Housing, retail site may also get school

The city’s last piece of undeveloped land will likely be filled by a mixture of senior housing, apartments or condominiums, ground-floor retail, restaurants and possibly a public charter high school.

After hours of testimony Tuesday night from residents, including many who supported the creation of a high school, the Foster City Council asked staff to seek development proposals for the mix of uses. Proponents of a charter school will be given a one-time shot at creating a winning plan for a small portion of the 15-acre site adjacent to City Hall.

“We can give a school a certain amount of time,” City Councilmember Pam Frisella said. “But if it doesn’t happen, we don’t want to hear about it ever again.”

Councilmembers grilled representatives from the Foster City High School Foundation, the group raising money and developing a plan for a charter high school in the city. The foundation is aiming to create a charter school to serve 350 to 500 students in a predominantly math and science program that would require approximately 45,000 square feet of space, according to board member Mark Chang.

Prior efforts to build a public or private high school on the land have failed.

Representatives from Summit Preparatory, which operates a public charter high school in Redwood City under the Sequoia High School District, said at Tuesday’s meeting that they have been in talks with the FCHSF about the creation of a charter school in Foster City.

“Summit was intended as a model for how to build other charter high schools,” Summit board member Chris Buja told the City Council on Tuesday. However, Summit has not created any formal endorsement for or partnership with the foundation, Buja said Wednesday.

In May and June, 1,106 Foster City residents responded to a citywide survey regarding the site. Nearly 900 asked for some form of school, while others asked for housing, retail, cultural destinations or more park space.

City councilmembers, who want to develop the land to raise money for city coffers, unanimously agreed Tuesday that they would prefer to lease the property, rather than sell it to a developer.

“If we sell for a lump sum, we won’t have control over future councils who might spend that money unwisely,” Councilmember Ron Cox said.

Foster City could bring in $3.5 million per year in leasing revenue from a mixed-use development with housing, cultural and educational components, according to consultants with Hulberg & Associates.

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