The fate of key piece of Burlingame Bayfront property will come under examination, as the State Lands Commission is fielding requests for developing the 9-acre property which has long laid fallow.
The State Lands Commission opened the request window for potential uses at 401 Airport Blvd., where a hotel, a public park, open space and wetlands have been among the proposed projects.
The new deadline for proposals for the state property is in July, and Burlingame Mayor Donna Colson said she is hopeful creative and bold visions come forward for one of the largest swaths of unused land east of Highway 101.
“There is a fair amount of opportunity out there,” said Colson.
Three competing proposals have previously been filed for the land owned and operated by the State Lands Commission, which limits the authority of city officials in determining the fate of the unkempt land currently bounded by a fence.
A developer proposed building a boutique, 150-room hotel in one corner of the site, reserving the rest of the property for open space or aquatic uses such as kayak or paddleboard launches.
A similar development proposal included a hotel in the corner of the property abutting Kincaid’s Restaurant, with the rest of the site reserved for athletic fields open to the community.
And a third proposal includes preserving the naturally occurring wetlands at the site as open space for community enjoyment and education.
For her part, Colson said she is intrigued by the opportunity to keep a majority of the land open while occupying some of it with a boutique hotel which could bolster the city’s tourism industry.
“We still think there is enough capacity to handle a small, high-end boutique hotel that would have a restaurant and other amenities that would be nice for the public,” she said.
She noted the city’s current hotel room vacancy rate is extremely low, and that interest in the adjacent area will likely be sparked with construction of the new Facebook building which could accommodate roughly 3,500 workers.
Building a hotel would also improve the value of the land for the state and generate some revenue for the city through hotel tax which could be paid to help maintain the surrounding area, said Colson.
“Revenue that could be used to help that whole Bayfront could be important,” she said.
She also noted the proposal to build athletic fields is flawed because allowed uses are limited by the requirement to preserve sensitive open spaces and seasonal wetlands.
“There are very specific rules on what can and can’t be done out there,” she said.
Regarding the proposal to preserve the entirety of the site as wetlands, Colson said she questioned the financing plan to make the vision for the site sustainable.
Looking ahead, Colson said she believes city officials will hold off on discussing the future of the property until the state agency has closed the window for proposals and started to identify preferred alternatives.
She noted though Burlingame officials have been underwhelmed by the process, and are feeling a little disregarded by their counterparts at the State Lands Commission who control the property.
“That has been a frustration for us,” said Colson, regarding the process of working alongside the State Lands Commission.
But regardless of the merits of the variety of proposals, Colson said she is hopeful some development begins soon because the state of the property currently is unsightly, unsafe and unsuitable.
“The status quo is completely unacceptable,” she said.
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