San Mateo development plans slowed by economy 

A development boom along South Delaware Street in San Mateo has hit a big speed bump: the economy.

Despite approvals from City Hall for several major housing and office projects along a half-mile stretch of Delaware Street, the troubled real estate market means it will probably be years before several ambitious plans become reality.

The 599-unit housing, office and retail complex Station Park Green at 1700 S. Delaware St. was approved last week by the City Council. But instead of requiring building permits to be submitted within the regular two-year period, city officials allowed the developer 10 years to do the paperwork.

Similarly, the 276,000-square-foot Hines office project down the street was approved last year with an eight-year development agreement.

“They were concerned, obviously, with the economy, [that] they wouldn’t be able to achieve that in two years,” said Senior Planner Lisa Ring. “We don’t expect them to be pulling a building permit anytime soon on these projects, unfortunately.”

This week, the Planning Commission turned its attention to preliminary plans for an 83-unit condo project at 2090 Delaware St., a few doors down from the city’s former police station at 2000 Delaware St., where yet another 120-unit housing project is under review.

The flood of projects is exactly what the city wanted when it crafted its Rail Corridor Plan in 2005, laying out incentives and building guidelines to spark new construction on Delaware and in areas near the Caltrain corridor.

“That’s what resulted in the interest,” Ring said.

The most high-profile Delaware Street project of all — the 83-acre Bay Meadows project — also faces an uncertain timeline more than three years after it was approved.

While the Bay Meadows master developer expects to complete work in June on building roads and other infrastructure for part of the project — which includes 1,171 residential units and 715,000 square feet of office space — there is no clear schedule for when buildings will rise.

“We will time our entry into the market to be consistent with the market recovery,” said Janice Thacher, project manager for San Francisco-based developer Wilson Meany Sullivan.

The earliest the Bay Meadows developer would have to pull building permits is October 2013, according to the city.

“The clock’s ticking,” said Associate Planner Darcy Forsell, “but it’s not ticking very fast.”

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Shaun Bishop

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