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Millbrae claims more tracks for HSR, Caltrain threaten $250m TOD

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  • 10/25 SF Examiner
    Published Thursday, October 25, 2007, by the San Francisco Examiner Train may derail downtown plan The introduction of high-speed rail could threaten
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2007
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      Published Thursday, October 25, 2007, by the San Francisco Examiner

      Train may derail downtown plan

      The introduction of high-speed rail could threaten Millbrae's $250
      million Site One proposal.

      By Mike Rosenberg

      MILLBRAE -- The $250 million revamp to downtown Millbrae is being
      threatened by the high-speed train that could go through the city's
      BART/Caltrain station.

      The city's proposed development dubbed Site One, which would add
      condominiums, shops, offices, a movie theater and more around the
      station, would be impeded by the proposed project, Community
      Development Director Ralph Petty said.

      The California High-Speed Rail Authority has proposed a four-track
      alignment that would allow its proposed high-speed train to pass
      through, but Millbrae wants to keep the station at its current two-
      track alignment. The high-speed train would cost $40 billion and pass
      through the Bay Area between Sacramento and San Diego if approved by
      voters in November 2008, Rail Authority Executive Director Mehdi
      Morshed said.

      The proposed alignment, parking structure and security fencing would
      impede on redevelopment space, cause environmental impacts and hurt
      developer's chances of acquiring investments, Petty said. Because
      the Rail Authority has superior power of eminent domain over the
      city, if a compromise cannot be worked out, the city would have
      to rethink its plans and possibly scrap them altogether, he said.

      Millbrae has been working on its redevelopment plan for 10 years
      and appears ready to begin construction in 2009. Ironically, the
      city may have to use eminent domain to buy out the businesses in the
      redevelopment area if property owners do not agree to sell their

      The city sent a letter last week to the Rail Authority asking it
      to reconsider its current plans. In it, a consultant to the city
      complains that the city reached an agreement in 1999 and 2001 with
      Caltrain and SamTrans, which said that the high-speed train project
      would not jeopardize their redevelopment plans. The city also accused
      the Rail Authority of not properly coordinating with Caltrain and
      BART on the project.

      The Rail Authority is in the process of hearing comments from cities
      with stations, Morshed said. The group is not even certain yet
      whether the Millbrae station would be on the train's route, he said.

      "If it's established that the train will go through there, then we'd
      work out with the city, the community and landowners in a cooperative
      way to come up with a mutually beneficial solution," Morshed said.

      Caltrain has plans to expand to a four-track system throughout areas
      of the Peninsula regardless of the high-speed train, said spokesman
      Jonah Weinberg. Its plans should not affect the redevelopment,
      though, because Caltrain would only expand on its own property, he

      Best-laid plans

      Millbrae's redevelopment plans around its BART/Caltrain station could
      be in jeopardy.

      * Eight acres of land, with development on five acres
      * 231 condominiums
      * 105,000 square feet of retail
      * A 131-room hotel
      * A six-screen art house cinema
      * 40,000 square feet of office
      * A 900-space, two-story underground parking garage

      Source: City of Millbrae
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