At a neighborhood meeting Tuesday evening, EBL&S Development unveiled the details of its latest application for the roughly $300 million Station Park Green project. The plan is a slight modification of one approved by the San Mateo City Council in February 2011 and developers say it aims to address some of the worries raised by Hayward Park residents in the three years it has taken the project to secure financing.
While the 12-acre site is currently a shopping center housing chain stores such as Kmart and Michael’s, developers have pledged to seek smaller retailers in an effort to promote pedestrian access for local community members.
“Real transit-oriented development doesn’t have big-box stores. It has stores that service the neighborhood,” said Alan Talansky, senior vice president of development for EBL&S. “We’re looking at a couple restaurants, a deli, a bank branch. We’re looking at all the things the area’s missing.”
Some members of the community have expressed anxiety regarding potential congestion resulting from people driving to and from the proposed complex, which would include 599 residential units, more than 25,000 square feet of retail space, and 10,000 to 45,000 square feet of office space.
But Talansky emphasized that the “living community” is envisioned as a walkable village for train commuters and retirees looking to downsize, not especially for families cruising around in minivans.
The project was initially approved as part of the 2005 San Mateo Rail Corridor Plan, which aims to attract businesses and renters to the areas immediately surrounding the Hayward Park and Hillsdale Caltrain stations.
Only 24 to 26 percent of residential units will be two-bedrooms. The rest will be one-bedrooms and studios. “That’s what this market wants. It’s not designed as family space. It’s designed for the type of people that want to live in transit-oriented development,” Talansky said.
Noting the need to accommodate future transit improvements, Talansky added, “We will have electrification [of Caltrain] in a couple of years. We’ll not only have quieter trains but we’ll have trains every 20 minutes.” Additionally, a proposed “hot pass” would allow San Mateo residents to travel by train between the city’s three stations at a discounted rate, he said.
Residents of the 19th Avenue Park and Sunnybrae communities, just across the street from the development site, have also expressed concerns about parking, the need for below-market rate housing, walls that might become graffiti magnets, and the prying eyes of new high-rise neighbors who might be able to see into their backyards.
According to project architects, buildings will be kept to three stories along the more heavily populated South Delaware Street boundary, parking will be ample and enclosed within the site, and the development will not be walled-off from the sidewalk. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of housing units will be below-market-rate and some parking spaces will be dedicated for car-share vehicles.
EBL&S plans to submit a finalized application after a study session of the San Mateo Planning Commission, open to the public, is scheduled at City Hall May 13.