‘Charming’ Redwood City to be touted on TV 

Downtown’s revitalization is still in its infancy, but key development plans will be touted in a five-minute news feature on CNN and the Travel Channel this summer.

The program, called "Focus on America," has been around for years, studying everything from trends to economics.

Producers, however, recently decided to branch out and feature up-and-coming cities, said Lisa Vrancken, production manager for Platinum Productions. Redwood City is among the first to be featured.

"The rich history of Redwood City, and all that great San Francisco Bay shoreline and the work going on downtown, which is very quaint and charming, makes it very attractive to our viewers," Vrancken said.

Planning has been the name of the game in Redwood City. After creating the retail-cinema site on Broadway and working to craft guidelines for creating a vibrant, urban downtown, officials are now weighing future development on several pieces of Bayfront property, including Redwood Shores’ Area H, Peninsula Marina near Pete’s Harbor and the Cargill lands.

Those plans recently won Redwood City a number of awards, including "Best Mixed Use" for the retail-cinema site that opened in summer 2006 and "Steal of the Year" and "Best Office Sale" on news that PDL Biopharma will occupy one of the towers in the Pacific Shores campus.

It also won a Charter Award from the Congress on New Urbanism for its new Courthouse Square plazaand the streetscape surrounding the retail-cinema site and the plaza.

New urbanism, a buzzword among civic planners, refers to development that is walkable, makes use of infill sites and creates diversity among housing and jobs.

Ultimately, the "Focus on America" piece aims to highlight Redwood City to attract travelers and new residents, as well as hold it up as a model for other cities, said Vrancken.

"Redwood City is a role model," agreed Alpio Barbara, president of the Downtown Business Group. "The excitement is there, the buzz is there, and developers are calling City Hall."

Redevelopment Agency Manager Susan Moeller, a key player in the retail-cinema plan and the creation of the new downtown plan, said the city has made a big investment in its downtown.

"I think we’re doing the right thing — we’re saying we’re going to be responsible for helping meet the jobs/housing imbalance," Moeller said.

"We’re doing our part to create a livable community."

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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