By Jacob Bourne
An 8.32-acre site on the corner of Marco Polo Way and Trousdale Drive in Burlingame was the location of the former Peninsula Hospital and now lies underutilized. Part of the goal of the North Burlingame-Rollins Road Specific Plan adopted in 2004 was to address the vision and future use of the site. Comprised by a number of parcels, the property is owned by the Peninsula Health Care District, which also owns other nearby acreage. The District has proposed a Master Plan to the City for a Peninsula Wellness Community that would be geared towards health related uses, as the surrounding area has been unofficially named a “virtual continuous care community” given the close proximity of the Mills-Peninsula Fitness Therapy Center, Burlingame Family Health, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center Emergency Department and other health care facilities.[contextly_sidebar id=”T3ylGSB3GV3OhecS6xkN2FO3zKj7goBO”]“We’re a public agency and want to create a Peninsula Wellness Community development that will serve people 160 years into the future,” said Cheryl Fama, CEO, Peninsula Health Care District. “Our overall focus is on the health and needs of the community, so in addition to designing something that complements the adjacent hospital, we also want a development that blends in with the residential neighborhoods, recognizing that we’re in an area with four schools.”
The Master Plan requires an EIR, which would cover the individual projects that make up the development community. An original environmental scoping meeting had been held on January 28, but the District subsequently altered the plans due to conflicts with the flight path of a hospital helicopter service, so another scoping meeting will be held on January 23, 2017 . An additional 100 units of housing were also added to the plans given the high demand for residential, for a total of up to 400 units of senior housing for those aged 55 and older. About 100,000 square feet will be devoted to senior supportive spaces such as social services, community center and fitness area as well as a publicly accessible cafe and gathering space. A central hub of 35,000 square feet of “flex” space will connect some of the residences and provide additional areas to be used for diverse purposes such as offices, dining or meditation. A large professional office building will offer 250,000 square feet for use by the District, physicians and researchers, and will include a conference center. Across from the offices, a 30,000 square foot building is allocated to the nonprofit organization, Gatepath, for a preschool focused on developmentally challenged children. Throughout the community, 15,000 square feet is set aside for dining and amenities, and in addition to landscaped pathways, a two-acre outdoor open space will be available to the public and feature a community garden intended to foster intergenerational interaction between seniors and the preschoolers.
“What we have is a plan for housing that takes advantage of being only two blocks from public transit,” Fama explained. “Because of the location we decided to focus on senior housing as we are surrounded by health care oriented and assisted living facilities. We’ve already heard from older folks who’ve said they want to live here. Overall we’ve received positive messages from the community and are really excited to create a place for healthy living with an age-friendly design, connectivity to services and that’s grounded in evidence-based research.”
The district is seeking one master developer for the projects and will be issuing a Request for Qualifications in the coming days. Certain details such as the breakdown of affordable housing and the timeline for buildout will be decided once a developer has been chosen. Architect Pinto & Partners has been involved in the planning process.
“This type of use had been analyzed and was a big impetus for the adoption of the North Burlingame-Rollins Road Specific Plan,” said Kevin Gardiner, Planning manager. “We’ll be looking at the differences between the Master Plan and the Specific Plan. In terms of the general reuse of the site, the City knew this was coming and it’s generally in line with the overall vision.”