The 15-acre site in the center of Foster City that has sat vacant since the city’s 1971 incorporation and that was once envisioned as the location of a high school is set to be sold and developed into senior housing with commercial, retail and restaurant space.
The Foster City Council is set to vote Monday on a raft of items that essentially will move the Foster Square development forward, including the final environmental impact report, general plan amendment, general development plan, design guidelines, tentative map and development agreement.
The Planning Commission held 14 meetings over the past year to review and refine proposals by the master developer New Home Company, along with at least two different sub-developers, to develop up to 421 units of senior-oriented housing. Two-hundred of the units will be for sale, 66 will be set aside as affordable housing and 134 to 155 will be assisted living units, according to a staff report. The assisted living section will include a memory care portion for people who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
There will be a total of 16 buildings, one being for assisted living, one for affordable housing and the rest will be for-sale properties, said Community Development Director Curtis Banks.
The city has also stipulated that 35,000 square feet is set aside for commercial, retail and restaurant space that will be located on the ground level of the assisted living and affordable housing units, Banks said.
Councilman Art Kiesel came across the proposal while he served on the Planning Commission in 2004 and believe it is solid. The senior population is the fastest growing demographic in the city, Kiesel said. When the city was first getting started, it was mostly families that came to the area; now that their kids have moved out, many of the seniors are in a position to downsize, Kiesel said. Providing them with housing will allow them to sell their empty nests and leave room for more people to move in. With increased home prices, the city will ultimately see a positive return in tax revenue, Kiesel said.
Construction will be done in phases. Part of the city’s stipulations for the developer is to have the assisted living and affordable housing units built first, Banks said.
“This land is going to go from a city-owned parcel, so we want to see the uses going in that are going to benefit the residents in the community,” Banks said.
To move forward Monday, the council will need to approve several items, including the final certification of the environmental impact report and to amend and rezone the current land use plan. In assessing the EIR, the Planning Commission established noise as an impact that cannot be mitigated, Banks said. The affordable housing and assisted living portion could take 18 months to complete and the for-sale housing about a year, Banks said.
A noise impact is an unavoidable byproduct of a construction project of this magnitude, Banks said. The council must also approve to rezone the area from public facilities to a commercial mix with a senior housing overlay, Banks said.
The vacant property next to City Hall was once 30 acres and envisioned for a high school when the city was incorporated. However, half of it was sold for a housing development which left the site too small for a traditional high school. There have been proposals for a smaller high school for the 15-acre site but none panned out.
This is basically the last chunk of bare land the in the city, other than parts of the Gilead-owned site, Kiesel said. After the sale of the city’s last frontier, Kiesel said it will be built out horizontally as far as it can go. So like in many other cities, you’ll start to see vertical redevelopment of buildings to add more stories, Kiesel said.
“Even as the city builds out, you’re seeing it start to redevelop as well,” Banks said. “Older buildings that may have outlived their useful life you’ll start to see higher quality or more modern buildings to replace them.”
The City Council meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in City Hall at 620 Foster City Blvd.
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