The Millbrae Planning Commission was just given its first chance to formally review a massive mixed use development to be built adjacent to the city’s Caltrain/BART staions. The “Serra Station” proposal calls for the construction of 440 housing units, 290,000 S/F of office space, and 13,200 S/F of retail – contained in two 10-story buildings and one 9-story building. This project is one of two major developments proposed in a 116 acre site surrounding the Millbrae Station, part of a city-led effort to build a vibrant economic hub around one of the peninsula’s most central and connected transit centers. The other project, “Gateway at Millbrae Station”, is proposing the construction of over 300 rental housing units, 47,000 S/F of retail, and 160,000 S/F of office space.
In February of last year, city officials approved an update to the Millbrae Station Area Specific Plan, which preemptively completed much of the environmental work necessary for the development of the 116 acres site. Plans were submitted for both projects shortly after the update was approved by city council, but they had to go through a lengthy public review process before being put in front of the Planning Commission.
Sound familiar? Redwood City similarly completed environmental work for land downtown when they passed their 2011 Downtown Precise Plan. This was done in an attempt to jump start developer interest in the city’s downtown area – and it worked…. With fewer regulatory hoops to jump through for project approval, developers flocked to the city in droves.
Millbrae won’t see development on the same scale that Redwood City did. Their focus, at least for now, is on transit oriented development built around the Millbrae station. Plus, the environmental work was only done for two projects (albeit two very large projects), as opposed to the dozens of residential and commercial projects that had the way cleared for them by RWC’s Downtown Precise Plan. Still, the Millbrae station certainly has the potential to become something special. It is the largest intermodal terminal West of the Mississippi – connecting BART, Caltrain, SamTrans, and if all goes as planned, the California high speed rail. It also happens to be the peninsula’s most central public transit hub, offering easy access to the East Bay, SFO, the Oakland Airport, San Francisco, and San Jose. With the area around it developed, this station could become a desirable place for people to to eat, shop, work, and live, rather than just a pitstop that travelers hurriedly pass through on the way to their final destination.
Check out this marketing video for the Gateway at Millbrae Station. The project’s developer, Republic Urban, put it together, and it offers a remarkably detailed representation of their vision for what the Millbrae station could become in several years time.