Millbrae mini-mall on its way 

A mini-mall slotted to house a Walgreens and a Chipotle Mexican Grill is under construction at the city’s border with Burlingame, a new development that could give the nearby Burlingame Plaza Shopping Center somelunchtime-crowd competition.

But officials for Burlingame and Millbrae say dueling shopping centers will encourage areawide economic vitality, particularly as plans to bring denser mixed-use developments start taking shape in both cities.

Millbrae City Manager Ralph Jaeck said that construction of Friendship Plaza, located at the corner of El Camino Real and Murchison Drive, is tentatively expected to wrap sometime this fall, at which point Walgreens will move into one building and Chipotle will set up shop in the other. The structure has additional room for a handful of other tenants, but no one else has yet signed a lease.

"That’s honestly the most-asked question lately," Mayor Marc Hershman said. "Everyone wants to know what else is going in there."

There are a host of new developments going in around the Millbrae BART station, all considered transit-oriented development. Simultaneously, Burlingame officials continue to make long-range plans as well, encouraging denser development in the north end of town.

David Venturelli, who owns part of Burlingame Plaza Shopping Center — home to Lunardi’s, Longs Drugs and a host of eateries — said that he doesn’t think that business will suddenly shift to the Millbrae area. But in anticipation of denser development, more people and more office workers, he and his fellow owners plan on revamping the 1950s-era center with a new coat of paint, new lighting and new signs as soon as possible.

Venturelli said that plans for Peninsula Medical Center, located in the same area in north Burlingame at 1783 El Camino Real, should also boost business at the center. Plans call to make improvements to Magnolia Drive, which will become the main thoroughfare into the new hospital and send drivers and pedestrians right next to those businesses.

Burlingame City Manager Jim Nantell said that with denser development going on in both cities, both shoppingcenters would have some ready-made shoppers once residents move into new developments expected in the future.

"We take the synergy view on everything," Nantell said. "The more people move there or shop there, the better it is for the whole area’s economy, not just Burlingame or not just Millbrae."

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