Decision looms for unused Foster City plot

The 15 acres of dirt next to City Hall is more than just undeveloped land to local leaders.

It’s a potential gathering spot for residents, much-needed housing for Foster City seniors and the source of revenue the city knows it will need in five years. And although the City Council could choose a developer for the site tonight, the decision will likely be delayed while questions are answered and input is gathered.

“We’re not in any major hurry,” Councilwoman Linda Koelling said. “We want to make sure that the decision we make is for the betterment of the community. I’m sure we still have a lot of questions, so I don’t think a decision could be made on Monday.”

While the site, considered to be Foster City’s final plot of undeveloped land, has always been important for development, it took on greater urgency at the May 14 budget meeting.

As declining development and extensive improvement projects drain the city’s Capital Improvement Project budget, Administrative Services Director Steve Toler said the revenue generated by housing and retail sales at the site are key to keeping Foster City financially above water.

“Our funds are dropping as we spend money to fund the synthetic turf at Catamaran and Sea Cloud parks, so we have to put things in place now to be able to generate revenues and maintain the existing service levels,” he said.

At an April 30 meeting — at which the three possible developers presented their ideas — a number of residents asked the council to take its time in selecting a contractor.

Although the three projects varied in scope and amenities, each developer aims to turn the land into 11 acres of multistory retail and commercial space with affordable senior housing options and open space for community events. Four acres of the site are earmarked to house the planned Foster City charter high school.

Each of the potential developers is a partnership between construction and nonprofit organizations. The first team is comprised of Pacific Retirement Services Inc., the Jewish Home of San Francisco and Sares-Regis Group of Northern California. The second is Bridge Housing, Pacific Union Development Co. and Retail West, and the final group is a partnership between A.F. Evans Co. and Crosspoint RealtyServices.

“It needs a lot of working through, I think there’s a lot to be done,” Foster City resident Rochelle Goldman said. “I don’t think that they can approve any one of those plans right off the bat.”

The City Council meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. today in council chambers, 620 Foster City Blvd.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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