Senior housing proposed at site of John Bentley's restaurant


Sunrise Senior Living Corp. has proposed to build a 90-unit residential care facility at 2915 El Camino Real, where the John Bentley's restaurant is located. Mr. Bentley said he plans to close the restaurant in the spring.

The 120,000-square-foot development would reach 44 feet at its highest point facing El Camino. (The height would drop to 32 feet in the back, according to San Mateo County Planner Carmelisa Morales.)

The development would occupy about 1.4 acres and have an underground garage. Of the 90 units, 53 would be single-occupancy, 19 would be double-occupancy, and 18 would be semi-private, Ms. Morales said.

The project complies with new zoning approved for that stretch of El Camino Real and relies on an environmental analyses conducted when the overall plan for development in North Fair Oaks was approved in 2011.

Sunrise Senior Living, based in McLean, Virginia, has 19 Bay Area locations, including in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and San Mateo.

The project is being reviewed by county staff and would need to be approved by the San Mateo County Planning Commission.

According to Ms. Morales, one of the big points of contention with the proposed development is whether the alley that runs behind the John Bentley building should be acquired by the senior housing developer and "vacated" by the county.

Kent Manske, a North Fair Oaks resident who was on the work group for the recent El Camino Real rezoning, said that the alley that runs behind the El Camino Real-facing buildings from Berkshire Avenue to 5th Avenue has long been a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly route. He says the alley is county land that belongs to the public.

"If you're going to give away county land, tell us what the public good is," he said.

A meeting was held to get public comment on the development. Aside from the alley problem, "it seemed like the public was in support of the project," Ms. Morales said.

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