As a tandem development proposed on neighboring city parking lots in Burlingame gradually advances, officials lauded designs of the affordable housing portion while expressing reservations regarding the adjacent parking structure.
The Burlingame Planning Commission praised during a meeting Monday, July 8, plans for constructing 132 units of workforce and senior housing in a five-story building at parking lot F, on Lorton Avenue, between Howard and Bayswater avenues.
Officials though were less supportive of the proposal to redevelop the adjacent parking lot N, bounded by Lorton and Highland avenues, into a garage with 384 spaces spread across five floors, according to video of the meeting.
The discussion arrived as Pacific West Communities, which was selected by councilmembers to build the two projects, made minor aesthetic changes to the designs of both buildings.
For the residential development, amendments were done to the planned exterior color palette, windows, roof designs and other exterior elements — which were well received by commissioners.
“I think all the changes have improved the project,” said Commissioner Will Loftis, whose perspective was shared by Chair Sandy Comaroto and Commissioner Audrey Tse.
Not everyone was so effusive regarding the proposal though, as some residents with property near the development were concerned about when construction may get underway, as well as a variety of other plan specifics which could affect surrounding land.
While many of the detailed questions were referred to the developer, who expressed a commitment to more public communication, City Attorney Kathleen Kane said officials are hopeful building will begin next spring.
The project, which has been in the planning stage for years, was expected to start construction earlier this year. Timing details have been a source of much consternation, as local merchants have pushed for work on the garage to start first, for fear of compounding existing downtown parking problems.
Before work can begin though, remediation of contaminated soil must be completed and Kane said the process is nearly done.
“The good news for everybody is that we are very close to finishing,” said Kane, who expected the cleanup could wrap up by the end of the year.
With work likely on the horizon, commissioners called for more parking lot plan details — specifically regarding a mesh metal screen proposed to wrap around the façade of the garage.
The mesh proposed is an amended material from the original plan set, which confused and concerned commissioners. But those reservations were balanced against designs which some commissioners considered incomplete, making it difficult for them to determined whether the material would be suitable.
“I can’t assess this because of the nature of what is being proposed and the lack of information about how it is being put together,” said Loftis. “As I say, it could go really, really well or really, really poorly.”
Tse noted the material, of which samples were supplied to commissioners, was extremely malleable, giving way to questions of whether it would be able to withstand the wear and tear of exposure to the public.
Commissioner Michael Gaul said he might like to hear more from the material manufacturer for an account of how well the screen mesh performed when placed on the exterior of other garages.
Planning Manager Rubin Hurin said he expected the developer will return at a subsequent meeting with more information about the material. Loftis said such additional perspective would likely be required for him to make an informed decision on the garage design.
“There are a lot of technical questions that need to be answered before I can say a whole lot about how well it works,” he said.
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