Bay Meadows continues to grow, more to go: Movie event at old race track site Saturday, work on housing, office, retail continues

Construction at the former Bay Meadows race track is well underway but about 70 percent of the development is yet to be completed.

A lot has changed at the site of the old Bay Meadows race track over the past decade and although exciting developments encouraging the public to visit are underway, it is still a long way from becoming one of the largest transit-oriented developments in the state.

Bay Meadows will host its first Movies in the Meadow at its largest 12-acre park at near Hillsdale Boulevard and Highway 101 in San Mateo on Saturday to encourage the public to become part of the sustainable community, said Darcy Forsell, principal planner with the city’s Planning Division.

“It’s really exciting having worked on this project now for almost 11 years to see people moving into the houses, to see people playing in the parks, to see people biking and walking to the train station,” Forsell said. “For years we just worked on the vision of the place we wanted to create and now to see it created, in a nutshell, it’s very rewarding.”

In the midst of Phase II for the development of the old race track’s 83 acres between the Hillsdale and Hayward Park Caltrain stations, master developer Wilson Meany is hosting a community event at the Bay Meadows Park starting 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Visitors can kick back on a summer evening to peruse local vendors, play games, have their faces painted, meet neighbors, listen to music, play movie trivia and enjoy a screening of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The annual event is meant to encourage those who live at Bay Meadows to mingle and engage what will eventually be a 1,170 housing unit community, said Janice Thacher, partner at Wilson Meany.

“It’s part of what we’re doing to welcome people in San Mateo into Bay Meadows and also to become part of the different things we have to offer as part of our community.”

Bay Meadows is continuing to create social projects such as its community garden that will have 99 rentable plots for those who may not want the weekend chores of tending a large yard but still wish to grow their own produce, Thacher said. It will also host “Dig It,” a monthly gardening workshop open to the community at large, Thacher said.

The site’s three parks, Bay Meadows, Paddock and Linear parks are in various stages of completion, Thacher said. Paddock is a more active park with a playground, basketball court and hosts Monday Mom Days, Thacher said. Linear Park is to be more passive and will undergo construction in the fall, Thacher said.

Bay Meadows Park, although slated to host this weekend’s movie event, eventually needs the city to create a Master Plan before it can truly be finished, Forsell said. Yet as the City Council has dedicated its current attention and resources to Central Park, a Bay Meadows Park Master Plan hasn’t begun, Forsell said.

Phase I culminated with the redevelopment of the practice track into the Franklin Templeton headquarters, a retail area featuring Whole Foods Market, the San Mateo Police Station, Kaiser Permanente medical center, 19 live-work condos, 55 single-family homes, 98 townhomes and 575 apartments.

Phase II, however, is just about 30 percent under construction or completed, Forsell said.

The Nueva School is expected to finish next month and about 10 percent to 15 percent of the residential units are completed, Forsell said. None of the nearly 800,000 square feet of office space or about 93,000 square feet of retail space has started, Forsell said.

Per the development agreement with the city, Bay Meadows has until 2023 to finish the entire project. But it hinges on one critical component — Caltrain grade separation projects, Forsell said.

With Caltrain making strides in its plans for electrification, several street crossings will require grade separation and San Mateo has identified working on the intersections at 25th, 28th and 31st avenues, Forsell said.

Only the 28th and 31st avenues are within the Bay Meadows zone and per the development agreement, Bay Meadows cannot finish until at least one grade separation project has begun, Forsell said.

The city has yet to identify funding, but it is aggressively pursuing options such as receiving money from the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, Forsell said. Voters have reapproved Measure A since it began 1988, which provides a half-cent sales tax to be dedicated to transportation projects.

Eventually, the plan is for the city to relocate the Hillsdale Caltrain station more central to Bay Meadows near 29th Avenue, Forsell said.

The goal of the project is to ensure Bay Meadows becomes a true transit-oriented development where people who live and work make use of public transportation, walk or bike, Forsell said.

“We really set out to create a different, more sustainable and innovative community at Bay Meadows and I think what we’ve done so far is, that we’ve accomplished that goal,” Forsell said. “People are biking, people are riding the train, people are enjoying the parks and people are making it a community. And that to us was something really important. Making it a community.”

Parking for Movies in the Meadow is available at the San Mateo County Event Center parking lot located at 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

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