some homes have been torn down to make way for homes and apartment buildings in the 1960s and 1970s.
While individual houses may not qualify as historic landmarks, the neighborhood could receive some kind of designation, Radcliffe said. Among other things, it was the place Redwood City founder Simon Mezes called home.
“We’re trying to keep the character of Redwood City true,” said Planning Commission member Nancy Radcliffe. “This is the working man’s neighborhood and we think it’s worth preserving.”
The city will hire an architectural historian to survey the area sometime in August and make recommendations, according to city planner Jill Ekas.
A recent proposal to build a 10-story condominium complex where Whipple Avenue meets Fuller Street alarmed Centennial Neighborhood residents, who asked the city to keep the district’s historic character in mind as downtown Redwood City undergoes its revitalization process.
The neighborhood’s denizens are frequent downtown visitors, providing a reminder of just how important it is for people to live in and near downtown, Radcliffe said.
But the city must also be careful what it builds near the older homes.
“We want the downtown to be cohesive,” she said.
Bruggman has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years and loves its historic homes and working-class nature.
“I’m excited to see new things, but the city has to be careful not to overrun existing neighborhoods,” she said.
This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.