Sunrise project to begin again: Burlingame officials happy facility set to be finished next summer

Publish Date:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 1:52 pm EDT


News Organization:

San Mateo Daily Journal, San Mateo, California

Source URL:

With financing secured, a long-awaited building project at the corner of Trousdale and Ogden drives in Burlingame is finally moving along and is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2015.

Sunrise Senior Living celebrated a reground breaking of the four-story, 79-unit project at 1818 Trousdale Drive that was originally approved by the Planning Commission in 2006, but ran into bumps due to the 2008 economic downturn. Members of the City Council and the community had been very vocal about wanting to see the project move along, as some referred to the space as an eyesore.

“I was on the Planning Commission when it first went through,” said Mayor Michael Brownrigg, who took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the development of a new senior living community Monday afternoon. “There was a point when it was kind of testy between the parties. There was one 80-year-old guy that had tears in his eyes who said, ‘what’s it going to take to get rid of this building?’ I’m very glad to have this project back on track. We had to be tough, but you guys came back to the table.”

A loan was closed for the space, allowing for the project to be the fully funded, covering all hard and soft costs. About three to four weeks ago, the building began being assessed to ensure it was structurally sound. Remedial work will take place over the next month. Then new construction will begin over a 10-month period, said Jim Surdyk, vice president of W.E. O’Neil Construction company, the group working on the site.

Sunrise of Burlingame will offer assisted living and memory care programs to seniors and their families. The community will house about 80 units and up to 100 residents. Brownrigg noted the center is at a remarkable location since it is right next to Mills-Peninsula Medical Center and other nearby health facilities. Jeff Slichta, senior vice president of operations at Sunrise for the western region, also noted the area is very walkable and close to nearby shopping and restaurants.

“There’s such a need here,” Slichta said. “Palo Alto, San Mateo and Belmont Sunrises are pretty full. This site area will be a new urban way of senior housing. … It’s been as frustrating to us as it’s been to Burlingame. … We always like to have a positive relationship with any community. Upsetting City Council members and the community is never something we want to do.”

Last summer, community members met with Sunrise, airing their concerns about the empty space, which they said had become dirty and dangerous.

“We understand the project in its current state is not attractive,” Jerry Liang, vice president of corporate finance for Sunrise, said in December 2013. “It appears nothing is happening at the moment, but we promise we have been working very diligently since we last spoke.”

Back in May 2013, the company received a one-year building permit extension from the city, which expired May 28. The city gave the extension, contingent on certain commitments that Sunrise had to make. Progress reports, updates to the city, inspections of the unfinished structure and demonstration of progress toward completion of the project by the new building permit deadline were some of the stipulations.

“We waited a long time for it,” said Councilwoman Ann Keighran. “We hit a few bumps, but it will be an asset in the community.”

Community features are expected to include electronic health record systems, enhanced perimeter security and e-call systems, Wi-Fi connectivity, along with custom-designed furnishings and decor. Additionally, the center may offer two floors of memory care facilities, rather than the one floor originally planned.

“Six years late, we’re finding a pretty big interest in Alzheimer’s patients,” Slichta said. “We will really be flexible with the space. If there’s demand for memory care services, we will be able to do that.”

The latest updates on the development can be found at

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