Burlingame Safeway project revision earns resident approval

It’s been more than a decade since the first plan for a bigger Safeway in Burlingame was proposed; the start of the new year could finally bring an end to the battles over the project.

A public hearing on the most recent revision of the plan was held Monday, and responses were considerably more supportive than complaints that held the project back in previous years.

“There was a time I wasn’t so hopeful this would get completed,” said Maureen Brooks, Burlingame’s planning manager. “There’s been a lot of collaboration. I’m more hopeful this time around.”

A lot has changed since the project was first introduced 11 years ago, Brooks said.

In 1998, Safeway’s plans to rebuild its 31,000-square-foot store at El Camino Real and Howard Avenue were met with community resistance over the project’s scope — opposition that forced the company to retreat and rework its proposal.
In 2004, Safeway returned to the city with another proposal: a 66,900-square-foot building that would hold a Safeway and a Walgreens, currently a separate building on the lot. It was rejected by city officials.

Among the city’s concerns was the project’s proposed delivery-truck system because the commercial complex would have had its back to the downtown area of the city.

In 2007, the city created an ad hoc committee to help shape the next Safeway development proposal.

The latest plans were submitted in July. It includes a 45,645-square-foot store and a new two-story retail and office space adjacent to the project.

Concerns at Monday’s meeting concentrated on minor landscaping issues and building aesthetics, Brooks said.

Charles Voltz, co-chair of Citizens for a Better Burlingame — a community group that opposed the project in the beginning — said Safeway’s willingness to meet with residents and address their concerns saved the company and the city a lot of time and headaches in the end.

The company is currently working to make changes to the landscaping elements of the current plan, which could come back to the planning commission for a vote by its Jan. 11 meeting, Brooks said. The project would then go before the City Council for approval.

Safeway hopes to break ground on the project by the end of 2010, Brooks said.

Voltz said the project is in its home stretch.

“We’re down to the 2-yard line,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll get to the goal.”

Expansion plans

A development proposal to rebuild the Safeway on Howard Avenue in Burlingame:

– A new, bigger, 45,645-square-foot Safeway store
– A new two-story retail and office building at the corner of Howard Avenue and Primrose Road
– The existing building at 249 Primrose Road, formerly a Wells Fargo Bank, will be remodeled as a part of the project
– A total of 209 onsite parking spaces, including 103 spaces on the roof of the Safeway store
– The existing Safeway and Walgreens buildings will be demolished

Source: Burlingame Planning Department

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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