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BioMarin/Whistlestop/EDEN Housing

999 Third Street

APN: 011-265-01
Address: 999 Third Street
Project Numbers: ZC18-002, ZO18-003, S18-001, ED18-087,
UP18-034, GPA18-001, DA18-001, SP18-006

CDR17-008-- completed 03/14/2018

Applicant: BioMarin, Shar Zamanpour
Project Planner: Sean Kennings
(415) 533-2111
Biomarin E and P
Whistlestop E and P

Project Description

BioMarin, in conjunction with Vivalon (formerly Whistlestop)/EDEN Housing, submitted a planning application for a proposed development on 999 3rd Street in downtown San Rafael. The project site, between 2nd and 3rd Streets (at the corner of Lindaro), is approximately 133,000 square feet in size.

The property owner, BioMarin, proposes to construct two, four-story 72’ tall buildings for the purposes of laboratory/R&D and general office spaces. BioMarin’s buildings would each be four stories, but with large floor to ceiling heights to accommodate infrastructure and facilities for their laboratory/research & development needs.

The Vivalon/EDEN Housing would be developed on a 15,000 sq. ft. portion of the property at the northwestern corner of the site, corner of Brooks and 3rd Street. The Vivalon/EDEN Housing component proposes a 6 story, 70 ft tall building with a senior center on the first two floors and 67 senior housing units on the upper four stories.

The formal application requires review and approval by the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission and ultimate approval by the City Council for in order to proceed.

The application includes the following:

  • Expansion of the existing Planned Development (PD) zoning designation that applies to the SRCC to encompass the 999 3rd St property.
  • General Plan Amendments to: 1) modify the maximum intensity of nonresidential development and assigned floor area ratios (FARs), reducing the FAR of the 999 3rd St site from 1.5 to 0.90 and increasing the FAR of the SRCC to 0.9, with 0.90 as a blended ratio across the expanded PD; 2) allow for the use of blended FAR for Downtown PDs under single ownership or unified control, consistent with current General Plan Policy LU-9.b.2 which allows for a transfer of FAR among Downtown project sites; and 3) establish a height bonus for the 999 3rd Street site to accommodate the BioMarin component of the project which requests upto a 20 ft height bonus in exchange for BioMarin providing specified amenities and community benefits.
  • Approval of parking ratios appropriate to the proposed uses, considering the overall needs of the SRCC and the effectiveness of BioMarin’s Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Program, which would be expanded to apply to the entire BioMarin campus in San Rafael, including the 999 3rd Street site. BioMarin’s application also includes a contingency plan that addresses future scenarios in case of a change in tenancy or ownership that results in a greater parking demand than assumed for this project.
  • Continues the previous approval granted for a new 72,396 sq ft office/R&D building on a portion of the Lindaro St parking lot

BioMarin’s proposal also provides the following public benefits:

  • Donation of a portion of the property, valued at $1.2 million, for the development of a healthy aging center and affordable senior housing (Vivalon/EDEN Housing);
  • 3,500 square feet of retail space and 6,000 square feet of landscaped plaza open to the public during daytime hours at the corner of 3rd and Lindaro streets;
  • Donation of funds for the development of a bike lane on Lindaro Street from 3rd Street to Anderson Drive; and
  • Donation of funds to enhance pedestrian safety with improved sidewalks and crosswalk design at the corner of Lindaro and 2nd streets, as well as 3rd Street and Lootens Place.
  • Donation of $900,000 toward traffic synchronization or shuttle service, or other transportation improvements, as determined necessary by the City
  • Temporary use of the site for public parking until such time as construction on the BioMarin component of the project commences
  • Continued public use of 2,500 sq ft conference room, public access to park along Mahon Creek (behind 750 Lindaro and 781 Lincoln Ave), and off hour public parking on the Lindaro St surface parking lot.

Vivalon’s portion of the project also proposes the following concessions:

  • Approval of a mixed-use building for Vivalon/Eden Housing with additional residential density and height, and reduced landscaping and parking via application of the State’s Density Bonus Law and in accordance with Section 14.16.190 of the City’s Zoning Ordinance.

The Vivalon portion of the project would include a requested 16-ft height bonus and density bonus as concessions under the State Density Bonus law and the City’s density bonus provisions.

Current Status

The project was reviewed as a Conceptual Design Review by the Design Review Board on February 6, 2018 and then by the Planning Commission on February 27, 2018.

The project was then reviewed by the Planning Commission on May 14, 2019 as a study session and then by the Design Review Board as a formal application on June 18, 2019. The DRB will hold a follow-up review on the recommendations made during their June 18th meeting on August 20, 2019.

Concurrently, the City of San Rafael has contracted with Amy Skewes-Cox to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The EIR evaluated potential project impacts for areas of environmental concern such as, visual impacts, traffic and circulation, air quality, noise, greenhouse gas emissions, hydrology and drainage, and hazardous materials. A scoping meeting to receive agency and public input regarding the EIR was conducted on March 12, 2019.

The Draft EIR was completed and published for a 45-day public review period, commencing on Friday, August 9, 2019 and ending on Monday September 23, 2019 at 5pm. The public review period concluded with a public hearing before the Planning Commission on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The Commission accepted all written and oral comments and directed staff to prepare the Final EIR.

The Final EIR was completed and released for public review on January 13, 2020 The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 to consider the Final EIR, along with the project merits and planning applications and provide their recommendation to the City Council. In conclusion, the Commission adopted seven Resolutions recommending approval of the project  to the City Council.

The City Council reviewed the Final EIR, and the project merits and ultimately approved the project on March 23, 2020  and held the second ready for the ordinances on April 6, 2020.

The project stands approved. Whistlestop will be pursuing the development of their portion of the project in the next year or two, while BioMarin has 10 years through the adoption of a Development Agreement to pursue the construction of their portion of the project.

A building permit application was received on January 19, 2021.

A building permit was issued April, 13, 2022 and the project is currently under construction.

Pease see the City Public Meetings Page for meeting minutes.

Past Meeting Information

Meeting Type
February 6, 2018 (Conceptual Design Review) Design Review Board
February 27, 2018 (Conceptual Design Review) Planning Commission
March 12, 2019 (EIR Scoping/Notice of Preparation) Planning Commission
May 14, 2019 (Study Session) Planning Commission
June 18, 2019 (Formal Design Review) Design Review Board
August 20, 2019 (Final Design Review) Design Review Board
September 24, 2019 (Draft EIR hearing) Planning Commission
January 28, 2020 (Final EIR and project merits) Planning Commission
March 23, 2020 (Final EIR And project merits) City Council
April 6, 2020 (2nd Reading of Ordinances) City Council

Please see the City Public Meetings Page for meeting minutes and staff reports.

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