Redevelopment Questions and Answers
I have been asked several questions regarding our development/redevelopment projects. I hope to answer two of them here in this Forum.
The first question is: Why is there so much development/redevelopment activity happening at the same time?
The current development/redevelopment projects have reached what I will term “visibility” status. They have reached a point where most of us are able to get our “visual” hands around them. Two redevelopment projects (Chess/Hatch and Pilgrim/Triton) had their first public airing at a Joint Study Session (City Council and Planning Commission) in September, 2005 where the use of the land was reviewed.
In February, 2006 another Joint Study Session was held to discuss updates to the General Plan regarding the land use of these two areas. Once proposed policies to be included in the General Plan were tentatively approved, each of the owners was approached regarding the updated regulations, being asked if they were interested in upgrading their properties. From there, each of the two projects developed separately.
Pilgrim/Triton is the result of a Master Plan developed in a cooperative effort among the three owners of the total 20 plus acres. In the spring of 2008, the City Council certified the environmental document and approved General Plan and zoning changes for the Master Plan. This is a multi-phased project currently working its way through the Planning Process. Final Planning Commission Review and City Council review of Phase 1 is anticipated in early to mid 2009. From there, each phase of the project will be dependent on the scheduling of each of the three owners.
The Chess/Hatch Project is a collaborative effort between two owners to build an office complex on Chess Drive at the corner of Foster City Blvd. As was decided at a General Plan Joint Study session, there will be no housing on the north side of State Route 92. This project is not as far along as Pilgrim/Triton as the Environmental Impact Report will not be available until early 2009.
At the February, 2006 meeting, consideration of uses for the City-owned 15-acre site adjacent to the Government Center was also discussed. The 15-acre site was to be divided into senior housing and public square on 11 acres and the remaining 4 acres were set aside as a potential high school site. After many study sessions to discuss the 11-acre project (Mirabella and Parkside Plaza), expectations are that a use permit will be reviewed by the Planning Commission sometime in mid 2009.
These projects are reaching the point where concepts are becoming the visual reality of a long process that has been almost 3 years in the making. The coincidence of the projects reaching visual reality at the same time probably has more to do with the economic climate surrounding the start of the projects than any preplanning. Your City has taken a look at the future Foster City and what it will take to make it the same pleasurable location that most feel it is today; but measuring it by tomorrow’s standards.
The Gilead Sciences Corporate Campus Master Plan calls for the replacement of buildings to increase their current office and lab space. Their project is based more on the timing of their business model and not tied to any of the other three projects.
Another question that I have been asked is: Why are tall buildings being proposed when Fire Department ladders will not reach to the upper stories?
When buildings are over 75 feet tall, Fire and Building Codes require special fire and life safety systems that include a fire sprinkler system, specialized fire alarm system, water outlets on every floor, fire alarms and detectors, combinations of fans and compartments for smoke containment, emergency speaker for pre-recorded messages and directions, emergency telephone stations at every floor, strategic location of fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, and other site specific protection systems. Evacuations are accomplished via the protected stairwells NOT by firefighters on ladders. Fires in taller buildings are fought by firefighters working inside the structure rather than from the outside.
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I would appreciate your comments on this and other issues by emailing me at email@example.com.
October 22, 2008
Redevelopment Questions and Answers