A lush, green open space where friends can hang out, grab a meal or even catch a concert was imagined by Burlingame residents designing a new community square planned as a downtown gathering hub.
Residents joined officials and architects during an online seminar Tuesday, Dec. 2, discussing plans for the square which will be built where an existing parking lot sits at Park Road and Lorton Avenue, behind Burlingame Avenue.
The discussion was the second of its kind and granted community members another interactive opportunity to offer their perspective on design options in advance of architects using the input to create renderings expected to be unveiled in February.
For his part, Councilman Michael Brownrigg framed the discussion as a unique chance for Burlingame community members to collaborate on a project expected to be a downtown landmark for generations to come.
“It is really a legacy all of us are leaving,” said Brownrigg. “Not just for the next year, or 10 years, but really for the next 100 years.”
A majority of those who participated in the online discussion favored establishing the square as one, large central open space featuring plenty of natural, green landscaping. Community members preferred the organic feel to one featuring a more urban, hardscape aesthetic.
The space was imagined as a gathering point where friends or families could meet for outdoor dining and socializing with adequate flexibility to host live concerts, performances or other cultural events.
Nodding to the exhaustive social isolation required during the pandemic, Councilwoman Donna Colson said she believed the value of community gatherings and social events will be greater than ever — once such activity is safe again.
“We are really seeing the critical nature of usable, outdoor open space for community gatherings and I think it will be even more important in the future,” she said.
Beyond the feedback provided at the most recent meeting, planners also launched a website where input on the site can be collected. Following the two online discussions, architects are expecting to use the input to draft preliminary design options to be examined by the community in early 2021.
The town square is proposed on the lot abutting the Burlingame’s former post office at 220 Park Road, which is slated to be rebuilt into a sweeping office development expected to be the city’s tallest building.
The building is proposed to be six stories, with five floors of office space built over a ground floor of retail and dining space opening into the town square. The office building also will feature two floors of underground parking, expected to be available to the community during evenings and weekends as a replacement for some of the spaces lost when the existing lot is rebuilt.
Sares Regis, which will build the commercial project with Dostart Development Company, also volunteered $2 million toward constructing the community square. Colson expressed confidence that the square would blend well with the surrounding development.
Acknowledging some concern regarding the project’s cost amid the pandemic which has taken a chunk out of the city’s budget, Brownrigg said officials are cognizant of the financial risk and comfortable it can be afforded.
“We are careful fiscal stewards and believe this is well within our capacity to meet — especially with the generous grant,” he said.
More broadly though, Brownrigg shared his certainty that the square would become a cherished community asset.
“I have no doubt it is going to be an amazing public space,” he said.
Visit burlingame.mysocialpinpoint.com/townsquare to learn more about the Burlingame Town Square project.