MidPen chosen to build senior housing in Foster City

re-formatted from The Lagonian Vol. II No. III

Developer chosen to build senior housing, retail on 15-acre lot next to City Hall

A developer’s proposal for 438 senior-oriented housing units and up to 50,000 square feet of retail has been chosen by Foster City Council as the blueprint for the development of 15 acres of city-owned land described by city officials as “Foster City’ crown jewel.”

The Oct. 17 decision comes after decades of uncertainty of the property’s future and after several months of review by city staff and councilmembers one more than three dozen developers’ initial interest in the site.

Foster City Community Partners — a team led by Urban Community Partners, LLC and includes Campus Properties, LLC, The New Home Company, Inc, Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition and Merrill Gardens and SRM Development — beat out a proposal for a continuing care retirement center (CCRC) from developer Sares Regis of Northern California.

The city and FCCP will now enter into a 60-day exclusive negotiating period during which specific business terms will be developed.

The business terms will be considered for approval in a public meeting tentatively scheduled for Jan. 3, 2012.

All four council members present at the meeting — Councilman Rick Wykoff was away on vacation — said that affordability of the units was a major factor in their final selection between the development proposals by Sares-Regis Group of Northern California L.L.P. and Foster City Community Partners.

City Council members agreed that rather than leasing the 15-acre lot, selling is the best option.

“We’re not going to let this land go for cheap,” said Councilman Charlie Bronitksy. “We need to get the right price for this land.”

320 of the 446 units in Sares Regis’ proposal were independent living units costing a non-refundable entrance fee of $378,000 for the smallest units and $598,000 for the largest units. To be 90 percent refundable, the entrance fee increased to $632,000 for the smallest units and $853,000 for the largest units.

Under the FCCP’s proposal, there would be 58 for-sale senior townhomes priced between $600,000 to $750,000, 100 for-sale senior condos for $375,000 to $530,000 and 42 for-sale condos above retail for $400,000 to $500,000.

The average Foster City resident may not be able to afford Sares Regis’ prices, said Councilwoman Pam Frisella.

“Flexibility is something that I looked at,” said Vice Mayor Art Kiesel on the different types of housing proposed by FCCP.

“We have to look ahead for a theme for that area, that neighborhood,” said Mayor Linda Koelling. “It’s going to be very important as it will be a destination area for many of the residents here and those vising our community.”

“I’m excited for what is going to get on that parcel of land,” said Koelling.

Members of the public had mixed opinions on the proposals.

“Now is the time to make a decision on this particular project,” said former Foster City Mayor and Councilman Marland Townsend.

He said he “unequivocally” supported FCCP because it would be “most affordable to most people in Foster City,” and because property taxes generated would benefit not only Foster City but the school districts.

One of six other speakers also said he supported FCCP.

Two residents, Jim and Claudette Main, spoke in support of a Sares Regis’ proposal.

“A CCRC is something that we don’t have [on the Peninsula],” said Claudette Main.

After the meeting, Ian Gillis of FCCP said the team was “very excited” to have been chosen.

Gillis is the President and a principal of Urban Community Partners, LLC, the main firm at FCCP.

FCCP members reached out to community members to address their concerns, said Charles McKeag of FCCP.