City Ventures Plans to Redevelop Avalon Motel in San Mateo But Few Caveats Linger

City Ventures, San Mateo, Bay Area, Avalon Motel, North Bayshore

City Ventures, San Mateo, Bay Area, Avalon Motel, North Bayshore

San Francisco and Newport Beach-based City Ventures is looking to bring an old and historic motel on North Bayshore Boulevard in San Mateo into the 21st century and redevelop the site into a modern living community.

The proposal that City Ventures had put in front of the city officials is one that the firm had been developing for a several years, and one that had been vetted by the community, as well. The firm had conducted a series of meetings that began over two years ago taking into account feedback from neighbors and others who live in the Peninsula community.

[contextly_sidebar id=”VdxvVQzzf4M93O1moImJxmqtCnORT6kQ”]As it stands today, the proposal calls for demolition of the Avalon Motel, located at 220 North Bayshore Blvd., a motor court style motel built in 1936, and construction of eight three-story buildings containing a total of 42 town homes on top of a 2.13 acre site. The homes would be build to City Ventures modern specifications, which include solar panels for each home, electric vehicle plug in stations in each garage and all electric, energy efficient appliances.

And it seems from the feedback that City Ventures collected, the surrounding community would be excited about its redevelopment, as well. “We have had a lot of meetings with our neighbors, and I can assure you that everyone in the north [Bayshore] neighborhood is really excited about seeing this motel no longer be in the neighborhood,” said Andrew Warner, director of development at City Ventures presenting a near-final rendition of the redevelopment proposal. He spoke at the San Mateo planning department meeting in late October.

The city planners did acknowledge that the motel is often a source of neighborhood complaints and disruptive noise, yet the character of the structure makes it one of the most unique locations in San Mateo County, and a possible candidate for the state and national registers of historic places. This style of its architecture is representative of the 1930s, and the buildings on the site are largely intact; by and large they remain in the same way that one would have seen them during the early 20th century, as California and its expanding web of roadways was developing and transforming the landscape. This aspect makes the redevelopment somewhat tricky to execute, and the historical significance of the site is the primary reason the location has to go through an extensive environmental review.

Part of the review process has to provide alternatives to the developer’s proposal. It does not make specific recommendations on which direction the city staff should vote or decide, but it does help inform the decision-makers, the city planning staff and the city council on which direction to take. The primary purpose of the alternative analysis is to figure out ways to avoid demolition of some or all of the buildings on the property, since they posses historical significance, and allow the structure, or portions of it, to remain in its present form.

One of the alternatives presented is no development at all. While this is not necessarily a viable alternative for City Ventures, it is technically an option that the owners could pursue. Even if this option was to be taken, special consideration would have to be given to maintaining the status quo of the motel and retaining the buildings in their current operational structure.

Another alternative that would preserve a portion of the motel while allowing the developer to build housing around the remainder of the existing structure was also floated. This option would retain three buildings that present the most architectural interest and convey historical significance of the motel. In essence, an even smaller motel would be maintained consisting of 13 units, which likely may not be economically viable for the developer, but they would allow the site to retain eligibility for the California and national registers.

All three alternatives, proposed demolition and redevelopment of the entire site, partial redevelopment and no redevelopment, are open for public comment and consideration, which officially ends on December 4th. Following this date, the planning department should review the updated plans in January after which a city council review is likely to occur in February of 2016.

In closing of the meeting, the planning department weighed in on the proposal, and while some members of the city staff were reticent about their personal affinity toward a part of Americana that this motel represents, they agreed that the practical issues around lack of housing outweighed the need to preserve an aging structure whose time in the community had passed.

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