Seven years in the making, development plans for Centennial Village, which would transform South San Francisco’s 1965-era shopping center at the corner of El Camino Real and South Spruce Avenue into a new mixed-use shopping, housing and office development, are finally coming to fruition.
The South San Francisco City Council voted unanimously in favor of modified plans for a transit-oriented project Wednesday night that take into account council concerns about wages, housing options and a timeline for the project. The development includes 222,000 square feet of commercial space, with 42,400 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, 35,300 square feet of office space on the second floor and 284 residential units on the upper floors, all located at 180 El Camino Real, on a 14.5-acre site. Ground floor tenant spaces would include the Safeway, 30,000 square feet of commercial retail space, a 36,000-square-foot health club and 21,000 square feet of smaller commercial tenant spaces.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Councilman Mark Addiego. “It’s been quite a journey. This is such a superior project. … I think once we see it up, it will heal everything.”
The healing Addiego is referring to is the back and forth between the developer and the city about various details of the plans during the past seven months of active planning for the site. Ultimately, changes were made to the project to appease the city including adding a clause that allowed for prevailing wages for all construction workers, putting in a minimum of 150 apartments above a 58,000-square-foot Safeway and reducing the term of the development agreement from 20 years to 10 years. Work on the project could begin late this year or early next year, said Vice Mayor Richard Garbarino.
The project will transform an ugly corner, he added.
“This has been a long journey, and for I think all of us sometimes a disappointing journey,” he said. “I’m glad we were able to get to this point.”
The reduction in time allowed for developing the site is welcome since this is the kind of project the city wants to come as fast as possible, said Councilman Pradeep Gupta.
“I’ve seen the project definitely change in response to council inputs,” Gupta said. “Frankly, I’m pleased with the direction the project has taken.”
In terms of the added apartments, Addiego said he is glad about the inclusion of the residential units.
The prevailing wages were also of importance to councilmembers, but some stated they’d like to see local workers hired as well.
Meanwhile, the developer, William T. Mitchell of WT Mitchell Group Inc., emphasized the development’s accessibility to public transit, being a half-mile north of the San Bruno BART station, near bus stations and close to Centennial Way Trail. He said he’s created a corridor to draw people into the area.
“We worked with the city for seven years to get to this point and we’re really proud of what we’ve ended up with,” he said.
As part of the approval, the city also approved adopting a resolution making findings and adopting a mitigated negative declaration; and adopting a resolution approving a use permit, design review and transportation demand management plan.
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