Foster City Council considers senior housing next to civic center 

Foster City is moving to meet the need for retail space and the need for housing for older residents in one 11-acre project adjacent to City Hall.

While some members of the council and community are concerned that a mixed-use retail and senior housing complex envisioned by the City Council at Civic Center Drive and Shell Boulevard may not create the community focal point the council envisions, others say the unconventional combination could work out.

"From a land-planning standpoint, we have to watch traffic impacts, and senior housing generates the least amount of traffic," Community Development Director Richard Marks said Monday.

On Monday, the council voted unanimously to send requests for proposals to three developers interested in turning 11 of the 15 vacant acres next to the government center into the mixed-use project. The remaining four acres will be developed into a charter school with help from the selected developer.

Although the council wants to serve Foster City’s senior community, Councilman Rick Wykoff said he was concerned that such a prime location would be better used for "adult-oriented housing," for adults not raising children but not yet in need of assistance or long-term care.

Mayor Ron Cox said he hopes the project will include housing for both independent, active adults and services for seniors who require assistance.

Those concerns, as well as issues about the final amount of retail space — which could range anywhere from 15,000 to 100,000 square feet — will be answered as the city negotiates with the three developers. The final trio is the AF Evans Company, the Jewish Home of San Francisco and Bridge Housing Corporation.

"[City officials] have a strong vision for the site, which is exciting for us," said Thomas Earley, director of development for BRIDGE Housing. "So we’re looking forward to going through the next steps with them to determine the best use."

The city-owned land has sat vacant for more than 40 years, and its proximity to City Hall makes it prime property for Foster City’s plans to create a focal point for city activities.

The city has gone through an extensive process of interviews and meetings to narrow the initial 45 potential developers down to a semi-final pool of five, from which the final three were selected.

The city hopes to have a developer selected and a project in place by July.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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