Sierra Point closer to reality

A proposal for a massive biotech complex at Brisbane’s isolated Sierra Point peninsula was given the green light recently, potentially paving the way for the addition of 1,800 jobs to a city of less than 4,000 residents.

The Brisbane Planning Commission unanimously recommended the approval of the five-building research and development complex late Thursday night.

The complex would include 540,185 square feet of research-and-development space, a five-story garage and 15,000 square feet of retail. It is being proposed by Health Care Property, which owns buildings at South City’s neighboring Oyster Point. The City Council will hold hearings on the project in March.

Brisbane’s principal planner, John Swiecki, called the 23-acre biotech complex on Sierra Point Parkway and Shoreline Court a “logical extension” of the neighboring biotech hub in South San Francisco.

“There is a proven market and a proven track record in South City, which added a lot to the viability of Sierra Point,” he said.

But before garnering the approval of the Planning Commission, Health Care Property had to make several design changes to the bay-facing garage structure on Sierra Point Parkway, reducing its height and lining it with stores and restaurants.

Planning commissioners also expressed their concern about the project’s effect on U.S. Highway 101. Lane changes will be made on the northbound Sierra Point offramp to better route morning traffic, but the project would still add traffic to the heavily traveled highway, said Swiecki.

The Planning Commission will now begin discussing building a public plaza and a hotel with residential condos at the site, which has been scheduled for development since the 1980s. According to the planner, the plaza is intended as a flexible space that may house a park or sports amenities.

“Ideally, there would be a restaurant component, convenience retail that would provide some services for the workers, and a destination for other residents to go out there,” said Swiecki.

For one Sierra Point restaurant, an influx of hungry biotech employees is good news.

“I always welcome business like that,” said Bogdan Garbe, manager of Xebec Bar & Dining in the Radisson Hotel. “We are the only restaurant in this neighborhood.”

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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