By Meghan Hall
The Tragoutsis family have been grocers in the Bay Area since 1953 and solidified their presence in the region with the opening of Trag’s market in the 1970s when they purchased 303 Baldwin Ave. in San Mateo. The family’s 40-year legacy at the store will soon come to a close, as San Mateo-based developer Prometheus Real Estate Group has submitted plans to construct a five-story, 131,636 square-foot mixed-use building on the downtown site.
“San Mateo’s downtown has historically been viewed as the center of the city,” said San Mateo City Planner Roscoe Mata. “The project supports the goals of the General Plan and Downtown Plan that seek to enhance the vitality and activity of downtown by incorporating an overall good mix and diversity of uses.”
The new building would consist of 64 studio, junior one-bedroom and one bedroom apartments, totaling 51,020 square feet. Additional 19,952 square feet of ground floor commercial and retail space and 60,664 square feet of office space would be added above the ground floor. 11 percent of the residential units are proposed as below market-rate. A residential courtyard and a roof terrace are part of the plans, as are 74 long-term and 18 short-term bike parking spaces. 260 below-grade parking spaces would be created through a mechanized parking system.
The current project application is the second iteration of the plans; Prometheus submitted its first proposal in December 2017. Several study sessions both before and after the formal project plans were submitted revealed that community members had reservations about the project’s initial exterior design.
“We heard that the amount of glass used in the original design was too much for downtown San Mateo,” said Mata of the community’s comments.
At the most recent study session in March 2018, members of the public expressed concern over traffic and the lack of parking. The public also asked if the Tragoutsis would return to the site and open a market after the development’s completion. The presentation team stated that while such an arrangement was preferred, it was not likely.
Updated plans submitted in March 2018 by designer WRNS Studio incorporated more brick into the building’s frontage. Terra cotta panels along the ground floor storefronts were also added, and wide sidewalks are planned with the aim of enhancing the pedestrian experience.
303 Baldwin Ave. is situated at the edge of San Mateo’s growing downtown. Currently, there are two other projects — located at 405 E. 4th Ave. and 333 and 345 S. B St. — that are under construction and include office space. A third proposal submitted for 406 E. 3rd Ave., which also includes office space is currently under review by the San Mateo Planning Department.
The project’s location is ideal for offices, as it is within walking distance of numerous eateries such as Bobabia, Fusion Peruvian Grill and Philz Coffee, and is also easily accessible by car and by train, a point which Mata emphasized.
“The site’s unique location across the street from the downtown San Mateo train station provides an excellent opportunity to provide transit-supportive uses near the train station,” said Mata. The project site is also easily accessible via U.S. Highway 101 and North El Camino Real.
According to Mata, the Planning Commission will review the project in the next several months. Prometheus did not return The Registry’s request for comment.