San Carlos seeks business expansion 

Industrial Road could one day become a lively, diverse district where industrial firms and big-box stores rub elbows with condo-dwelling hipsters and biotech researchers.

As San Carlos moves forward with an aggressive plan to entice businesses to the city — aimed at increasing the roughly $5 million a year the city receives in property taxes — leaders are brainstorming the look and feel of four key commercial areas. The Economic Development Advisory Committee and a new Chamber of Commerce Group will study options for Industrial Road, El Camino Real, the Harbor Industrial Area and downtown, the latter of which would likely keep its small-town, boutique feel.

"Industrial Road could be developed into a vibrant area of retail and housing, with a focus on sustainable business," resident Pat Bell said Wednesday at a meeting of the committee. Adding brewpubs and restaurants could "create places for young, hip people to hang out after work," she added.

Most of the city’s commercial districts are already within San Carlos’s redevelopment area, according to Economic Development Manager Brian Moura. Harbor Industrial Area isn’t, but committee members are considering whether to include it. San Carlos is eligible to raise some $10 million in bond "seed money" for redevelopment projects in those areas.

Already, new projects are moving in. At 1133 Industrial Road, the former Breuners site, a new retail plaza with a PetSmart and pet hotel is under construction, while developer John Baer has proposed a mixed-use project with 150 residential units and ground-floor retail at 767 Industrial Road.

The City Council voted in February to explore economic development as a primary means of raising revenues in the city. San Carlos closed a budget gap of more than $2.5 million this year and faces another shortfall of close to $1 million next year, Moura said.

To judge new projects, the committee will work with the Chamber of Commerce to develop a rating system for new projects that would assign points based on their potential to stimulate the local economy, according to member Mark Green.

Meanwhile, the City Council will return to Laurel Street plans Monday when it considers more permitting oversight for new stores moving into spaces larger than 2,500 square feet.

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Beth Winegarner

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