By Jack Stubbs
“This is a very special day for San Bruno, and it is my great pleasure to start this demolition and the transformation of this site at the gateway to our downtown,” San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane said at an event celebrating the demolition of the San Bruno Plaza at 406 San Mateo Avenue last Wednesday July 15th.
The demolition ceremony—which was also attended by San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson, and representatives from the San Bruno City Council—celebrated the joint redevelopment venture between Sares Regis Group of Northern California and their financial partner, Resmark Apartment Living.[contextly_sidebar id=”aIxVVcGcnBLwxUg5igimnJJl9pre8tbK”]Sares Regis Group, the developer for the project, acquired the approximately one-acre area in April of 2015 for $10.6 million. The redevelopment of the parcel will include a three-story building with 83 apartment units over podium parking and an additional 7,000 square feet of ground-level retail space. The demolition of the existing structures on the site is expected to occur this month, while construction on the redevelopment project is projected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year. The estimated completion date is the second quarter of 2017. The architect for the project is KTGY Architects; the demolition company is Ferma Corporation located in Mountain View.
The highly anticipated redevelopment project is not only significant for the residential units and retail space it will bring to the neighborhood—it also serves as a celebratory marker for the entire city of San Bruno, according to Drew Hudacek, chief investment officer of Sares Regis Group of Northern California. “We’re very proud of what we’re doing today. Today is really the celebration for the city [of San Bruno]. It’s the celebration of a big tangible piece of proof that the transit corridor’s plan is and will continue to be a success. Today we’re here to celebrate the visible demolition that you will start to see almost immediately after today,” Hudacek said.
The upcoming demolition and redevelopment of the site is also part of a broader revitalization project of San Bruno’s downtown transit corridor plan. “What we celebrate today is not only the first major visible step towards redevelopment of this site with demolition of this building that stood as an eyesore for so long—transformation of this site also kicks off the revitalization of our downtown as envisioned in our downtown and transit corridor’s plan,” David Woltering, director of the San Bruno community development Department, said. The city’s transit corridor plan envisions a brighter, more vibrant downtown neighborhood—anchored on one end by Sares Regis’ redevelopment at the corner of San Mateo Avenue and on the other end by the Caltrain station located three blocks away.
The redevelopment, which will bring 83 residential apartments and 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, will serve a focal point in the neighborhood, according to Woltering. “Between these two anchors, we look forward to other new businesses and residential projects and open spaces where residents can gather, shop and dine,” he added.
The project has been highly anticipated; the demolition stage of the redevelopment process culminates nearly a decade of previous work and planning, according to Woltering. “We have all anxiously awaited this day for a very long time. For over a decade, this building has stood vacant and deteriorating, a symbol not only of this national economy that was in serious decline, but also of the need for revitalization of this community’s downtown.” The endeavor, while certainly an achievement while in and of itself, symbolizes a larger renewal for the entire downtown corridor.
Part of the reason why the redevelopment is expected to succeed and flourish is because of Measure N, an Economic Enhancement Initiative passed by the San Bruno City Council last November. The measure increased the height limit for buildings along San Mateo Avenue (where buildings can now exceed the original three-story limit by one additional story) and in the surrounding neighborhood. The new measure will undoubtedly benefit the new parcel and the developers, according to a member of the San Bruno Planning Commission.
“This is one of the first buildings that is under that measure. [Measure N] was passed to give opportunities to developers. Before, it wasn’t economically viable for a developer to come in and take a parcel and do [only] three stories. Now it’s up to four [stories] and seven in other places.” As part of the new measure, the mixed-use residential and retail site will serve as a more appealing prospect to tenants, according to Perry Petersen, chair of the planning commission. “We really couldn’t get a better advertisement for Measure N. With the increased height limits, the value of the property increases,” he said.
While the redevelopment—which will begin construction by the fourth quarter of this year—is exciting prospect for downtown San Bruno in the here and now, Perry believes that the project might set a positive precedent for similar plans in the future. “The most important thing for San Bruno is that it’s a major new project right on [San Mateo Avenue] that is going to undoubtedly experience a lot of redevelopment in the sense that it’s an opportunity to rebuild and improve. When a big new project comes to an area that hasn’t had a lot of new projects, it oftentimes brings more behind it.”