Rendering of Station Park Green.
A second round of plans for Station Park Green are underway as the San Mateo Planning Commission provided feedback Tuesday night on the pre-application to turn the 12-acre site near the Hayward Park Caltrain Station into a transit-oriented residential development.
Property owner EBL&S Development submitted a pre-application with modifications March 19 to develop the site at 1700 S. Delaware St., according to a city staff report. The proposal still seeks to build 599 residential units, office and retail space, underground parking and parks just north of State Route 92. However, instead of the original 2 acres of parks, it now proposes 2.4 acres and will include 10,000 square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet of retail space, according to the report. Instead of underground parking, residents will park inside the four larger buildings hidden by the residences and office space wrapping around, according to the report.
The project is set up to ensure it becomes a true transit-oriented development by consisting primarily of one-bedrooms and studios with only about 25 percent of the project containing two- and three-bedrooms, said Alan Talansky with EBL&S.
Its target demographic are those who use public transit and tend to be young professionals who haven’t settled down with a family and want to live in smaller apartments, Talansky said. Station Park Green is aiming to be eco-friendly with an integrated storm water management system, bike paths, drought-tolerant plants and adhering to the California Green Building Standards Code, Talansky said. It also plans on encouraging a car share program and selling reduced rate train passes for residents, he added.
The commissioners were excited to see plans moving forward with visions of keeping more cars off the street, providing an inviting park system, generating much-needed housing and hiring local construction workers at prevailing wages. But, like the public, planning commissioners wanted to ensure commuters could walk through the park between the train station and Delaware Street and that the rental apartments remain family-friendly.
Planning Commission Chair Christopher Massey and Planning Commissioner Josh Hugg said EBL&S should consider having more two- and three-bedroom units.
“I’m a little concerned about the unit mix that’s going into this. Part of the assumption is that we’re looking at young couples without kids. I think given the dynamics of the Bay Area … these areas also have to continue to support the entire arc of a growing family,” Hugg said.
Hugg said he would like to see part of the required 90 below-market rate units to be the larger apartments to support low-income families.
The residential buildings will surround a large private park that is publicly accessible and most of the commissioners felt it helped serve as an attractive connection from the train station to Delaware Street. Planning Commissioner Dianne Whitaker said she was disappointed all the retail was condensed on one corner at Concar Drive and that she’d like to see the retail spread throughout the site so it will be more interesting for those who walk through.
Some members of the public were pleased by the idea of a sustainable project while others were concerned with traffic and parking impacts and wanted more assurance that the project would remain eco-friendly.
Jessica Burtis, a young mom who lives nearby, said she likes that the project is about promoting community and being conscious of the environment, but she wants to ensure the open spaces like the park are family friendly and that the nearby 19th Avenue/Park neighborhood doesn’t turn into a parking lot for visitors. Massey agreed and said he wanted to see parking provisions for visitors.
San Mateo resident Kara Cox said she’s concerned the eco-friendly proposals are entirely voluntary and the project isn’t required to comply. Interim Public Works Director Ray Towne said those details will be outlined in the final agreement. Other suggestions were solar panels or rooftop gardens.
Ben Toy, president of the San Mateo United Homeowners Association, said he believes this kind of development that encourages biking and public transit will help reduce the neighbors’ concerns about traffic and parking.
“[We’re] automotive centric everything and parking and traffic is constantly the throttle for this type of forward thinking,” Toy said. “The people that are going to be moving into the city are different types of people. They’re typically at a young age, they don’t want to mow lawns, they want to live in apartments.”
Plans to redevelop the site of Kmart and Michaels Arts and Crafts, which will be moving to El Camino Real, were initially delayed due to financing. In January 2011, the City Council approved a Development Agreement, Specific Plan and Design Guidelines on the condition of providing public benefits. In turn, EBL&S paid $1.7 million to the city, which went in part to making improvements on Delaware Street.
Although EBL&S owns the property, it may choose to have Essex Property and Trust build it, Talansky said. Essex has considered building an eight-story apartment complex in downtown and recently finished the pre-application process.
Massey said he was pleased to see the new plans and he hopes this second go-around, it will come to fruition.
“What I like best about the new plan, is it looks as though the new plan will be built,” Massey said. “Whatever the merit for the original plans were, the original plan [probably] wasn’t going to happen.”
The next step is for EBL&S to submit a formal application, which would be reviewed multiple times, have public hearings and will go in front of the Planning Commission once again.
For more information visit www.cityofsanmateo.org.
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