San Mateo studying mixed-use condo plan 

Developers are moving ahead with plans to build 154 condominiums and ground-floor retail on the former Shen auto dealership site, where proposals in prior years have failed.

Devin Hassett, who is guiding the Centex Homes project, thinks the proposed mix of residential and neighborhood-serving retail is better suited to the 3.11-acre site at 800-888 North San Mateo Drive than past proposals. An all-commercial concept from Salvatore Caruso failed in 2004 after residents raised concerns over parking, traffic and the influx of large delivery trucks that would have served the proposed grocery store.

The San Mateo Planning Commission will hold its second study session on the Centex proposal tonight.

"The concept is to revitalize the block," Hassett said of the site, which includes the former dealership and a fenced-off vacant lot located approximately one-third of a mile from the Burlingame Avenue Caltrain station. "This area is ideal for smart growth and transit-oriented housing."

The new design includes plans for a central, publicly accessible courtyard, plus a pool and fitness center for residents.

However, some in the city doubt that a project made up of one- to three-bedroom condominiums will attract transit users, since many families have kids to haul around, according to Planning Commissioner Bertha Sanchez. In addition, neighbors said at an April study session that their concerns over traffic and parking continue, while some object to its density of nearly 50 units per acre.

In addition, "It’s no secret that a lot of us [on the commission] wanted to see another auto dealership back in place," Sanchezsaid, particularly in light of the fact that Veracom opened a Ford and Mitsubishi dealership across the street in 2004.

The San Mateo Planning Commission meets tonight at 7:30 at City Hall, 330 West 20th Ave.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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