Residents scrutinize Millbrae station plan

Article Source: San Mateo Daily Journal

Residents took advantage of their first opportunity to officially and publicly express opinions and critiques of a development plan which is slated to forever alter the gateway to downtown Millbrae.

City officials received feedback on the draft environmental impact report for the first round of development proposed in the region of the Caltrain and Bay Area Rapid Transit station, located near the intersection of Millbrae Avenue and El Camino Real, during a joint meeting Tuesday, June 30, between the City Council and Planning Commission.

Many residents shared concerns regarding the impact of traffic and parking that would be caused by the influx of cars and people driving to the large developments, which are expected to offer a mix of housing, office space, shops and a hotel near the transit center.

“We are already impacted with traffic, we cannot take any more,” said resident Josie Territo.

She was also disturbed by how construction may influence those living near the site, including noise and a variety of other concerns, which forced her to reconsider whether the development was the right fit for the city.

“I am reluctant to even say I would want this project in Millbrae,” she said.

Vincent Muzzi, owner of Serra Convalescent Hospital, who is proposing to redevelop his 150 Serra Ave. property into a mixed-used residential project, disagreed with that sentiment.

“Millbrae deserves a major landmark development,” he said.

Muzzi, of Serra Station Properties, has proposed to build a project that would contain 267,000 square feet of office space, 32,000 feet of retail space, and 500 high- to medium-density residential units.

BART has also bandied a development on nearby property owned by the transit organization, which could also add 164,000 square feet of office space, nearly 47,000 square feet for shops, more than 300 residential units as well as a hotel.

The BART project design features a community gathering space, which could be an event center and could attract residents and shoppers to the station area project.

Kelly Erardi, of Republic Urban Properties, which is developing the project for BART, espoused the virtue of the project.

“Millbrae is located in the middle of everything,” he said. “I think it’s a perfect location.”

But not everyone shared the same enthusiasm for the plan forwarded by the transit agency.

Former councilwoman Gina Papan said the BART project could be doing more to connect the proposed development to the rest of the city.

“This is our opportunity to really make this more than a landmark,” she said. “If Millbrae expresses their vision of the project, we can make it happen.”

She suggested the retail center proposed for the BART site target high-end businesses, such as an Apple Store, that would serve as the anchor to attract shoppers from across the Bay Area and benefit from the easy access to public transportation.

“I think we can do greater things,” she said.

The two projects, which are only the first two to come forward in the region targeted for development, would add a combined nearly 400,000 square feet of office space, nearly 80,000 square feet of retail and more than 800 residential units which are expected to bring more than 2,100 residents and nearly 1,900 workers to Millbrae.

Following the June 30 meeting, residents will have further opportunity to express their concerns and perspectives on the project, by contacting the city.

All input on the projects will be addressed in the final environmental impact report, which is expected to be released later this summer. The report is needed before the projects themselves can go through the public planning process. (650) 344-5200 ext. 105