Plans for a sweeping mixed-use development on public land in South San Francisco drew largely positive reviews from officials who acknowledged more work is necessary to address the concerns of some residents.

The South San Francisco Housing Subcommittee reviewed the most recent designs of a proposal for 800 residential units and 13,000 square feet of commercial space during a meeting Monday, Aug. 19.

The committee comprised of members of the City Council and Planning Commission mostly admired the proposal from AGI/KASA, while calling for additional refinements to the project at 1051 Mission Road, said Community Development Director Alex Greenwood.

“In general, the committee indicated they were supportive of the project and appreciated the effort of the developer to scale back the massing of their project so it fits well with the surrounding neighborhood,” he said. “And they acknowledged that a lot of thought has gone into the design to address community concerns.”

The project is proposed near where Westborough Boulevard turns into Chestnut Avenue just west of downtown on almost 6 acres of land previously owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, a short distance from the city’s BART station.

Plans make way for 800 units spread across three buildings, as well as 12,992 square feet of commercial space, 8,307 square feet for a day care center, 879 parking spaces and a swath of open space. Of the units, 158 will be set aside at an affordable rate.

The buildings will vary in height, as the two largest will reach up to eight stories with one underground level of parking and the shorter building will reach to seven stories, according to project plans.

Limiting the height has been a key concern for the developer, following the eyebrows raised by residents when a previous project design included a proposal which reached as high as 12 stories.

When renderings of the larger project started to circulate, community members flooded meetings last year voicing their opposition with claims that the project did not meld with the character of South San Francisco.

In recognition of those concerns, Greenwood said the development was amended to feature more articulation so as to not appear as sheer towers looming over neighboring homes.

During the most recent meeting, officials further critiqued the project and asked for more refinement which could help the project blend as much as possible with its surroundings, Greenwood said.

Looking ahead, he said the project could move forward to review by the entire Planning Commission in October and up to the City Council for approval by the end of the year.

If the proposal stays on its current timeline, Greenwood suggested it could require between six months and one year of work to complete the permitting process and developers are hopeful to break ground by the end of next year.

Over the coming months, Greenwood said additional focus must be paid to address the parking and traffic concerns raised by residents who fear the development could mar their quality of life.

“The community has very legitimate concerns and we need to work with the community and developer to make sure the concerns are properly vetted,” he said.

Such perspective must also be balanced against the benefits offered by a project standing to make a sizable dent in the work by officials to reduce the cost of living by adding hundreds of new units to South San Francisco’s housing stock, said Greenwood.

“We know here is a housing crisis and a large number of our community members can’t afford to live here so providing these units near transit is a huge opportunity,” he said.

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