‘Huge’ step for Millbrae BART developments

Article Source: San Mateo Daily Journal

The city of Millbrae will move forward with plans for the long-awaited construction of land around the BART/Caltrain station if the City Council approves an agreement with the potential to make way for two developers’ projects.
The two proposed mixed-use plans would modify the 1998 Millbrae Station Area Specific Plan and related Environmental Impact Report, building on Sites One, Five and Six of 13 sub areas in the plan. The city would charge the developers $899,686 for the amendments to the plan, according to a staff report.
“This is huge,” said Councilwoman Anne Oliva. “I think these are some viable submittals and it’s a great step in the right direction for the city of Millbrae.”
Higher density housing, retail, restaurant, office, hotel and entertainment uses in a mixed-use development have yet to materialize for the area which is the largest multi-agency transportation center west of the Mississippi River. Site One hasn’t been actively worked on since 2006.
Republic Urban Properties hopes to develop Sites Five and Six of the current plan, which are owned by BART. The BART-selected developer has proposed a mixed-use project containing office, multi-family residential units, an extended stay hotel and retail on 10 acres. It calls for 263 dwelling units, 136,600 square feet of commercial space, 84,880 square feet of retail space and 110 hotel rooms. The project would displace several hundred of BART’s existing surface parking spaces and would impact existing SamTrans bus parking and service. However, the details regarding the amount of parking that will be replaced and the potential relocation of the bus intermodal facility to the west side are to be determined, according to the report.
The second application is coming from Serra Station Properties and is on a portion of Site One comprising the old Millbrae lumberyard and Serra Convalescent Home. The proposal is for a mixed-use project containing office, multi-family residential units and commercial space on 3.5 acres. The proposal offers a variety of building options, including one that follows the current area specific plan and would build 271,868 square feet of office space and 24,220 square feet of retail space. Other options include modifying the plan and including 500 dwelling units, 916,000 square feet of office space, 75,000 square feet of retail space and 134 hotel rooms, according to the report.
“This is very exciting for our city and the community of Millbrae,” said Councilwoman Marge Colapietro. “It’s been many years in the making and, unless we take this step, we cannot move Millbrae forward. Both developments have goals of mixed-use, transit-oriented development with great potential for increasing tax revenues for our city operations.”
The amendments requested relate to allowing building heights to be raised to the maximum permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration, increasing land use density or the floor area ratio, allowing for a form-based code based on physical form to be applied and other changes. The city is keeping the Planning Center | Design Community and Environment, the city’s consultant on the project site, in charge of project management.
“Due to the significance of these projects regarding the land use, traffic/circulation, fiscal/financial and public impacts, significant emphasis in the analysis of these projects will be devoted to: market area trends and fiscal impact, circulation system modeling, a master EIR and public outreach,” the report states.
Councilman Reuben Holober agreed with both Oliva and Colapietro on the significance of the potential plans.
“It’s definitely an important step; it was one of my goals running [for office],” Holober said. “Other councilmembers would like to see movement on Site One. We want to make sure the best plan is utilized for that area.”
Both projects received Notices of Determination of Completeness on Jan. 3 for having complete applications, including all required application forms, drawings, notations and fees. TPC | DC&E will be in charge of guiding a technically sound and time sensitive amendment and environmental review process, working with all parties to define a locally beneficial and regionally valuable district, providing technical information and unbiased recommendations, providing solutions to potential conflicts, organizing research and preparing documents, facilitating community outreach and assessing public input, along with educating and presenting to the public, Planning Commission and the City Council.
There would also be two public meetings to identify community issues. The tentative deadline for finalizing the amendments to the area specific plan and EIR is December 2014. The $899,686 costs will be split between the two applicants, 55 percent for Republic Union and 45 percent for Serra Station on the basis of the maximum development square footage requested and a costs share for the BART Access Plan.
The City Council meets 7 p.m. tonight at Council Chambers, 621 Magnolia Ave. in Millbrae.