15 Acre Site-Village Square

On Sunday afternoon I was driving to visit a friend of mine in Burlingame and I made the incredibly poor decision to stop by Peet’s Coffee in downtown San Mateo for a latte. Do you suppose I could find a parking place? I drove around and around for 20 minutes or more and after deciding that the latte wasn’t worth a cross town walk I made bad decision number two and headed for the downtown Burlingame Peet’s. Yes, I am stupid! Downtown Burlingame was worse than San Mateo. Why is it like this? Because they both have thriving, lively downtown areas filled with shops and restaurants and people want to go there. Both of them are destinations!

For as long as I can remember Foster City has lacked that kind of a downtown destination. As hard as we’ve tried it hasn’t been Edgewater Place or any of the other local shopping centers. For awhile it actually seemed to be that little strip center across from Costco that managed to hit all at once with Jamba Juice, Noah’s Bagels and Starbucks. It was hard to find parking there! As hard to believe as it is that was Foster City’s downtown for awhile.

As of last fall that’s all going to change. The city chose a developer, the Sares Regis Group, who’ll be creating a very exciting downtown area for Foster City on a large parcel of vacant land located between Foster City Blvd and Shell Blvd, and between the new Jewish Community Center and Hillsdale Blvd. The project is actually located on an 11 acre portion of the 15 acre City owned property in that area. The plans call for the following:

* A Continuing Care Retirement Community that would include Independent, Assisted and Memory care units as well as Skilled Nursing.

* A large outdoor area designed to host a variety of public and private events including outdoor seating for restaurants, a farmers market, art displays and entertainments areas.

* 31,300 square feet of retail/restaurant space in the first phase of the project and an additional 19,000 square feet of retail/restaurant in a future development phase.

The project should begin in 2009 and many of the design details are still not finalized but if this is worked out correctly, in my humble opinion, this project should effect property values in Foster City as positively as the Lagoons have. The inclusion of a downtown atmosphere, a destination spot, is just going to be a fabulous things for everybody in town. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the property values in Burlingame, San Mateo and San Carlos have remained strong a a result of their downtown’s attracting people there. Foster City’s waterfront location is an esthetically beautiful aspect to life here and adding the fun of a downtown destination will only make Foster City stronger than ever. Maybe one day there will even be a Peet’s there! Here’s a link to more info:



  1. I heard that the chosen design was the ugliest, in fact somebody said it looked like “third world public housing”. I sure hope not!

  2. Apparently the design was only preliminary, and the city’s working with the developer on a new design now. Pacific Retirement Services is a partner with Sares on the deal and PRS is actually the one doing the developing of the property. Newspaper articles have said that the city picked them partly because they were easy to work with, so I bet it will end up looking fine.

  3. Is this project separate from the Pilgrim-Triton project? I thought there was supposed to be more housing units contemplated than what’s shown in the Village Square proposal.

  4. Yes indeed, it is separate from Pilgrim-Triton and, your right, lots more housing units are planned there, in all shapes and sizes. There will be a blog post coming soon on this project. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Wade Collins says:

    The design is terrible. Foster City already looks like a bad mall that met a bad condo complex out of the late 70s. There is nothing authentic in this place, it has virtually no soul. Nice parks and homes aren’t all there is to creating a community. This area is too sterile, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  6. You make an interesting point about community and it’s pretty hard to argue about parks and houses not creating one. It’s also hard to argue in favor of Foster City’s primacy when it comes to architecture too. If we were to rank Foster City in comparison to Burlingame, Los Gatos, or San Carlos when it comes to architectural aesthetics how do you suppose it would rank? Under all of them if you ask me. The fact remains, in my opinion, that Foster City is in fact authentic in several ways. First, the waterfront nature of the town makes it virtually unique, Redwood Shores doesn’t count (talk about no there there!). It’s schools are uniformly excellent and the inclusion of a downtown, particularly if that downtown has the feeling of a destination, will rank it in the top 2 or 3 communities on the Peninsula going foward. After almost 20 years of selling houses on the Peninsula I sincerely don’t think there’s another town in the county that has more of a sense of community. Folks who live in Foster City are really serious about it. If you want to see soulessness you’ll find it in abundance in Redwood Shores. The best part of Foster City is this…it’s homes hold their value extremely well and I don’t think that’s going to change.

  7. The design is too square shaped and blocky for my tastes. I’d like to see a more progressive design similar to Santana Row and Stanford Shopping Center.

    Jim – just found this blog today, love it !

  8. Wade Collins says:

    I wasn’t criticizing the residents or the waterfront attractions of FC. I’m simply pointing out the obvious sterility of the town. Which may or may not correlate to the population. It’s very bland, full of corporate franchises, and shopping centers tend to be very crowded.
    Maybe you consider a power strip mall with franchise food “downtown like” but I don’t. That atrocity in San Mateo with the Whole Foods market and Golds Gym as anchors is god awful as well proving bad taste isn’t exclusive to FC. Take a real look around other cities such as Burlingame, it isn’t just that it’s downtown, it has a funkier lived in quality than anything Foster City proposes. FC doesn’t take advantage of it’s natural aquatic assets. The design here still looks like office park 2.0. I know your selling real estate so some of these issues are counter intuitive to this blog. Just know that not everyone here has kids or belongs to FC organizations. This is a bedroom community. But I would like to see more here, instead of having to drive out of the city for nearly everything. Thanks for the time.

  9. Jennifer Minkey-Selvitella says:

    Just curious Wade, what keeps you here? Have you thought about actually moving to Burlingame or SF? I have lived in both places, so I speak from personal experience. Neither have the same sense of community that FC has, plus from a safety/crime perspecitive, there is not a bad neighborhood in FC, nor a bad school, this is why families flock here. There is no other city around where you can actually walk, at any hour of the night, and not feel fearful. I was raised in Foster City and knew as soon as I had a family, there was only one place I would even consider raising them. ROCK ON Foster City!

  10. Ah Oh Wade, you’ve encountered my cousin! One of those “serious” Foster Citians I was talking about. I think I’ll back out gracefully.

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