Brisbane's Sierra Point may get a plaza

After languishing for years as a suburban office park with an incredible view, renewed business interest in Sierra Point could lead to a public plaza there for all to enjoy.

With building applications in for a five-building biotech campus and an 800-room resort hotel-condominium project on the bayfront land, city officials are turning their eye toward a public plaza to give Sierra Point some “heart,” officials said.

Today, a joint session of the Brisbane City Council and Planning Commission will vote on conceptual designs of the plaza, which include necessary land trades with private entities on the land, and a level of retail development around the proposed public space.

The proposed plaza would be located near the marina at the eastern end of Sierra Point Parkway, protecting the public view east of the Bay as Sierra Point becomes more and more built out.

“There’s no ‘there’ there right now,” said Community Development Director Bill Prince of Sierra Point. “This is really a case of an attempt to retrofit one of those suburban office districts with perhaps a more successful mix of uses,” he said.

But because Sierra Point is somewhat isolated from surrounding communities and the majority of its population is around during the workweek, usage of the plaza is a concern, according to a city staff report.

In a memo to Brisbane officials, Tim Kelly, a real estate adviser with Keyser Marston Associates, a consultant group hired by the city, said providing ground-floor retail was “an important component in the success” of the proposed space.

“The public realm can become a destination drawing users who will patronize the businesses,” Kelly said.

He added in his memo that residential development on Sierra Point was “essential” to the viability of retail and the success of the plaza because between the proposed condos and hotel, the 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week environment would provide additional support to any bars, restaurants or coffeehouses there.

There is no residential development allowed on Sierra Point, which could change if Universal Paragon Corp.’s resort hotel and condominium project is approved.

“[The hotel proposal] could really inject a soul into Sierra Point that it currently doesn’t have,” Prince said.

“If there are people living there they’ll want some walking space,” Mayor Steve Waldo added.

Potential growth

SLOUGH ESTATES USA

» Biotech campus of five buildings on 22 acres with 540,000 square feet of research and development space and 2,500 square feet of retail

DIAMOND INVESTMENT PROPERTIES

» Mixed-use redevelopment on a 10-acre site with a 12-story office building

UNIVERSAL PARAGON CORP.

» An 800-room resort hotel-condominium project with two 14-story towers on 11 acres

OPUS SOUTHWEST CORP.

» Four or more mixed-use buildings on more than 40 acres with up to 630,000 square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of retail

– Source: City of Brisbane

dsmith@examiner.com

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