Officials broke ground Wednesday afternoon on a landmark development in downtown Burlingame set to transform a historic post office into six stories of office and retail space overlooking a new town square.
The project will retain the post office’s facade, with new construction rising up from behind and an underground parking garage below. The 185,000-square-foot building at 220 Park Road will be the tallest downtown, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023, with the exterior and site improvements to be completed in early 2024.
“The development of this important downtown property promises a building that will contribute much to the fabric of downtown Burlingame,” Mayor Ann O’Brien Keighran said, noting the importance of the site for the community.
The ground floor, including a portion of the existing post office, will comprise 17,000 square feet of retail and dining space. Office space above will feature terraces at each level and larger patios on the third and sixth floors. The two-level underground parking garage will have room for 275 cars and be open to the public on weekends and evenings.
Construction of the project will be handled by Sares Regis Group and Dostart Development Company, which will provide $2 million to the city for the town square development, as well as an additional $3.5 million in assorted fees to go toward affordable housing in Burlingame.
“The site is truly incredible and it came with quite a few challenges,” Mollie Ricker, a DDC partner, said. “Somehow, even through a global pandemic, every single group put in just tremendous effort to bring this all together in a way that works with the town.”
The post office lobby, a concrete building built in 1941 with “Spanish eclectic architecture style” will be picked up and moved 100 feet to be stored on an adjacent lot while the underground parking garage is completed, Ricker said. The post office has been shuttered since 2014.
“You really want to enhance the historical aspect and I think this building’s going to do it,” Keighran said. “We have a great public private partnership throughout this development.”
The town square, which will begin being constructed when the building is completed, is imagined as a gathering point for outdoor dining and socializing with adequate flexibility to host live concerts, performances or other cultural events, similar to Courthouse Square in Redwood City.
“I think it will be a real jewel for our community for generations to come,” Councilmember Emily Beach said of the town square.
Keighran emphasized multiple transit options available nearby, including Caltrain and SamTrans buses on El Camino Real, as well as new housing projects in the works to support the influx of jobs. The development fits well with the city’s General Plan, she said.
The town square-slated lot is currently home to public parking — which has already been more than replaced with the recent opening of a new 368-spot public parking garage a block away at 161 Highland Ave. A 132-unit affordable housing development at 150 Park Road is also underway, designed specifically for people who work in the area.
A previous proposal for the new development incorporated more than 100 units of housing, but the plan was deemed not financially feasible by the developer. Additional concerns had been raised that residents could be disturbed by town square happenings.
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Note to readers: This story has been changed to reflect the fact that the building will be the tallest downtown, and not the city.