A proposed eight-story north Burlingame apartment building with 311 units was approved by the city this week to replace a single-story office building and parking lot at 1766 El Camino Real.

Plans to redevelop the 1.7-acre lot, which backs up to California Drive and the train tracks at Trousdale Drive, have been in the works for several years, with the city previously approving a mixed residential and commercial building that did not come to fruition.

The newly approved structure will span 505,000 square feet and feature a basement garage with 319 parking spots. The 90-foot-tall structure will partially wrap around the adjacent Burlingame police station.

“This is the kind of housing that the region needs, its walkable to transit, its walkable to a lot of jobs in the medical center and it’s also walkable to two grocery stores, a pharmacy, all kind of cafes and restaurants,” Greg Pasquali, a representative of Carmel Partners overseeing the project, said.

The Planning Commission voted 5-2 to grant approvals, with commissioners Michael Gaul and Jennifer Pfaff dissenting. During a prior review some commissioners had raised concerns regarding the building’s design, indicating it was too busy.

The developer submitted a revised simplified design, alleviating the concerns. The project’s architects said the design took cues from Eichler homes, a midcentury modern architecture present in Burlingame.

“I like the added depth in the windows, I like the material transitions a lot better, the simplification has really helped,” Commissioner John Schmid said.

But Gaul and Pfaff said they did not like a portion of the building set to protrude northeast between the police station and existing townhomes, and requested the height of that portion be reduced, something that would decrease the number of units.

“This, especially in the renderings, just looks overwhelming,” Gaul said. “It just dominates those townhomes that are to the south of it and I don’t think that’s fair to that architectural element of the town.”

The project is planned to include 37 studio units, 137 one-bedroom units, 120 two-bedroom units and 17 three-bedroom units. The average apartment size would be 930 square feet. Included would be 22 below-market-rate units with rents affordable to people earning half the county’s median income — $1,598 for a studio or $1,713 for a one-bedroom.

The affordable units allow the building’s density to exceed that otherwise allowed by the city, per the state’s “density bonus” law. The law in this case allows the developer to add 72 units on top of the maximum allowed by local zoning.

The site is the former home of the Peninsula Museum of Art, which was displaced after the property owner terminated the lease with plans to move forward redevelopment. The museum has since relocated to The Shops at Tanforan in San Bruno.

The site is also a half mile from the Millbrae BART and Caltrain station and adjacent to a SamTrans bus stop. To increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety, several changes to the adjacent intersection of El Camino Real and Trousdale Drive are planned, including a sidewalk extension and a center median to shorten the El Camino Real crosswalk, plus enhanced lighting.

The work is to be paid for by the developer as part of a “community benefits” package. The developer is also responsible for paying $1.3 million in impact fees to be used by the city for infrastructure.

(650) 344-5200, ext. 105


(650) 344-5200, ext. 105

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(2) comments


Good to see this project pushing forward to build out the transit center (and the design does look nicer than the original plans).


Incredibly close to Millbrae BART transit hub & across from the Burlingame Plaza shopping center--should be a pretty desirable residential location!

I hope that the pedestrian crossing improvements are truly material, as that segment of El Camino is 7-8 lanes wide depending on how you count it. It would be pretty cruddy for residents to have to drive one block to the strip mall to do their shopping rather than feel safe walking it

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