By Samantha Weigel, San Mateo Daily Journal, September 1, 2014:
While aiming to create an eco-friendly, transit-oriented development next to the Hayward Park Caltrain station, the San Mateo Planning Commission held its first study session last week on the formal application for the 12-acre Station Park Green site.
“We’re all pushing for something that’s a little more transit friendly or addressed the needs of folks coming from the [Hayward Park] station,” Planning Commission Vice Chair Charlie Drechsler said. “Our focus was really listening to the residents and the public comment about the experience that would be hopefully enjoyed by not just residents, but people interacting with that space.”
After placing the project on hold in 2011 due to financing, property owner EBL&S Development submitted its updated application to demolish the Kmart and Michaels Arts and Crafts at 1700 and 1790 S. Delaware St. just north of State Route 92.
Kmart closed its doors Sunday and Michaels Arts and Crafts, which appealed to the City Council in December to relocate to the old Borders site at 2925 S. El Camino Real after being denied by the Planning Commission, will stay open until it relocates Oct. 24.
In place of the retail stores, EBL&S proposes constructing 599 residential units, between 25,000 to 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and between 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of office space, according to a staff report.
The residences will be comprised of studio, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom apartments and townhomes, according to the report. Per the city’s requirements, the Station Park Green will provide up to 90 below-market rate units.
Parking will be enclosed in an above-ground structure and hidden with the residences and offices buildings wrapping around, according to the report.
The developer proposes at least 777 parking spaces for residences and 134 non-residential spaces, according to the report.
The new transit-oriented development will also provide about 2.3 acres of open space and a 1.1-acre park, according to the report.
“Ideally, anybody is invited to go on in and use the park and open space on the project. So we’re looking at how we think it’ll be attractive to the public,” Planning Commissioner Rick Bonilla said. “So when you look in from Delaware Street, does it look inviting and something you want to go hang out at.”
Bonilla and Drechsler said Tuesday’s study session primarily revolved around how residents, commuters and pedestrians would navigate the site.
Instead of the eight developed blocks EBL&S proposed in 2011, it now seeks to construct four larger buildings, according to the report.
Bonilla and Drechsler said they suggested the developer focus on an architectural design that would break up the large mass of the buildings to encourage non-residents to traverse through the site.
“The aesthetic impacts of the building, so they’re not floor to ceiling flat and very monoplane in their appearance. So we’re looking for things like … more dimensions, different materials, certainly a color variety helps the aesthetics of the building to feel like it’s not so monolithic. And I think the developer was agreeable to that,” Drechsler said.
Alan Talansky, senior vice president of development for EBL&S, did not return a call for comment.
Bonilla said Station Park Green would help boost growth at the neighboring Caltrain station by encouraging residents and those who live or work in the surrounding area to use public transit.
“Up until now, the Hayward Park station has been kind of a sleepy backwater for Caltrain and at one point they even wanted to close it. But we fought to keep it open because we were building transit-oriented developments all around it,” Bonilla said.
Station Park Green aims to be eco-friendly with an integrated storm water management system, bike paths, drought tolerant landscaping and achieve gold level per the California Green Building Standards Code, according to the report.
Bonilla and Drechsler said although EBL&S has discussed using sustainability features, they would like to see it go a step further by installing solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations and perhaps renewable energy technology that recovers heat from wastewater.
The plans for the new site have been in the works for years, and now that the developer is pushing ahead, Drechsler said the commission will strive to make it a true pedestrian friendly and sustainable transit-oriented development.
“It has a very large impact on the surrounding areas and to make sure it’s thoughtfully timed and laid out is important,” Drechsler said. “I think it’s really important that we take these steps slowly and the planning department is making sure we’re following the same steps as they did with Bay Meadows.”
The Planning Commission will continue to hold study sessions on the Station Park Green development.