Windy Hill Proposes Transit-focused Mixed-use Development in Downtown San Mateo

San Mateo, Windy Hill Property Ventures, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, Bay Area 405 E. 4th Ave. Peninsula

By Daniel Smith

San Mateo residents are getting a look at the first commercial development proposed in recent years for the east side of the Caltrain tracks in the heart of the city’s downtown, a mixed-use project by Palo Alto-based Windy Hill Property Ventures.

Mike Field, commercial director for Windy Hill, said the developer is taking the project to local homeowners associations in addition to a full community meeting and a study session in May.

“Our purpose in doing it … [is] so we’re understanding all the dynamics and hear what their priorities are,” Field said of the outreach efforts, which started with an April presentation to the Central Neighborhood Association.

The project planned at 405 Fourth Avenue and Claremont Street near the Caltrain station would include as much as 55,374 square feet of offices on the bottom three floors and 15 small apartments on the fourth floor. The seven studio units and eight one-bedrooms are all projected to be 600 square feet or less, and there are 83 underground parking spaces planned.

“It’s all workforce housing,” Field said, noting the project’s central location near downtown and between the tracks and the 101 freeway as being ideal for commuters.

Windy Hill Property Ventures is a real estate investment fund founded by Jamie D’Allesandro and Tod Spieker in 2005, with its leadership expanded to a trio in 2013 when Field founded its commercial division. The company is currently building a $16 million office-and-commercial building on Third Avenue and El Camino Real that is completely pre-leased.

Field said the company is dealing with two separate owners of the nearly half-acre site on Fourth, and although they have engaged a brokerage team of Brett Weber, John McLellan and Ryan Young with Colliers International, no tenants for the new project have been inked yet.

The Windy Hill managing partner said they are presenting the project to another homeowners association soon in addition to a more formal presentation to the community scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, in the Main Library at 55 West Third. A study session for the Planning Commission is scheduled May 24.

“We’ll get our formal [project] application in after that, then we’ll get our entitlement,” he predicted. “I guess we’re looking at end of this year for entitlements.” Field said that timeline puts Windy Hill at breaking ground for the project “next Spring at the earliest” for an estimated 16-month construction project.

In addition to city staff and Planning Commission consideration, he said, “Since there is some historic value, the City Council has to approve it.”

On one of the two parcels sits the Endo Automotive building, a 1920s-era example of Streamline Moderne architecture that used to be a Pacific Gas and Electric substation and is eligible for the state historic register.

In addition, the site is known to have high levels of lead in the soil that is to be excavated for parking, but Windy Hill has encountered similar issues on Third Avenue, a former gas station site.

For now, Field said the company is “very excited” about the community meeting May 3, which he said will include a more elaborate presentation than those to the homeowners associations.

“We’ll have full marketing [materials] to kind of show the whole project,” he promised. “It’ll be a great opportunity for the community: see the project, provide feedback.”

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