A key piece of the proposal to rebuild Burlingame’s historic former post office into a sweeping office building above a community town square moved ahead to officials who will consider adopting the project’s development agreement.

The Burlingame Planning Commission unanimously recommended the Burlingame City Council adopt a development agreement for plans to redevelop the site at 220 Park Road into a crown jewel of downtown.

Terms of the deal incentivize applicant Sares Regis to begin work on the project promptly and continue pushing toward completion, while also guaranteeing the builder will contribute at least $2 million to the city’s plan of constructing a town square next to the commercial development.

Commissioner Will Loftis celebrated terms of the development agreement, framing the recommendation approval as a common sense decision for city officials.

“This seems like a no brainer to me,” said Loftis.

The Burlingame City Council must formally adopt the development agreement at a future meeting to make it official.

According to stipulations of the deal, the development agreement spans five years in which time construction must begin on the site. Additionally, it guarantees a $2 million contribution from Sares Regis toward construction of the adjacent town square, plus a 5% additional contribution to be triggered after three years.

Sares Regis executive Andrew Turco said the structure of the deal is designed to incentivize his company to begin work promptly and continuously push toward completion.

Once work is finished on the project, the agreement also mandates that parking built in an underground lot intended to accommodate office workers at the site will be available to the community on nights and weekends.

Furthermore, the deal provides public space downtown for construction staging which Turco said will help the project move ahead more efficiently if workers and equipment are kept close to the job site.

Additionally, Sares Regis agreed to complete work on the town square that can be easily achieved while developing the office building. He said the development company concurs the two projects should move ahead simultaneously, but any work done on the square by the developer will be credited against the $2 million contribution.

The building is proposed to be six stories, with five floors of office space built over a ground floor of retail and dining space. In all, the development will be comprised of 152,000 square feet and it will abut the community square planned on an existing surface parking lot. The office building will feature two floors of underground parking.

Upon completion, the building is expected to be the tallest in Burlingame. The historic post office building will be preserved as part of the project, and Turco said it will be moved a short distance off site during construction to assure its protection.

On the parking lot sitting at Park Road and Lorton Avenue, behind Burlingame Avenue, city officials and community members are working on separate but related plans for the new community square.

Those who participated in an online planning discussion last year 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.

Community Development Director Kevin Gardiner said the cost of the project is yet to be determined, but initial projections are that $2 million would likely be sufficient to build a conventional square, and that additional amenities would likely hike the price further.

Looking ahead, architects are expecting to use the input to draft preliminary design options to be examined by the community in early 2021.

For his part, Loftis shared the enthusiasm of officials ready to see the office proposal and surrounding development move forward.

“We are all very excited for this,” he said.

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