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APRIL 23, 2004

More transit villages on the way

San Mateo County Times

The BART station that came online here last June hasn't attracted as many riders as hoped, but it has lured developers wanting to cash in by building housing nearby. 

South San Francisco approved in January a 360-unit transit village by Fairfield Development with a Trader Joe's store and room for smaller shops. Now developers are negotiating rights to build two other housing projects within the transit district the city created to embrace higher density projects close to BART. 

One of the transit-oriented projects likely will be on the 8.7 acre-parcel that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, or SFPUC, is selling. It's probably the largest undeveloped lot left in the city, said Senior Planner Mike Lappen. 

Developers' bids and proposals for the site were due this week to the SFPUC, though public agencies also will have a shot at developing the site. 

Garret Dowd, director of Real Estate Services for the SFPUC, said the project likely will include low-to-medium-density housing and some commercial space. 

"We've asked South City what they'd like to see on the site," he said. 

He said the land likely will sell for between $6 million and $15 million, depending on whether it's sold as is or after the city approves a specific project. He said the SFPUC is selling the land because "the market is very strong right now and the timing is appropriate." 

Lappen said the zoning likely will allow for less than 100 units on the site, probably some townhomes and some condos, and developers would have to set aside 20 percent of a project for affordable housing. Residents could ideally walk or bike the quarter-mile to the BART station through a planned linear park over the BART tracks. Lappen said the linear park could be finished within five years. 

The second proposed project is a 70-to-90-unit project at 1410 El Camino Real. The Urban Housing Group is working with a planning commission subcommittee on the design, said Lappen. The developers have about 1.5 acres and are hoping to acquire another 1-acre parcel. 

Lappen said the city still is looking for a place to build a child care facility in the area to accommodate the new growth. 

The city received almost $1 million from the County for the Fairfield Development project as part of an incentive program that encourages cities to build transit-oriented development. The two other possible projects would also be eligible for County funds, said Lappen.

Emily Fancher can be reached at efancher@sanmateocountytimes.com

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