Officials eye historic hotel for housing 

Two years after San Mateo was incorporated in 1894, the Vendome Hotel was built to house visitors to the newborn city, a role it has played for more than a century.

But these days, instead of housing visitors, the hotel now primarily serves San Mateo residents who have no housing of their own.

In recognition of the hotel’s current role, the City Council and redevelopment agency will vote today on plans to buy the 7,925-square-foot building at South Claremont Street and East Second Avenue for $1.8 million and turn it into a permanent housing center for low-income and chronically homeless residents.

While the hotel is already providing low-cost housing to residents, San Mateo Neighborhood Improvement and Housing Director Robert Muehlbauer said this could be a good chance to clean up the building and put management in the hands of a nonprofit dedicated to helping those in need.

"We do have a chronic homeless population on the streets of our downtown, and it’s important to get these folks into housing," Muehlbauer said. "Then you can start applying assistance programs."

In this case, both the Shelter Network and the Samaritan House are interested in partnering with the city to manage and serve the hotel if it were converted into housing.

Shelter Network Executive Director Michele Jackson said her agency has never entered into a permanent housing program like this, but welcomes the chance to improve lives in the area’s low-income community.

Mayor Jack Matthews said he was excited for the opportunity to create a safe, clean housing complex downtown, in close proximity to jobs, public transportation and support services.

The hotel has four ground-floor apartments and 17 single-room occupancy rooms. Matthews said there could be a future effort to turn it into a more intense transit-oriented development and possibly expand the complex over the adjacent Caltrain parking lot.

The City Council meets tonight at 7 p.m. at San Mateo City Hall, 330 W. 20th Ave.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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