Bovet Road condo project up for discussion

Planning commission will hear changes made in plans to address residents’ concerns

SAN MATEO — A property owner hoping to raze a Bovet Road office building and replace it with 66 condominiums returns to the Planning Commission tonight with plans aimed at alleviating neighborhood concerns about the proposal’s height and density.

Bovet Road Development, the company that owns the 43,000-square-foot office building at 66 Bovet Road, hopes to demolish the aging building and replace it with a 154,000-square-foot condominium complex. Although the company’s executives considered renovating the office building, constructed in 1961, it just didn’t make sense, according to spokesman Dan Gray.

“To maintain it as an office, it would be a considerable investment to bring it up to a standard where it could compete with neighboring office buildings for tenants,” Gray said. “Couple that with the fact that the market for residential is relatively strong at this point, and it presents a unique opportunity to create a true ‘mixed-use avenue’ on Bovet Road.”

When Bovet Road Development brought the proposal to the Planning Commission July 11, neighbors criticized its 55-foot height, its density and its potential impact on neighborhood traffic and utilities. The new design proposal features more height variety, according to architect Richard Campbell, but some neighbors still oppose the project.

“The quality of life for everyone in this area goes down by adding such a project,” according to resident Rick Karr. “We already have too much traffic and do not want more.”

The Bovet Road area is zoned for executive offices, a zoning that allows for multi-family residences, according to city planner Lisa Ring. The 66 Bovet Road building is surrounded by newer and taller office structures, and its owners hope the new condos will create a live-work neighborhood with retail on nearby El Camino Real, Gray said.

If that happens, it would be a positive move for San Mateo, according to City Council member Jack Matthews.

In addition, while the city has an excess of office space, housing remains at a premium. “Our hope is that as housing becomes more available, the prices would be more stable,” Matthews said.

Though vacancies abound, office vacancies are at their lowest in years — 15 percent countywide and 19 percent in San Mateo, down from a countywide high of 28 percent in 2003, according to Bob Garner, executive vice president of Cornish & Carey commercial real estate.

The San Mateo Planning Commission meets tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 330 West 20th Avenue.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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