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February 03, 2016



Do the owners of the former Post Office live in Burlingame or nearby? Or, is this just a pure investment play with a huge ROI as the only objective by owners who live in another country? Will Stanley Lo insist on putting an enormous marble statue of Rhodes straddling the parking lot? Just curious.

Preserve the core emblems

It's my understanding that the owners of the Post Office include Stanley Lo, along with a family in Hillsborough and several other investors from China. I could be wrong, but I believe that this is correct.

The US Postal Service was essentially forced to sell 3,300 post offices across the U.S. due to massive annual losses. Perhaps they're over-staffed and inefficient, and unlocking their gov't monopoly to competitors like FedEx and UPS took it's toll, but to the benefit of overall economic strength for US consumers. The argument for further subsidies to this mostly archaic service is that they are required to serve the most distant and inefficient markets of demand, which no market driven company would cover.

Their general downsize to 5,000 sf of leased retail makes more sense for everyone.

Regardless, the US Postal Service sold their property, and they were required by law to sell at the highest market value, which is driven by usefulness and income potential.

The ROI, cash on cash return and other metrics of investments will be maximized with higher density. Being forced to keep the west façade and the lobby significantly reduces the amount of underground parking and the amount of retail and apartments that can be built.

Perhaps it's too late with the sale deed covenant, but demolishing the west façade in favor of more underground parking and ROI, which includes more sales tax and property tax for the local and state gov't is probably worth it.

Areas like the lobby often are used for the entrance hall for the apartment buildings, which is how the developer is using the historic firehouse structure near Ralston and El Camino in Belmont, for example.

Bring back Blockbuster Movies! Those guys totally knew which movies I would like or not like... Change is inevitable. Preserve the core emblems (like the former city hall gable) and re-boot the rest.


The US Post Office had to sell off assets because it is the only government entity that is required to prefund it's long term pension and health liabilities. If all government entities federal, state and local had to do this they would be in just as bad or even worse shape than the postal service.


To Fred's very correct point, here is the official view of it:


The Law of Unintended Consequences then kicks in and we are faced with the community problem. But if the ROI isn't there because rules and historic designations need to be respected, that is the new owners' problem.


There is no chance in hell the developer will be able to preserve the facade and put in 50,000 square feet of retail.

Forget about 128 units of housing. He cannot physically fit this into envelope without a height and parking amendment.

Sorry I love change and Burlingame seems to be on the right track - but this is FAR TO DENSE for this neighborhood.

Ditch the west facade.

Developers always propose the most possible at first.

My point is...ditch the west facade.

Bruce Dickinson

Fellas, yesterday I got my real estate guy on the horn and in three minutes, he broke down the details. Let's just say we may have to nickname our infamous local real estate agent Stanley Buy High Sell Lo. He and his investors paid $15.7 million dollars for the site. With 50,000 square feet of ground floor space and another 100,000 square feet of living space, they will need to cough up another $60 million to $70 million+ dollars just to build the thing (250,000 square feet total for 5 stories!). This thing gets delayed long enough for the China bubble to finish popping and the ensuing financial carnage, you may be seeing a mini-Burlingame version of a half-built and minimally occupied Chinese ghost-city, or ghost-condo, as it were.

In addition to this being a situation of the "ego writing cheques that the body can't cash", it sounds like an uphill battle to get this thing approved, and Bruce Dickinson offers this: $11.5 million to take it off the investors hands. In one year, I almost guarantee you, the price offered will go down. If interested, have your guy call my guy and you know who he is.

The development as proposed is way too big and will forever change Burlingame, in a not-so-good way. Sounds like the City Council discovered it is a creature with vertebrae, ya know what I mean? Refreshing for a change, I tell ya.

Also, maybe the sour taste exists because too many may have been burned in real estate transactions that have been called, to put it politely, less than arms-length. In deal-making you reap what you sew over the long haul. You can take that advice right to the Bank of Dickinson, a bank that yes, has not abolished the gold-standard, ya know what I mean?


Another (big) city, chimes in on more "density" http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/SF-housing-density-plan-meets-opposition-6810769.php?cmpid=gsa-sfgate-result

Cathy Baylock

No, this is not a Donald Trump political ad, but kudos to the Donald for restoring the landmark U.S. Postal building in Washington D.C., adaptively re-using the building for a boutique hotel...Mr. Wang-lu, are you out there? https://www.trumphotelcollection.com/washington-dc/old-post-office-transformation.php

Keep the best, ditch the rest.

Adaptive reuse could offer the best of both worlds at the Post Office. As I mentioned a couple years ago, a "Living Roof" with a bar / restaurant on top would be awesome.

