San Mateo firm primed to develop Foster City’s last lot 

After almost a year and a half and 17 public meetings, a firm based in San Mateo is eager to get down to business after being selected as the developer for Foster City’s final plot of unused land.

San Mateo’s Sares Regis Group of Northern California, selected Monday by the City Council in partnership with Pacific Retirement Services and the Jewish Home of San Francisco, has plans to create a full nursing facility, in addition to traditional senior housing and retail space, on 11 of the 15 acres, with four acres reserved for the proposed charter high school.

With the selection of the local firm, the city is now ready to begin a negotiation process to kick off the project.

"That’s the exciting part, that we finally picked somebody, so now we can get down to the brass tacks and the financials," said councilwoman Pam Frisella.

Although the council said last week that they weren’t sure they were ready to make a decision, all five agreed that Sares Regis was a capable partner for the important property, and they unanimously voted to select the San Mateo firm Monday night.

City Manager Jim Hardy said that after a closed-session meeting with the council on July 23, city staff will set up a 60-day negotiation period with Sares Regis to establish both the business partnership and the public process for developing the project.

Sares Regis’ proposal aids in blocking the winds that whip across Foster City’s lagoons to provide for calm outdoor dining at the site’s proposed restaurants.

Although Sares Regis has a plan for the site already, public meetings and study will determine the final look of the project. Hardy said he expects the partnership and development process to be laid out sometime before December, so that public meetings can begin.

"Sure, it’s a lot of scrutiny, but it’s been our experience that every time we’ve gone through [public reviews], [our proposal has] enhanced the project," Sares Regis Senior Vice President John Igoe said.

Frisella says she hopes that the possibility of a small theater — or a partnership with the Peninsula Jewish Community Center to show films — will be developed as a destination for visitors.

"Just because we didn’t want a 12-plex doesn’t mean we can’t have a four- or six-plex," she said.

Igoe said that once a partnership is formally laid out, his company will begin a Web site for updated information and project notices.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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