By Meghan Hall
The El Camino Real serves as the heart of activity for numerous cities along the San Francisco Peninsula, including San Mateo, who has several major commercial centers along the corridor. In May, the City received a pre-application to redevelop 2850 S. El Camino Real, a slender, 27,850-acre lot that sits on the edges of the Hillsdale Shopping Center. The property owners, Tang & Fang, Inc., intend to redevelop the lot into a 50,091 square foot mixed-use building complete with retail, office and residential.
Project documents indicate that the current building on the site is occupied by the United Forces Career Center. If the project is approved, the existing building will be replaced with a new four-story building. The proposed development would have an underground 51-car garage, 7,500 square feet of retail on the pedestrian level and a second floor, 1,332 square foot office.
18 two-bedroom apartments will be located on the second through fourth floors of the building. Each unit will have a balcony, and the units will be approximately 1,335 square feet or 1,410 square feet in size. Three of the apartments will be designated for low-income residents. While the allowable unit count is 13 per the San Mateo City Charter and Municipal Code, the inclusion of affordable housing allows the development team to develop 18 residences as part of the project.
The building is to be designed by Walnut Creek, Calif.-based YC+D Architecture. Plans indicate that the building will adhere to a modern aesthetic, with light gray and blue plaster siding, aluminum storefront and window frames in a bronze finish, and exterior wood planks as several of the primary finishes. Light gray and blue corrugated metal panels as well as white painted steel railings for the balconies will also be utilized.
The pre-application is currently under review by the City of San Mateo, although when the pre-application will be deemed complete is unclear. The City Planning Department has also not yet scheduled either a neighborhood community meeting or a Planning Commission Study Session for the project. However, if it moves forward, the development will mark the gateway to the Hillsdale Shopping Center.
Owned The Bohannon Companies, also based in San Mateo, the Hillsdale Shopping Center is in the midst of a major repositioning and modernization process, which was originally pitched in February 2015. Bohannon, along with Santec and ELS Architecture and Urban Design, was approved to move forward, and the project kicked off in September of 2016 with the demolition of the former Sears building, Food Court and old Cost Plus World Market. NorthMarq Capital arranged a construction-permanent loan of $240 million for the property’s redevelopment in February of 2017. Buildout is still in the works, but once completed, the 12.5-acre project will include a luxury movie theater, bowling and bocce ball complex, fitness center and new dining terrace. The expansion will total roughly 288,000 square feet.
The 2850 S. El Camino Real development, will only benefit from the traffic generated by the shopping center, which is also situated just blocks from the Hillsdale Caltrain Station. The annual household income for those living near the center totals $180,781 annually, nearly twice the average income, and the total trade are population is just over 800,00. In addition, the properties’ proximity to major employers such as Genetech Inc., Oracle Corp. and VISA has made the neighborhood ripe for redevelopment.