I'd encourage the council to remove the West Facade protection to enable more underground parking and more freedom of design and usefulness, and then cut off the actual West facade, facade and incorporate that into the West wall of the structure instead of being so attached to the bulk of that obsolete building.

I'm looking forward to the finished construction.


Mayor McFrosy Keighran made the evening a Spanish Inquisition with developer.
May I suggest it's not what you say but how you say It.

Please stop being so confrontational and mean with people you disagree with. Theses are your constituents whether you agree/disagree with their point of view. Try a little charm.

It is going to be a long journey developing the old post office.
Be a Mayor McFriendly Keighran and you just might get some of the things you want with this project.

Breathe, exhale and smile. :-).

Bruce Dickinson

Folks, let's focus on the facts. Unless my eyeglass prescription is completely wrong, the last time I checked, Keighran won her election by a landslide and got a lot more votes that Whining Wienie (take a guess who that is!)

Bruce Dickinson thinks that a much more assertive and aggressive posture is needed, and I for one I'm glad that Keighran seems to be the only protecting yours truly's as well as the majority of Burlingame's interests and is taking the job very seriously. You don't get to be the number one vote-getter unless you understand your constituents and represent them honestly and passionately.

Charm offensives, compromises, appeasement, couched lingo, and diplo-babble only work if you are a salesperson, and believe me, Burlingame doesn't need to be selling anything. I would suggest to readers also that you shouldn't be selling Burlingame short, that is, if someone wants to develop here, you make 'em earn it and have those developers crawl to us and show some respect for change! We do NOT want to look like Redwood City, Millbrae, or Diarrhea City, USA and that idea needs to be drilled into their greedy noggins. Pretty soon Bruce Dickinson is gonna take the drumstick and be playing cowbell with developers' heads!

I'm hopeful that the new City Council members follow Ms. Keighran's lead and verbally rough some people up, to show 'em who's running the show. That's one thing they apparently don't teach you at the DeVry School of Diplomacy: diplomacy only works so long as there is a credible threat of force.

Trust me, in this situation, and I have seen the same principles apply time and again in similar situations at the very upper echelons of success: the last thing you want is an empty suit!

Less Poodle and more Rottweiler, please. Woof!

Peter Garrison


Cathy Baylock

Yes. Mr Bruce. You da man!


Walk softly and carry a big stick.
Kill them with kindness.
Just saying. Meow 😺

the voters barely notice

Bruce, please meditate on the meaning of "Hubris"...http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hubris

Your starting to remind us of Donald Trump...what no reference to your Ferrari in your last post?

Bruce, there's really so much that you are completely unaware of, really.

Guess which person was trying to encourage the developers to use her husband's construction company on the Post Office project?

Guess where some person's campaign money came from? I'll give you a hint, it's related to construction companies, sometimes, particularly in places like New York City.

Or, what about the money to provide speeches and consulting services to special interest groups that the person admits to professionally "represent" and that also endorse the person?

But hey, our state senator Leland Yee got busted and admitted to racketeering and selling rocket launchers. Our fire chief got indicted for major credit card fraud. And, on the national level, it looks like we'll be choosing between hubris-laden trust fund kid Donald Trump vs. under FBI investigation liars B-illary Clinton.

With 20-30% voter turn-out typically, we vote in all sorts of frauds...and the voters barely notice between American Idol, Soccer Practices, and People Magazine.


I'll agree with you on the last paragraph-- the "Proposition" process is completely broken and gets us into much more trouble than it is worth--Tos vs CHSRA hearing goes on today, to cancel issuance of Prop 1 A bonds, as we merrily blog on other issues. How many millions (billions) are going to be lost without a bit of track set, or worse, an abandoned boondoggle project, as those frightening images from Fresno suggest.

But you are way off the mark, in my mind, to criticize the current mayor, on this issue. Who is minding the farm? She is. Good for her, and good for us. It sure doesn't sound like 'special interest' to me, unless the special interest is the People of Burlingame. This can be a great project, or a disaster project, with many variants in-between. Personally, I'd look at all three wings (minus the sorting room to the south) of the USPO building, rather than two, and build a really magnificent structure above. That structure needs to be the gem and center of attention. It can be multi-storied, and spectacular, but instead, the plans thus far, both from Grosvenor and Wang-Lu have largely disregarded the two wings, that are surely seen as a burden, around which to plan. IN this latest case, what little remains of the USPO is completely overshadowed by a very hulky structure, above.. How sad.

