Leaders Talk Peninsula Development

With tech giants expanding in the area, the Peninsula is on a roll. A recent commercial real estate event presented by Bisnow focused on Peninsula development. Held at the Marriott near Bay Meadows, the crowd was standing-room-only.

Chris Meany of Bay Meadows’ developer Wilson Meany noted that “Bay Meadows is at an exciting moment because all the infrastructure is in place, there are public parks, some residential is already there and offices are coming on line.” He applauded Stockbridge Capital Group and the City of San Mateo for being ahead of the curve, focusing development at a train station.

Chris says he was fortunate to get a long-term development agreement for a mix of office, residential, retail, open space and a “social street.” With market dynamics, he noted, Wilson Meany was able to deliver residential when the office market was slower and now that office is hot, they are able to deliver both. “Even when the market is good we have to think about all the threads we need to weave together to make a project work.”

Chris Meany (right), principal of Bay Meadows' developer Wilson Meany, at Bisnow panel

Chris Meany (right), principal of Bay Meadows’ developer Wilson Meany, at Bisnow panel

San Mateo Mayor Maureen Freschet said her city is growing quickly, with over a million square feet of commercial space in the pipeline. During the recession, several projects went to a standstill; now three developments are moving ahead on Delaware Street. Thank the 2005 rail corridor plan for development along transit hubs.

She calls Bay Meadows a “world-class development,” and recognized that the goal is to get people out of cars and to work as close as possible to the community they live in. Mayor Freschet noted, “These days people don’t want to be tied to their cars, and both of my daughters commute via public transit around the Bay Area.”

San Mateo Mayor Maureen Freschet discusses growth issues at Bisnow panel.

San Mateo Mayor Maureen Freschet discusses growth issues at Bisnow panel.

Redwood City Mayor Jeffrey Gee says his city used to be a secret. Those days are done since Box moved in. Finding new creative ways to build housing in the area is critical, he says. “Land ownership in the Peninsula is king. If you’re an owner of what’s not the highest and best use, the pitch is they could keep that business and go up five stories with housing.”

Chris cautioned that “we must stop thinking just on a local level, but we have to start addressing these issues as a region.” Nonetheless, he said, we’re living in a blessed time when it comes to the health of our tech companies, VCs and universities.

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