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Foster City: Started from the Outside In

Third in a series on development trends in the Bay Area. NEXT WEEK: Mixed-use project brings new life to San Francisco's Western Addition.

June 05, 1988|DAVID M. KINCHEN | Times Staff Writer

FOSTER CITY, Calif. — This San Mateo County community of 28,000 on the shores of San Francisco Bay and the planned community of Reston, Va., in the rolling, wooded hills of Fairfax County outside Washington, wouldn't seem to have much in common.

They do: Like Reston, Foster City was a planned community from its start in the early 1960s, when developer T. Jack Foster created it out of four square miles of reclaimed San Francisco Bay land called Brewers Island. Also like Reston, housing in Foster City was built before the downtown area was developed.

While older communities are redeveloping their downtowns--often with mixed-use projects, both Foster City and Reston are doing something about creating a downtown that is at once user-friendly and people-oriented.

Foster City's downtown is called Metro Center. Located near the intersection of California 92 and the Bayshore (101) Freeway, the $350-million project is one of a few mixed-use developments of its kind in Northern California. It was designed from the start to include housing, according to Rick Marks, director of planning and development services for Foster City.

A spokesman for Prometheus Development Co., San Mateo, said that his firm's Cupertino City Center in Cupertino combines two office buildings totaling 299,000 square feet with 99 apartment units. The phase now under development includes twin office buildings pre-leased to Apple Computer Co. totaling 342,000 square feet and a 240-room hotel. The final phase will have another 99 apartment units.

"Southern California equivalents are places like Century City in Los Angeles, the South Coast metro area in Orange County and Warner Center in the western San Fernando Valley," Marks said.

The housing component of the 100-acre Metro Center--325 townhouses included in an updated version of row houses common in cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia--were so popular that the first phases were sold before they were built, at prices ranging from about $160,000 to $180,000. They now sell for $180,000 to $250,000, Marks said, adding that 247 have been constructed.

Master Planned Project

"Under current zoning, our population will be 30,000 when all the housing is built," he added. "There is a proposal for more than 1,500 apartment units in Vintage Park, another large mixed-use project not far from Metro Center, and market studies show there is a demand for more apartments."

Metro Center is being master planned and developed by Transpacific Development Co., Torrance. The firm is also represented in the Bay Area with Oakland's Lake Merritt Plaza, a 27-story building designed by the San Francisco office of St. Louis-based Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) that was completed a few years ago and is more than 75% leased.

HOK is the architect for Metro Center, where the 22-story, 400,000-square-foot Metro Tower is a joint venture with the Fox Group, which occupies 200,000 square feet of space, according to James M. Kessler, marketing director for Transpacific Development.

He added that Metro Center so far includes the tower; a 140,000-square-foot, four-story building; the townhouses; The Marketplace, a 35,000-square-foot retail center, and a 147-room Marriott Courtyard hotel.

"A second 140,000-square-foot, four-story office building is under construction, and we have plans for 120,000 square feet of additional office space, a 105,000-square-foot retail center and a 300-room hotel/health club," Kessler said.

In a Peninsula and Silicon Valley office-space market that has a surplus of space, Metro Center is more than holding its own with 542,000 square feet of space leased, he added.

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