Thursday, July 28, 2016

More about Gateway at Millbrae BART project

To update you on the Gateway at Millbrae BART project, on July 14th the Daily Journal published  another article  on the subject - "116-acre Site Clash Continues: BART Developer Wants to Break Ground, but Millbrae Official Still Remains Critical".

So what arguments remain? Not surprisingly, the City officials worry about the traffic impact while Republic Urban, the developer, worries about losing the time window favorable for developers at the present time. No doubt, the traffic concerns have to be addressed. But I also hope that City officials have a vision for Millbrae’s future. What is it? How does the Gateway project fit this vision? Who will be the residents of Millbrae 20 years from now? What will be the City’s role in the context of its neighbors: Burlingame, San Bruno, but also San Francisco and Silicon Valley? It is unfortunate that we often plan the future based only on what we know best - our past. While reading the comments to the Daily Journal article I found a refreshing exception and it is a comment from a young Millbrae resident, Laurie Tanjuatco.

“I have lived in Millbrae for 19 years and I would love to see this project get built. I know there are traffic concerns but young people like me aren't driving as much anymore. We use car-share, uber, and we bike. We like to walk places and hate being stuck in a car. I want to see this project built - mostly because I want to grab cup of coffee or do some shopping while I'm waiting for BART.”

Laurie understands that one cannot plan the City based exclusively on the past. Maybe it is what Millbrae needs - an input from young adults - on what Millbrae should/could become?  The City of Millbrae officials should be planning and shaping the city for this generation! I know that the time is very scarce, but it is not too late to reach out to Mill High School students and the Peninsula young professionals and ask them to help come up with a vision of the City. Let's see if the Urban Republic proposal supports or could support such vision. No one can predict the future, but we definitely should try to envision the Millbrae of tomorrow. Only then we can really investigate how well the Republic Urban project might support this vision. After all Millbrae is not in a desert, but it is part of SF Peninsula, the most vibrant community in the entire country. Let’s make sure that Millbrae does not stay behind.

Gateway at Millbrae - Urban Republic

Monday, July 4, 2016

Gateway at Millbrae (BART) Project: time to move forward

The approvals for important development projects take time (and they should). The Gateway at Millbrae project is a small part of the much larger 1998 area plan and it predates the Millbrae BART station itself by five years (Curbed SF). Following years of planning and extensive deliberation the Millbrae City Council narrowly approved the policy guidelines for  future development in the 116 acre site near the station on February 9, 2016 (Daily Journal).

Gateway at Millbrae project rendering - Republic Urban

In early April, San Jose developer Republic Urban Properties updated the Millbrae Council on their latest plans for new housing, new office and retail space and a 116-room Marriott hotel (TOD 1). As described at the project website (Republic at Millbrae) the project envisions two phases, TOD #1 and TOD #2. 

The proposed TOD #1 project proposes new mixed-use development on the station properties located immediately west of the Millbrae Station. It proposes construct medium density multi-family residential units for up to 1,325 residents and office space for up to 1,148 employees. The project also includes underground parking and an enclosed galleria retail corridor. The proposed TOD #2 project proposes development for a BART-owned site that is located immediately east of the Millbrae Station.

Millbrae station - view from the above

For more information about the project you can watch the following video.

So, what's next?  The project is slated to be completed by mid-2019, given that there aren't more delays. The Millbrae Planning Commission meeting is supposed to happen in August-September time-frame. Following their recommendation - the City Council will meet to give its approval sometime in the fall of 2016. But, the project might need your help. I was approached to post the link to a petition to Millbrae Mayor Anne Oliva - We Support the Gateway at Millbrae Station. The petition will be delivered to all five Millbrae City Council members. We definitely need transparency from the Millbrae City Council in making this important decision, not only for Millbrae, but for the entire Peninsula.

I personally believe that project should go ahead, of course with public oversight of both, developer and the City of Millbrae City Council.