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Serramonte Center in Daly City set for major expansion

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Serramonte Center in Daly City will undergo a major expansion that will relocate existing tenants and add new stores and restaurants. The project is expected to increase tax revenue for the city. (Brendan P. Bartholomew/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Councilman Mike Guingona recently described the role Serramonte Center plays in Daly City’s cultural landscape as a sort of town square.

“Other towns have a Main Street; we have Serramonte,” he said.

The shopping mall, which opened in 1968 and sits at the intersection of state Highway 1 and Interstate 280, recently received approval for a major expansion that will relocate some existing tenants and add several new stores and restaurants, along with a 1,000-space parking structure. A movie theater, hotel and medical offices could eventually be added as well.

The redevelopment will cost about $109 million and add at least 200,000 square feet of retail space to the 80-acre property, said Bill Brown, executive vice president of development at Equity One, the Florida-based company that acquired Serramonte in 2011.

Brown estimates the project will create about 900 new jobs, and provide temporary employment for several hundred construction workers. And because the mall’s existing businesses are currently generating annual sales of about $450 per square foot, he believes the added capacity will generate an additional $1 million per year in sales tax revenue.

The facility’s increased valuation will probably yield an additional $2 million in property taxes, Brown said, but he was not sure what Daly City’s share would be.

These numbers sound great to Guingona, whose town has been operating with a structural budget deficit for several years.

“In terms of economic drivers, this is one of the biggest things that has happened to Daly City in the last two decades,” Guingona said.

While a hotel use has been approved for the site, no firm plan to build one currently exists. But as far as Guingona is concerned, that hypothetical hotel can’t come soon enough, because it would provide transient occupancy tax revenue for the city.

In the near term, one of the first additions will be a Dave & Buster’s bar and restaurant. The franchise — known for offering billiards, shuffleboard and video arcade machines — will occupy the second floor of an extensively redeveloped space between the existing Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods stores, Brown said. He added that the Daiso Japan retail store currently in the southeast quadrant of the mall will move into the first floor of the new building.

Redevelopment projects in San Mateo County often face stiff opposition from neighborhood and homeowner associations worried about increased traffic and other impacts. In 2013, residents lost a long battle to prevent an 80-unit housing complex from being built at the former Christopher Columbus Elementary School site, less than a mile from Serramonte Center.

But Brown said neighbors have not opposed the Serramonte project, partly because Equity One has a robust plan for traffic mitigation that includes improving five intersections around the mall.

Guingona confirmed that the project has met with no resistance from community members, noting that the developer had worked closely with officials from neighboring Colma to ensure traffic mitigation would be well coordinated between the two towns.

And what of Serramonte’s status as the closest thing Daly City has to a town square?

Although the mall will soon feature more density, Brown promised there will still be plenty of room for the year-round farmers market hosted in the parking lot Thursday and Saturday mornings, and Off the Grid’s popular Tuesday night food truck event will be similarly unaffected.

The mall’s central common area is also scheduled for a renovation, Brown said. That space has hosted public outreach tables, booths and activities from a variety of nonprofit and community organizations over the years. And given that Daly City officials have described Serramonte as “a strong community partner,” it will likely continue to be a focal point for civic and social activity.

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