Downtown Burlingame coming to life

BURLINGAME — A new retailer is expected to bolster the available retail options between Howard and Burlingame avenues, a high priority for city officials planning the long-term future of the downtown area.

Anthropologie, a high-end women’s, children and home décor retailer, is set to move into the 10,000-plus square-foot space at 220-234 Primrose Road after paying for an extensive remodel of the damaged property, said Cliff Woods, owner of the building.

A massive fire in November gutted the building, putting ABC Decorative Rugs and restaurants Yianni’s and Chicken! Chicken!, which Woods also owned, out of business.

Woods said his restaurant, a Burlingame favorite, just completed insurance settlements in August and is in the process of scouting new locations within the city. If the remodel is approved and Anthropologie moves in, the resulting rent payments would likely help in that goal, Woods said.

“We entertained some offers, and Anthropologie seemed like a good fit,” Woods said.

Plans call for turning the existing building with a concrete floor and walls and a wooden roof into a modern, steel- and glass-lined storefront. The Planning Commission, which reviewed the proposed remodel this week, expressed some concern about the glass-heavy design of the storefront. Revised plans are expected to head back to the commission at a meeting next month, city planner Ruben Hurin said.

The city held a brainstorming session, or charrette, last month on how to make Howard Avenue a better connection to the regional draw of Burlingame Avenue. Many of the discussions focused on how to make the street, one of the main arteries into Burlingame Avenue, a more attractive place to window-shop. As vacant properties in that area are snatched up, city planner Meg Monroe said it could only help reach that goal.

Across the street from the Chicken! Chicken! property, an appliance store hopes to move into a long-vacant space that housed a Wells Fargo bank branch. Kerns Jewelers also recently purchased a former hotel located off Howard at 214-216 Lorton Ave. and plans to move its operations there and rent out second-story office space.

“I think anything that brings people toward Howard, whether it’s on Park (Road), Lorton (Avenue) or Primrose (Road) is a good sign,” city planner Meg Monroe said.

Woods agreed, saying that particularly as plans to redevelop Safeway move forward, a revitalized area south of Burlingame Avenue will be a big draw for shoppers.

“I’m a believer in the downtown,” said Woods, whose restaurant was housed in its Primrose location since 1996. “It has a history of having strong traffic generators and independent businesses. It’s unique, it’s not just a mall.”

tramroop@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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