Consultant: Mixed use is best idea for Safeway 

A brand-new Safeway will probably need to be part of a mixed-use development with housing to appease residents, the city and the grocery giant, according to a consultant’s reportto be presented tonight.

A mixed-use building along Primrose Road extending to Howard Avenue and Fox Plaza Lane would appeal to all parties and be financially viable for both Safeway and the city, which would likely benefit from increased revenue from the development, according to the report by San Francisco-based Economics Research Associates. The study was commissioned as part of efforts to create a Downtown Burlingame Specific Plan, city planner Meg Monroe said.

The downside to the proposal is that closing the current Safeway store for construction would lose the company approximately $400,000.

One building, under the plan spelled out by the consultants, would house Walgreens, four levels of condominiums, ground-floor retail space and an underground parking garage, and another would house a 46,000-square-foot Safeway store.

The mixed-use proposal differs markedly from a previous plan put forward by Safeway for a larger store at Howard Avenue and El Camino Real. That plan sparked controversy among residents, some of whom felt it was too large and would harm the downtown, and ultimately was voted down by the City Council in February 2004.

The concept of mixed use on the Safeway site has been floated before, with architect Dan Ionescu last year presenting his own vision of a dense, pedestrian-friendly new shopping and residential center. The proposal received some support from Citizens for Better Burlingame, a group that was active in opposing the earlier plan.

"I would say that our group generally supported mixed use for that site," said Charles Voltz, president of Citizens for a Better Burlingame. "But the devil is in the details, so we’d have to wait and see."

Safeway spokeswoman Jennifer Webber had not seen the study and would not comment on whether the company was amenable to a mixed-use building at the current location. But she noted that the company hasn’t closed thedoor on refurbishing the Howard Avenue Safeway.

"Safeway is waiting for some word from the city," Webber said. "We’re still keeping our options open."

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the Lane Community Room at the Burlingame Library, 480 Primrose Road. There will be a second presentation of the economic study to the City Council at 7 p.m. Monday in the Council chambers at City Hall, 501 Primrose Road.

tramroop@examiner.com

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