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City has new proposal for more homes

Major mixed-use San Mateo development now includes 961 units, ballet company, larger park

By Anna Schuessler Daily Journal staff

One of the largest developments proposed in San Mateo in decades, the Passage at San Mateo is set to get even larger after the developer submitted revised plans for a 961-unit, mixed-use project at the 14.5-acre Concar Shopping Center near the juncture of State Route 92 and Highway 101 with the city last week.

Originally proposed to include 935 units, 35,000 square feet of retail space, a new Trader Joe’s, a transit hub, art gallery, dining hall and 1-acre park where Rite Aid, TJ Maxx and Ross Dress for Less stand, the revised plans include 961 units — of which 109 are slated to be offered at an affordable rate — nearly 8,000 square feet to studio and performance space for the Peninsula Ballet Theatre and a 4,600-square-foot day care facility, according to an announcement from the developer California Coastal Properties Tuesday.

The 935-unit pre-application the developer submitted last year included 73 affordable units and situated a mix of the residential units and retail space in five buildings across the site, said Brian Myers, a partner with California Coastal Properties. Though Myers acknowledged the construction of nine buildings with parking on the lower levels will be more expensive to build than the designs initially proposed for the project, he was hopeful the set of changes in the application would go a long way toward addressing concerns raised in the more than 40 meetings the developer has hosted with residents, business owners and other community stakeholders in the past year.

“The real good news for us is we’ve really engaged a lot of the community in the discussion over the project,” he said. We’re really proud of the design that we created out of those comments.”

Set to retain an existing Trader Joe’s and 7-Eleven on site and also provide a range of amenities open to residents of nearby communities, the project has previously raised concerns for Sunnybrae resident Barbara Niss, who has worried about the loss of well-used amenities like Ross Dress for Less, Rite Aid and TJ Maxx. Though she was encouraged by the developer’s working with the Peninsula Ballet Theatre to retain space for the nonprofit on the site, including day care in the plans and considering a small pharmacy as a potential future tenant, Niss wasn’t convinced the plan went far enough to provide amenities for those who will live on and around the project.

“If I can’t walk to Concar Passage and get what I need, then I’m going to get in my car and drive further, which doesn’t achieve the goal of reducing my carbon footprint and doesn’t get my car off the road,” she said.

Niss also felt the project was simply too large for an intersection where several other projects like the 12-acre Station Park Green project — which will add 599 housing units, 2 acres of parks and open space, as well as 25,000 square feet of commercial space and 10,000 square feet of office space — are taking shape or have been recently approved, such as a 73-unit apartment building slated to replace the AAA insurance office building at 1650 S. Delaware St.

Niss was joined by Richard Neve, civic director for the Fiesta Gardens Homeowners Association, in airing concerns about the clustering of projects near the intersection of Concar Drive and South Delaware Street. Neve noted residents have called for a decrease in the number of units with concerns about the project’s effect on traffic and parking in and around the neighborhoods surrounding the site, and wasn’t sure the revised plan adequately addressed those concerns.

Though he said he and other Fiesta Gardens residents were appreciative of the fact the revised plans included more affordable units and park space than the previous proposal, Neve still wondered if the impact of Station Park Green and continued construction at Bay Meadows could be measured before even more units are proposed for the area.

“We still think it’s a really massive development for the area considering all the other things going on there,” he said.

Myers said that because the revised plans include a building type that’s more expensive to build, the developer maximized the number of units allowed in the project under the state density bonus. But in doing so, the project could accommodate more affordable units, which Myers said would be offered at a variety of income levels, including very low-income, low-income and workforce housing for professionals like teachers, nurses and police officers who may not qualify for units designated for lower-income levels but still struggle to afford living where they work. By offering units at levels like 120 percent of the average median income, Myers is hoping the project can provide housing opportunities for employees of nearby businesses and companies.

“We’re really making a concerted effort to working with local groups to provide housing,” he said. “That’s a really big issue for us.”

Myers said he expected city staff would review the application in the coming weeks, after which the developer would begin a process to analyze the environmental impacts of the project. He said the project could go before the Planning Commission for the second time as early as late spring of next year.

anna@smdailyjournal.com

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