After decades of planning how to transform an old horse race track into a bustling transit-oriented development, San Mateo is narrowing in on a housing project dedicated to low-income families at Bay Meadows.
City staff announced it is partnering with the nonprofit Bridge Housing to reimagine a vacant 1-acre lot as the future homes of up to 68 families struggling to afford the region’s high cost of living.
Nestled next to the private Nueva School at the corner of Delaware Street and 28th Avenue, the now city-owned parcel was negotiated as part of the agreement for the redevelopment of the total 160-acre former Bay Meadows race track.
The days of horse racing are long gone with the site owned by Stockbridge Capital and master developer Wilson Meany nearing completion after nearly two decades of planning. Eventually, it will have more than 1,150 residences, 780,000 square feet of office space, 93,000 square feet of retail and 18 acres of open space.
Last week, the City Council was presented with an update on its future housing site on which staff chose to work with Bridge after a competitive request for qualifications process.
“Bridge is a 35-year-old affordable housing developer,” said Ali Gaylord, Bridge’s director of development for Northern California. “Our mission is quality affordable housing and that’s what we’re going to bring to San Mateo.”
The city anticipates the site could accommodate up to 68 units for families who make less than 50 percent of the area’s median income, or under $43,000 to $61,000 a year, according to San Mateo’s Housing Manager Sandy Council.
After years of planning, the city was able to negotiate for about 15 percent of the housing units at Bay Meadows to be set aside as affordable — 10 percent are incorporated throughout the market-rate housing segments and the city’s 1-acre parcel will contribute another 5 percent, Council said.
One of the largest redevelopment packages the city has seen, Council noted the site will host a nice mix of market-rate and below-market-rate units with a range set aside for moderate-, low- and very low-income earners.
Situated near the Caltrain line, Bay Meadows prides itself on being a transit-oriented project and Council said staff sought to partner with a developer that had a strong commitment to sustainability.
It will also ask Bridge to pay construction workers prevailing wages, conduct community outreach and be responsible for operating as well as managing the finished project, Council said.
Bridge and San Mateo will likely look to tap in to county, state and federal financing opportunities, Council said. The city will provide a long-term lease at $1 per year, the land at no cost and likely need to contribute funds as well, Council said.
“Usually these projects take anywhere from five to 10 funding sources,” Council said. “We’ll need to donate the site plus provide some cash to make this project feasible.”
Traditional tax credits, as well as seeking state cap-and-trade funds are options being considered, according to a staff report.
Bridge has selected Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, which designed the neighboring Nueva School, to work on the affordable housing proposal. The nonprofit developer also has a history of providing on-site programs and may work with the local Human Investment Project, or HIP Housing, on a self-sufficiency program, according to the report.
Bridge is responsible for nine other projects in San Mateo County.
“We’re very excited to be working in San Mateo,” Gaylord said. “We’ll make sure this property fits in well with the residential characteristics of a Bay Meadows neighborhood.”
City staff is expected to return to the council in the coming months for a review of a proposed development agreement outlining the terms between Bridge and San Mateo.
With the region’s affordability crisis a hot topic throughout the Bay Area, the city is looking forward to contributing below-market rate units to needy families.
Mayor Joe Goethals said he’s pleased the city’s inclusionary zoning laws enables the city to leverage below market rate units within for-profit developments such as in the case of Bay Meadows. Bridge Housing and its chosen architect are expected to do a wonderful job creating a transit-oriented site that blends in with the surrounding Bay Meadows community, he added.
“This is just one of the many things that the City Council of San Mateo is doing to increase affordable housing,” Goethals said. “Building some dense housing in the rail corridor has to be part of the solution to the housing crisis we’re in.”
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