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Community Center Update - October 2017

Post Date:10/15/2017

Dear Millbrae Residents,

It’s been more than a year now since the Millbrae Community Center was destroyed by a fire, and while the site of the former building is now empty, there has been a great amount of work and progress towards rebuilding the facility.

In July, the Millbrae City Council approved a more than $6 million settlement with its insurance providers to pay for the replacement of the Community Center in “as-was” condition. Through the settlement, the City will receive $6.2 million. Payment amounts include $5,123,000 to replace the building, $778,000 to ensure the new building meets current building and safety codes, and $292,000 to demolish the destroyed structure down to the concrete foundations and slab.

Group 4 Architecture held its second public workshop last month and continues to gather input and ideas from the community to build a future state-of-the-art Community Center. At the recent workshop, based on the feedback the team got from the community and the site research it conducted, Group 4 presented three concepts for the future community center to better understand what themes local residents liked and disliked. Three concepts were presented: Gateway Park Pavilions, Park As Community Center Porch, and Buildings In The Park. Most of the people who attended the open house and workshop liked the Park As Community Center Porch concept that fully integrates Central Park and outdoor activity areas into the future Center.

To date, more than 800 members of our community have given their ideas either in person or through the online surveys. For those who couldn’t make the second workshop, you can still see the three concepts and provide you feedback by visiting This is a second survey that is more focused on the site options and program options discussed at the open house and workshop. We want to encourage everyone to participate in the second survey as the new Community Center is starting to take shape.

The public workshops that have been held so far have been very successful, but the work is not done. Group 4 will be hosting its third and final workshop on Tuesday, October 24. The open house, starting at 4 p.m., will be held in the Civic Center Plaza (450 Poplar Ave.) in front of the library. The workshop will begin at 7 p.m. in the Chetcuti Community Room.

These public workshops and the second online survey are very important in ensuring that the future  Community Center meets the needs of Millbrae and its residents. This process is not easy, nor quick, but it is essential. In November, following three rounds of public input, Group 4 will combine everyone’s ideas and desires, and present the City Council with a cohesive Community Center Master Plan. Although not everything everyone wants will be in the final plan, they will be innovative in creating a space everyone will enjoy for decades to come.

We fully expected the temporary Community Center to be up and open by now, but we ran into a few roadblocks. In February, the City Council approved the use of $1 million from additional insurance coverage designed to pay for ongoing costs to purchase modular buildings to serve as our interim Community Center - this is funding from a difference insurance account than described above. The temporary center will be located in the parking lot behind City Hall.

This site is centrally located, but it needs new electrical service and utility connections. While the modular buildings, which will act as the temporary Community Center, is being fabricated, engineers from the City are completing the necessary site upgrades. Work on the site is expected to be completed, and the facility open, by the end of November.

The City of Millbrae owes a special thank you to San Mateo County. Since the fire, there has been an outpouring of support from nearby communities and the County. Earlier this year, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors awarded a $250,000 Measure K grant to Millbrae. This money will help pay for the temporary Community Center, and its residual proceeds will go towards building and maintaining the new permanent facility.

This past year has been trying for us all. In spite of the setbacks, much progress has been made:  Central Park has been cleaned and opened to the public; the burned-out Community Center was demolished and the site was cleaned; Group 4 Architecture is well underway in developing a master plan and cost analysis; and the City has accepted a $6.2 million insurance settlement. Once the master plan and cost analysis are presented we will be seeking additional community input on funding the new center.  

We want to thank you for your patience and participation throughout this entire process. We are working toward a new state-of-the-art Community Center that will be sustainable and appreciated for decades to come.


Mayor Reuben Holober and Vice Mayor Gina Papan

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