In early 2017, Redwood City’s Council declared the creation of “a network on great public open spaces” a priority for its downtown, in order to match the significant surge in commercial and residential development in and around the city’s core. To begin this work, the city hired SERA to lead a multi-disciplinary team to evaluate a number of publicly-owned downtown sites for possible redevelopment into parks.
Rather than looking at individual sites and their potential to accommodate park and rec programming, SERA took an urban design perspective – examining each site’s relationship to its surroundings and to downtown as a whole. SERA proposed a network of park facilities running north-south through downtown, and connected by streetscape improvements. The plan would transform a library parking lot into a complementary playground and plaza; a public parking lot into a flexible farmers’ market / pop-up event space; and the ‘forgotten’ Redwood Creek into an ecologically-restored waterway with an associated recreational trail. SERA worked closely on its assessment and concepts with the City’s Parks, Recreation, and Community Services department, as well as other city staff, community stakeholders, and the Planning Commission.
To test the library site in particular, the city hosted a weekend event that brought in temporary playground equipment and programmed activities – including a storytelling tent – all of which were enthusiastically received by the public. City Council unanimously adopted SERA’s study in late 2018, and began consulting with local park designers in 2019.