We, the people (through our local government), have the power to steer this as we feel fit. I shutter to think that a less strident council might be intrigued with the thought of a Cheesecake Factory plopped right in the middle of that property, with 5 stories all around and lollypop trees in planters as "landscaping". As Mayor Keighran clearly stated, that is NOT Burlingame. Somebody has to say it, and I'm glad she had the guts to.

Cathy Baylock

And nobody, and I mean NOBODY knows what is going on this town than Jennifer Pfaff. End of discussion "BarelyNoticed Voter".

In the room

Jennifer, for sure, I appreciate the long term charm of historic preservation. And, the city council absolutely should challenge developers and get lots of feedback from residents.

But, unfortunately politicians in our area go unchallenged for years and it emboldens them to act in a manner which is contrary to the public interest. And, beyond the more obvious examples that we can all read in the newspapers, there are a lot of shenanigans that have happened and have even happened in front of me and other writers on this string that blatantly broke ethical and legal boundaries. So, I'm not sure if I blame ignorance or hubris more, but folks no one here is omniscient nor omnipresent. And, it's our duty to call out our politicians less they grow into the Kings and Queens which my ancestors personally stood up to alongside George Washington.

Bruce Dickinson

Hey listen little fella, the Jerkstore called.....and guess what? They're running out of YOU!

I must laugh, yes chuckle at those who think the Great Dickinson knows nothing about Burlingame, when two of the "Great Dames" of this fine town just resoundingly re-affirmed everything I said. Talk about a baker's dozen eggs on the face, if ya know what I mean.

Then again, my people know a lot of people and those people live, work, breathe, eat, and poop in Burlingame, just like yours truly.

Come to this site with real knowledge and facts, then we'll start paying attention, because ironically, we are "barely noticing " anything insightful or credible spewing from such trolls. I swear it sounds like some posters on this site don't even live in Burlingame, or are just living in a very different version of reality.

Anyway, back to business. There is a replete record of Keighran fighting for many, many things and not only that, but leading the charge and those who vote all know this and have re-affirmed her platform many times through the voting process. If her husband's construction company can build a great project, wouldn't you want that person to actually build it (whose wife will have a large say in the quality of the project at the expense of some profit)...or would you want the Wang Construction Company to build it, with intent of extracting every dollar? Seriously, do I even have to ask these incredibly dumb questions?

The Common Sense Store called....and guess what?... they don't need you!

primary resource insight

Fake "Bruce",

I love it! You ARE a classic Californian. Laws and ethics don't matter one bit to you...and nor do they to the voters. Leland Yee got over 200,000 votes even after getting indicted and withdrawing from the race.

Birds of a feather, Fake "Bruce"...keep on admiring yourself via your incessant references to your Ferraris...and I'll keep delivering primary resource insight.


Oh I love that imperial Keighrean quote "that is not Burlingame"
Go ride around town AK. Your "Burlingame" has changed dramatically. Charming house upon house torn down for the monsters. All while you sat on the planning commission and council.

Bruce Dickinson

Guys, c'mon, let's be honest with ourselves. Yes, people will have bigger houses and better cars than you (and in some rare cases, even me), but here's a lesson that will get you farther in life: Envy, of all the sins, is the easily the worst. This is because you can't have any fun with it at all and it wastes time and causes anger...it's a total net loss! Don't spend energy envying others, it won't be productive at all.

Just another word of wisdom, from your neighborhood philosopher, Bruce Dickinson!

Peter Garrison

Good one on envy! True!
Augustine called envy "a strange sad anger."


Listen, Bruce, I often agree with you, but in this case I think you have jumped to conclusions and sounded the cowbell way too soon.

First, I attended the meeting regarding the PO and while I agree that our council should expect nothing but the best for Burlingame, it does't have to come with an accusatory tone.

The Mayor lead the discussion and set the tone for further discussion. Unfortunately, she and by default, the rest of the council began discussing architectural design. That discussion was premature as the premise of the study session was really to decide whether to trade public land for the public good as it related to this development. IMHO, the city manager and the city atty should have interrupted the Mayor and her colleagues reminding them that the discussion be focused on the land swap, not on the design of the project. Arguably, one might say that you can't have one discussion without the other, but I would disagree.

Moreover, Samiselfie, I think is trying to say first, that diplomacy can go along way in these debates and that our little burb is changing at a rapid pace and that the council is seemingly talking out of two sides of their mouths.

For example, they are concerned with the possibility of losing the charm of Burlingame—"This is not Burlingame," said the Mayor, yet there are literally dozens and dozens of homes being demolished to build McMansions without barely a peep from any of our leaders.

Doesn't have to do with jealousy, just the reality that what was one of the many charms of Burlingame...it's eclectic housing stock is rapidly disappearing.

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