Artist’s rendering of the housing project which is approved to be built near Carolan Avenue in Burlingame.
The largest Burlingame housing project in the development pipeline will continue to wait to break ground as officials approved a request to push back commencing construction until 2018.
The Burlingame Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal to begin construction on 290 apartments and condominiums at Carolan Avenue in 2018, according to video of its meeting Monday, May 8.
The project proposed by SummerHill Housing Group aims to rebuild property housing an auto repair shop at the intersection of Rollins Road just south of Broadway and the developer claims more time is needed to vacate the premises.
Despite the postponement, Elaine Breeze, vice president of development at SummerHill, said in an email her company remains committed to beginning work as soon as possible.
“We are very excited about the project and looking forward to starting construction,” she said, while claiming city officials and the developer were not expecting to break ground until next year.
Burlingame Planning Manager Kevin Gardiner confirmed the delays have been anticipated by city officials.
“The last lease does not conclude until the end of this year, so the developer cannot begin construction until then,” he said in an email. “This has always been a known factor with the project, and there has been an understanding that there would be a time lag between planning approval and constriction.”
There was no discussion of the proposal by planning commissioners during the meeting because the issue was listed on the consent agenda, which means it was considered routine in nature. The development extension was the second granted in as many years.
Affordable housing advocate Cindy Cornell though said she is frustrated with the delay, as the project stands to offer a substantial portion of the below-market rates currently proposed in Burlingame.
“I am very concerned that this development has not gone through,” she said in an email.
The project, approved by the City Council in 2015, proposes to build 290 apartments and condominiums for purchase and rent. The development will be comprised of two four- and five-story buildings which will house the 268 apartments for rent, and four separate two-story buildings that will offer 22 condominiums available for purchase on a 5.4-acre site currently home to a variety of car service companies.
There are a range of apartment sizes included in the project, including 149 one-bedroom units, 111 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units.
The condominiums are proposed to have six two-bedroom units, eight three-bedroom units and eight units with at least three bedrooms plus an auxiliary room that could be used as an additional bedroom or office space.
Cornell said the project would offer units at a range of prices, pointing to the developer’s expressed willingness to set aside 29 units in the project for those earning 120 percent of the area median income, which amounts to about $138,360 annually.
Breeze had estimated when the project was approved the market rate for renting the one-bedroom apartments will be roughly $2,600 per month and a two-bedroom unit would likely be more than $3,000, while the townhouses would probably sell for about $1 million.
Alternatively, the affordably priced one-bedroom apartments would probably be available for a monthly rent of about $2,100, while the two-bedroom apartments would be on the market for nearly $2,600 per month, according to Breeze in 2015.
Cornell noted while the project would likely be priced beyond the range of affordability for some of those struggling in the already expensive housing market, she believed it could offer some middle-class housing.
“Though not affordable for most people, those 29 units would help people who earn too much to qualify for housing vouchers (Section 8), but not well off enough to pay market-rate rents,” she said.
She added the city’s housing issues are compounded by other delays to proposed affordable housing elsewhere in the city, such as the downtown residential project targeting city parking lots.
Burlingame officials met during a study session with project developer Pacific West Communities in April an attempted to push forward a proposal to construct 66 affordable and market-rate units for seniors and 78 affordable housing units. The project also aims to build a parking garage on an adjacent surface lot at Howard and Lorton avenues near Park Road, but has been held up due by the cost of cleaning up an underground toxic plume near the proposed site.
“We are most distressed at the fact that the affordable housing that was planned for a parking lot downtown has languished for well over two years,” said Cornell.
She added development delays in projects touted as an opportunity to address affordability concerns in Burlingame, combined with community opposition to a previously proposed previous rent control initiatives is “creating even more despair and hopelessness among renters.”
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105