For 51 years, The Shops at Tanforan have lived in San Bruno, about 10 miles south of the San Francisco city limits. Now, the mall is getting razed, and the 44-acre site is being redeveloped into housing and a new biotech campus.

News broke over the past Summer that the San Bruno City Council had finally approved the Reimagining the Tanforan Land Use Fact Sheet. The plan aimed to turn the Shops at Tanforan into about 1,000 housing units, a biotech campus, transit-oriented commercial developments, and an innovation hub, among other things. The transit focus is built into the location itself, which is set up right next to the San Bruno BART station, giving tenants easy access to downtown San Francisco and downtown Oakland.


The latest update comes from a developer in Los Angeles who’s now purchased the land to convert to a campus of offices for biotech firms. The real estate bid reached nearly $330 million in total, Mercury News reports. That total came from three separate major transactions.

Alexandria Real Estate put down $95.2 million for a group of parcels where the main retail and restaurant section of the Shops at Tanforan have stood for years. The site of the JCPenney store at 1122 El Camino Real sold for $105.25 million. The location of the Sears anchor store, 1178 El Camino Real, sold for $128 million.

Since the transformation is still in its planning stages, right now the future of the site is just a vision. What Alexandria does know is that it aims to make gigantic modern offices and a research complex. Those would be rented out to companies focusing on technology, biotech, life sciences, and other advanced studies.

Alexandria has sunk its teeth into other Bay Area real estate, too. The company says it hopes to ultimately create several sites to fulfill its mission of a mega campus.

The mall is a historic site, sitting over what was once a Japanese internment camp during World War II. After that, it became an airfield and racetrack where Seabiscuit was stabled. San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa told ABC 7 News the new property owners must recognize that history.

Photo by Lili Popper on Unsplash