After decades of planning to transform a former horse race track into one of the largest transit-oriented developments in the state, the city of San Mateo has partnered with a nonprofit housing developer to ensure people of all economic backgrounds will have an opportunity to call Bay Meadows home.
Constructing a new estimated $50 million housing development without intending to make a profit has taken years of orchestrated negotiations between the city, land owner and now an affordable housing developer.
Last week, the council unanimously approved working with Bridge Housing to construct between 68 and 72 units at a 1-acre parcel the city secured through the development agreement for revitalizing the second phase of the 180-acre site off Highway 101.
The new project is slated to provide housing for those who make some of the lowest incomes in the area and may also be one of the first to apply for funds from Measure K — a countywide sales tax voters recently extended and agreed should be spent on affordable housing.
“I think it’s fantastic to support the whole community and to ensure that there’s housing dedicated for everybody, especially in such a difficult place to afford to live,” said San Mateo Mayor Joe Goethals. “And it is a testament to the city councils that came before me.”
In its approval of Bay Meadows, the city negotiated for the land as a way to ensure an estimated 15 percent of the more than 1,100 residences would be set aside as affordable. Most of the affordable units are sprinkled throughout the site and the Bridge development will represent the sole property completely dedicated as affordable. San Mateo will provide the city-owned 1-acre site to Bridge through a $1 annual ground lease for 99 years. The site is now on its way to become home to renters making between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area’s median income — which is between $33,000 and $66,000 for a family of three, according to a staff report.
“It really was very prudent of the past city councils who negotiated the development agreement to include this 1-acre parcel for affordable housing,” said Deputy Mayor David Lim. “Diversity is very important for our community as a whole; so it’s nice to know there’s going to be a range of socioeconomic diversity at Bay Meadows.”
Aside from providing the land, the city will also provide a $2 million loan to Bridge. The city chose Bridge, one of the state’s largest nonprofit developers, to build the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments at the property off Delaware Street near 28th Avenue.
“We have been watching this site for a long time,” said Ali Gaylord, Bridge director of Northern California development. “Bridge has a long history of doing transit-oriented developments so this fits right in with our wheelhouse.”
The site is centrally located near the Caltrain line and, once the grade separation project at 28th Avenue is completed and the Hillsdale Caltrain Station relocated, this development will have great access to mass transit along El Camino Real, Gaylord said.
Winfield Hill, a subsidiary of Bridge, will develop the site and a public hearing and planning process will ensue allowing time for community input. Bridge has chosen architect Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, which designed the neighboring Nueva School and is expected to create a cohesive feel for the neighborhood, Gaylord said.
The nonprofit must also outline a financing plan to support the estimated $50 million project. Bridge is expected to apply for federal tax credits, as well as traditional financing from private or public sources. Gaylord said Bridge is also hoping San Mateo County may begin to release offers for Measure K funds. Earlier this month, voters approved extending Measure A, the countywide half-cent sales tax, after proponents proclaimed it as a way to support affordable housing needs.
Gaylord said she’s hoping construction could begin in 2018.
As with many affordable housing projects that require an assembly of financing, land is often a key component and a city’s donation can help jump-start development. San Mateo officials are familiar in leveraging city assets toward affordable housing goals and are in the midst of considering doing so again at two other parcels near downtown, which have been targeted for workforce housing and public parking.
Gaylord said she’s impressed with the dedication San Mateo staff and the council have shown thus far.
“The councilmembers are always very focused on how to address the affordable housing crisis in San Mateo, they’re doing great from a leadership perspective,” Gaylord said. “The value they can provide [with the land] and the forethought of requiring a certain percentage of affordable is critical, especially at a transit-oriented site. … Allowing people to live there that have lower incomes as well, is part of the foresight of the planning process.”