Land deal to spruce up bustling spot in S.S.F.

One of the city’s busiest and most visible intersections — Chestnut Avenue and El Camino Real — could be the site of high-density, mixed-used development or a new public library in the next few years.

South City is in the process of purchasing roughly 10 acres — plus four more that would contribute to the city’s Linear Park project — from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission in a $21 million land deal funded by bonds sold for South City’s Redevelopment Agency.

Ideas for the property include transit-oriented development — the site sits along El Camino Real and between the Colma and South City BART stations — or a new public library, Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto said. She said the council wanted to purchase the property to have more control over what was constructed there.

“We also wanted to have a little more control because that’s a very visible place for South San Francisco,” Matsumoto said.

The intersection handles hundreds of cars a day coming south from Daly City and Colma on El Camino Real, while Westborough Boulevard takes drivers to and from Interstate 280. Chestnut connects drivers to the top of Grand Avenue and Hillside Boulevard.

The site borders Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco on El Camino Real and a commercial development on Chestnut. It used to be the home of a golf-driving range. But the site was cleared out when the BART airport extension was built, Assistant City Manager Marty Van Duyn said.

The city’s General Plan has the site designated for high-density residential and some commercial units. City staff is “likely to push for some mixed-use approach to that site” because the intersection is so “critical” to the city, Van Duyn said.

“It’s one where the city wants to make improvements and a statement with,” he said.

Once it is acquired it will become part of a master plan, and public hearings will be held to find out what the community would like to see there, Van Duyn said.

While the $21 million deal needs to be approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which is expected to happen within a month, the Public Utilities Commission has approved the land sale.

The Commission is selling off surplus land to help raise $52 million toward a new downtown “green” headquarters for its employees. With the expected $21 million from South City, the Commission has a total of approximately $39.1 million toward that effort, said Tony Winnicker, PUC spokesman.

dsmith@examiner.com


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