The city of San Mateo has received a planning application to demolish the aging Hillsdale Inn just off Highway 101 and replace it with 180 condominiums.
Barry Swenson Builder submitted an application to redevelop the 477 E. Hillsdale Blvd. property to the San Mateo Planning Department and is still in early stages of the review process, said Christy Usher, the city’s project planner for the proposal.
The application consists of a four-story building and three three-story buildings with studios up to three-bedroom units, as well as a 364-space underground parking structure, Usher said.
Constructed in the 1950s, the Hillsdale Inn used to be a hot spot along Highway 101, said Joshua Burroughs, development manager at Barry Swenson Builder. Its landmark tower, fashioned after a air traffic control tower, was used as a honeymoon suite but fell into disrepair and was demolished in 2001.
About 10 years ago, the company bought the property with the intent of redeveloping it, Burroughs said. Ideas for the property have changed over the years and at different times BSB considered turning it into a senior housing project, a new hotel and other apartments, Burroughs said.
“We’ve been working with the city for over 10 years on this specific property in various iterations of development ideas,” Burroughs said.
But none of the ideas stuck due to the context of the market and financing, thus the motel is still open for business, Burroughs said.
“There’s a right time to build and a right time not to build,” Burroughs said.
The property is located in zone C2, which allows for commercial properties; however, residential facilities are allowed under certain circumstances, Usher said. To qualify for a use permit, the applicant would need to provide additional documents, have a more in-depth review, endure longer processing times and pay additional fees, Usher said.
“The city wants to be sensitive to the area and keep a balance, so a use permit lets us take a closer look in terms of appropriateness,” Usher said.
The application begins with city staff from fire, police, building and planning reviewing the proposal, compiling staff reports and then presenting it to the Planning Commission, Usher said. As the project may require a special use permit, staff will make recommendations about the compatibility of the apartments with the surrounding residences and businesses, Usher said.
Just making its way through the Planning Commission will likely run into 2014, Usher said. Even though it’s a long process, BSB is used to working with both cities and builders to construct substantial projects, Burroughs said.
BSB has worked extensively in the Bay Area. Although this is the only property it owns in the city, it has worked as a general contractor for other developments in San Mateo and have helped to build a Hilton Homewood Suites in Palo Alto, Burroughs said.
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