Safeway fight in Burlingame faces next round 

A battle in Burlingame that has lasted more than a decade over plans to replace an old Safeway shopping center with a larger market and another new development may be heading into its final rounds of fighting.

On July 29, revised plans were submitted to the city for the Safeway project, which the company said addressed concerns brought up during a June 22 study session.

In 1998, Safeway’s plans to rebuild its 31,000-square-foot-store at El Camino Real and Howard Avenue were met with community resistance over the project’s scope. The company eventually retreated.

In 2004, another proposal for a 66,900-square-foot building that would hold both Safeway and a Walgreens — currently a separate building on the lot — was rejected by city officials.

Among other concerns, issues with delivery-truck circulation — because the project’s design has its back to the downtown area of the city — stalled the project five years ago, according to Mayor Ann Keighran.

In 2007, the city created an ad hoc committee to help shape the next Safeway development proposal.

"It’s nice we have been able to integrate the community input into this project," Keighran said. "I think that was one of our many mistakes previously."

Stephen Hamilton, co-chair of Citizens for a Better Burlingame, comprised of local residents, said although the group has protested the project in the past, the new plans are a better fit for the community.

"It’ll enhance Burlingame," he said. "They took the input from the city and did a much better job. The end results will be a much better Safeway."

The latest proposal includes a 45,645-square-foot store — 40 percent larger than the existing Safeway — along with a new two-story retail-and-office development adjacent to the market.

The new proposal addresses pedestrian accessibility and delivery-truck circulation concerns, according to city staff.

Safeway officials could not be reached for comment.

Planning Manager Maureen Brooks said the existing Walgreens will move to another location in the city, and its building demolished, also paving the way for the new Safeway to be built.

The revised plan will now go through an environmental review process; a draft document of those findings will be available to the public in the fall, Brooks said.

She said Safeway hopes to open by Christmas 2010, but she doesn’t know if that can happen.

"It depends on the process, but that’s the goal," Brooks said.

Keighran said she looks forward to seeing the project completed.

"The present Safeway needs some work," she said. "It’s deteriorated. The community wants a new Safeway, it’s definitely needed."


Facelift for a shopping center


1450 Howard Ave.


A new 45,645-square-foot Safeway store

A new two-story retail/office building at the corner of Howard Avenue and Primrose Road

The existing building at 249 Primrose Road, formerly a Wells Fargo Bank, will be remodeled as a part of the project

A total of 209 on-site parking spaces are proposed, including 103 spaces on the roof of the Safeway store

The existing Safeway and Walgreens buildings will be demolished

Next steps

An environmental impact review of the project will be performed

Once the EIR is complete, a study session with the Planning Commission will be scheduled

When the review period for the EIR is complete, public hearings before the Planning Commission and Council will be scheduled

It is expected that the first study meeting will occur this fall

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