A huge proposed new biotech campus in Burlingame received rave reviews from the City Council and Planning Commission this week, offering a glimpse into the future of the Bayfront as a number of similar projects are expected to transform the area in the coming years.
The development is planned for a 12-acre site overlooking the bay, 1200 to 1340 of the Bayshore Highway on both sides of Easton Creek. Three 11-story buildings would encompass nearly 1.5 million square feet, and two 10-story parking structures would provide more than 3,500 parking spaces.
“We will convert this collection of abandoned buildings and parking lots into a hub for life science innovation,” said Virginia Calkins, senior development manager at DivcoWest, the developer overseeing the project.
The proposal is among the first to embrace the city’s new requirements aimed at coping with the expected sea level rise. Around the eastern perimeter of the campus would be built a dock designed to withstand potential flooding in the next century or more up to 17 feet above current sea level, 7 feet above the height of the lot. The berm is expected to connect with similar infrastructure that will be built by neighboring developers and ultimately by the county to protect the entire peninsula.
The project would also connect a missing quarter-mile portion of the bay path and include a restored tidal swamp area along the creek with a public plaza thought as capable of hosting food trucks, art exhibits or other events. The southern building will house a restaurant on the ground floor, overlooking a park area with an amphitheater near the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Bayshore Highway.
“It will really change our Bayfront,” said board member Ann O’Brien Keighran. “There are so many services that will be offered to our residents here in Burlingame and outside Burlingame.”
Calkins said he hoped to start construction next summer. The plans will subsequently be submitted to the Rights Planning Commission and are currently starting the environmental review process.
The city has received applications for at least three other life science-equipped campuses nearby, each measuring less than 500,000 square feet. Burlingame in recent years has begun to court such developments in the area, which was previously intended primarily for hotels. Before the pandemic, the city’s biggest source of revenue came from hotel tax, which plummeted as travel decreased.
“It is in a growing submarket and we will be the largest project within this submarket on the peninsula,” Calkins said of the biotechnology in the city. DivcoWest paid a total of $ 108 million for the 13 packages that make up the project’s site, according to the San Francisco Business Times.
According to DivcoWest estimates, the development would contribute more than $ 3 million annually to the city in taxes. A one-time payment of $ 54 million to the city would also be part of the deal, largely for affordable housing in addition to public facilities. Construction of the embankment was estimated at a cost of $ 20 million.
Community Development Director Kevin Gardiner said the proposal could serve as a model for what the city was looking for at the Bayfront.
“This is a much larger project than any other we’re looking at, so the scale is a little different, but definitely the approach is replicable,” he said. He noted that due to changes in the city’s master plan in recent years, the area will continue to see proposed larger buildings. “This is a paradigm shift in terms of the types of developments we have had in the Bayfront in the past.”
The three buildings will be more than 200 feet tall, nearly double the height of the neighboring Hyatt hotel and the adjacent One Bay Plaza building. One of the proposed biotech facilities down the street at 777 Airport Blvd. would reach a height of 226 feet.
The development would replace a Holiday Inn, Max’s of Burlingame deli-style restaurant, Caribbean Gardens restaurant and nightclub, Se Come Asi Taqueria, and more office buildings and ample surface-level parking.
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