The development of the old drive-in site at 300 Airport Boulevard made a large step forward Monday night when the City Council approved two resolutions and three ordinances paving the way for the construction of a 767,000-square foot, five-building office and life sciences campus.
The Council signaled support for the project by approving the environmental impact report (EIR), amending the Burlingame Bayfront Specific Plan, passing changes in zoning codes and approving a development plan with the developers, which is intended to provide office, life science and public uses in a pedestrian-friendly campus.
This decision came more than two years after New York-based developers Millennium Partners applied for the project.
“We’re trying to provide the opportunity for a variety of activities to occur out here so there’s a variety of reasons folks would want to come here,” said architect Tom Gilman of DES Architects. “The idea [is] of mixed use as really creating a lot of energy and really becoming a destination.”
In January 2012, coming across the bay to Coyote Point, a popular launch site uniquely suited for beginnings and home of Boardsports School and Shop.
Although they disagreed with the wind study conducted by Millennium Partners in the EIR, the windsurfers came to an independent agreement with Millennium, through which the group will help the windsurfers locate new, nearby launching spots to the north and south of the project.
Burlingame and San Mateo residents also shared concerns about traffic impacts of the project. The new development boasts a four-story parking garage and adds an additional estimated 1,000 vehicle trips per day during peaks hours and 6,000 trips throughout the rest of the day.
“As it is now, people cut through my street,” san San Mateo resident Joanne Bennett. “I think it’s a beautiful building, I love the landscaping but…I’m concerned about the density.”
However, the developers countered with a plan that will bring BART shuttles to the area, contributes financially to the Burlingame hotel shuttle--which employees will be able to use--and provides public transportation subsidies to employees. They will also contribute $1 million to the Broadway interchange renovation. Residents were reminded the spaces at the site would also be available to the public using the amenities planned.
“My judgment is that the merits do outweigh the potential costs, in part because of additional revenue to the city, in part because of additional activity, in part because of the public open space of three-and-a-half acres,” said Councilmember Michael Brownrigg. “My concentration has been, ‘What makes this an asset to the community?’”
The site plan calls for an amenities building housing a gym, childcare and dining, and retail is planned for the first floor of the office buildings. In addition, the project will improve the bayfront trail, provide educational nature nodes along the bay, create open spaces and areas sheltered from the wind and widen the Sanchez Channel for increased water sports. Additionally, the project is estimated to create 25,000 new jobs.
Brownrigg did express concern regarding the upkeep of the public amenities, saying he wanted to make sure there was a commitment from the developer to keep the site an asset to Burlingame in the long term. Vice Mayor Ann Keighran echoed that sentiment.
“You’d hate to put all this work into this and it’s not maintained over the long term,” she said. “I want to make sure there’s follow through on this.” She suggested creating an economic subcommittee or ad hoc committee charged with checking in on the maintenance of the site.
This project will develop one of the largest remaining parcels in Burlingame. Two of the office buildings will have five stories, one wil have seven and one will have eight, all oriented east to west.