An architect working on behalf of Tesla has filed an application with Redwood City to redevelop 515 Veterans into a sales office, warehouse, and service center/garage. The 23,000 square foot site, located at the corner of Whipple and Veterans, is currently home to Crunch fitness and Chef Peking, a Chinese restaurant.
In order for the pioneering electric car manufacturer to use the land as desired, the site’s zoning will have to be amended to add Vehicular Combination Zoning District to its existing Industrial Park zoning. City staff are currently reviewing the environmental implications of such a zoning change at 515 Veterans, but as the company notes in their proposal:
“Servicing an electric automobile is different from servicing a gas-powered car. Tesla’s vehicles have no internal combustion engine. This vehicle is exclusively electric and is not hybrid. Accordingly, there is no exhaust system, no fuel tanks, no liquid fuel usage, no new or used motor oil, no noise from the vehicle, and no emissions like hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide that are emitted from an automobile powered by an internal combustion engine. Instead of an engine, an electric motor powers Tesla’s vehicles. Electric motors require little to no maintenance.”
With this in mind, it’s probably safe to say that Tesla isn’t terribly worried about how their electric car service station will stand up to environmental scrutiny.
I wouldn’t expect the public review phase to be very rigorous for this proposal either – the project wouldn’t be displacing any housing opportunities (as the land is not zoned for residential), it isn’t likely to introduce any more traffic to the area than the existing gym and restaurant, and the surrounding area is already home to several auto dealerships and service centers. Unless Tesla backs out, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before Redwood City is welcoming one of Silicon Valley’s most iconic and innovative companies to its workforce.
Why Redwood City?
Tesla’s desire to open a shop in Redwood City is likely part of a larger effort to increase their sales capacity. They just started delivering their most affordable car yet – the Model 3 – to customers in July, and demand for the car reportedly far exceeds the number of cars available. On Monday, they announced they would be raising $1.5 billion through their first ever offering of “junk bonds” in order to get the cash necessary to ramp up production of the Model 3 sedan. As production increases and Tesla becomes a more accessible and mainstream auto manufacturer, they will likely look to set up additional service and sales centers to accommodate demand.
Stay tuned for updates as this proposal progresses through city review.