Studies start for BART area development: Two Millbrae sites have developer interest, process to outline future projects underway

Article Source: San Mateo Daily Journal

The process of developing land around the BART/Caltrain station is continuing to move forward in Millbrae with city staff now preparing an environmental impact report and seeking public input and comments on the plan.

The city began the process this month of scoping the approximately 116-acre area, as part of the Millbrae Station Area Specific Plan, as well as two transit-oriented development projects on two of its 13 sites with a mix of office, residential, hotel, open space and retail within the boundaries of the plan. The city is undertaking a process to update the specific plan, which was initially developed and adopted in 1998.

“This is a huge step,” said Mayor Wayne Lee. “It’s the first time in 20 years we’ve had substantial movement and it’s part of mine and the council’s economic plan.”

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. One of the areas being developed is Site One, which it hasn’t been actively worked on since 2006. It stretches north from Millbrae Avenue along El Camino Real up to Victoria Avenue, comprising the old Millbrae lumberyard and Serra Convalescent Home. Serra Station Properties is proposing 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.

Republic Urban Properties hopes to develop sites Five and Six of the current plan, which are owned by BART. Site Five is directly east of the Millbrae Station along Millbrae Avenue and Rollins Road and currently is a parking lot for BART/Caltrain. Site Six is just east of that space and is currently parking space. 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 a staff report.

The EIR will enable developments to proceed as they are approved, so each project in the station area is not subject to the process of another plan that may come along, said Councilwoman Marge Colapietro.

The projects will be a long-term sustainable addition to the community if it goes well, Colapietro said.

“It’s very, very exciting for Millbrae,” Colapietro said. “By the submittal of two potential projects for the development area, that’s what triggered the beginning and long-awaited, important opportunity for the community.”

Still, the final environmental report won’t have a final report until early next year, probably in March, Lee said. Councilman Reuben Holober also notes it will take some time to get everything fleshed out.

“It’s great to have it rolling,” he said. “The review process is still ongoing.”

Additionally, there are 10 other sites in the Millbrae Station area that are without proposed developments. Site Three is located on the corner of El Camino Real and Millbrae Avenue, while Site Four is located on the corner of Rollins Road and Millbrae Avenue, just south of Site Five. Site Seven is located just west of Highway 101 and north of East Millbrae Avenue. Site Eight is located just north of the BART parking structure. Site Nine is located along Rollins Road and Millbrae Avenue, to the east of Site Four, while Site Ten is just south of that, along Adrian Road. Site Eleven is located to the west of BART, along El Camino Real. Site Twelve is tucked between Chadbourne Avenue, El Camino Real, Millbrae Avenue and Broadway to the west. The final site, Site Thirteen, is just east of Site Nine, along Adrian Road.

The EIR scoping comment period for the proposed project continues through Oct. 19. All scoping comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. Oct. 19. Comments can be submitted in various ways. One can write to: Marty Van Duyn, Community Development Project Manager, 621 Magnolia Ave., Millbrae, CA 94030, email with “Millbrae Station Area Specific Plan Update EIR” as the subject or provide comment at the public scoping meeting 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30 at Millbrae Library Room A, 1 Library Ave. in Millbrae. The meeting is open to the public.