The long-vacant El Camino Theatre at a key gateway to downtown San Bruno will soon make way for luxury apartments and new retail.
Sares Regis Group of Northern California acquired the one-acre site at 406-408 San Mateo Ave. last week for about $10.6 million, property records show. On tap are 83 rental units plus roughly 7,000 square feet of retail.
In the works for years under several iterations, the project’s momentum now is a sign of traction for development in the city’s compact downtown district, where a new Caltrain station opened last year. It’s the first project out of the gate following a downtown corridor plan that aims to facilitate more transit-oriented projects.
“The San Bruno downtown is coming together,” said Drew Hudacek, chief investment officer for Sares Regis. “This hits all the markers — a great location, downtown, transit.”
The theater was the city’s main movie house until a competitor opened up at the city’s Shops at Tanforan mall in the 1970s. The building was later divided up and played host to various businesses, but has sat largely empty for years. A previous attempt to redevelop the site in 2007 never happened.
Sares Regis picked up the site after it had been entitled by Oakland’s Signature Development Group. But Sares Regis is no stranger to the city. In a joint venture with TMG Partners, Sares Regis in the early 2000s master-planned a 20-acre site called the Crossing — a 10-year endeavor.
The new project was acquired in a partnership with Resmark Apartment Living, the company said. Demolition will start this summer, with construction slated to begin in earnest by the fourth quarter.
Hudacek said Sares Regis became involved in the project only a few months ago. It fits into the company’s strategy of investing in town centers on the northern Peninsula.
“We’re very focused on transit, focused on north San Mateo County,” he said. “These downtowns offer livability and walkability. We have a lot of places that some people in the country might perceive as suburban, but in reality they offer an urban lifestyle.”
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