Westborough Shopping Center

Westborough Shopping Center

By Kamala Silva Wolfe

Peninsula Progress June 13-20, 2012

There is a lot of buzz about the construction happening up at the Westborough Square Shopping Center and rightly so. South San Francisco’s shopping centers all have seen better days and they are looking very worn and tired, including the Westborough Shopping Center which is one of our ‘newer’ ones in our city.

The shopping center was originally built in 1969 after three years of construction, and required 75 feet of back fill to level this hillside area. Once completed it allowed 92,250 square feet of new shopping and eating experience on approximately nine previously untouched acres and served the area well during its prime.  The past decade or so has seen this area become more depressed, dilapidated, and pest infested although many favorite businesses remained and loyal customers lament their closing.

Through a good part of the shopping center’s history, memories were made at the Straw Hat Pizza, especially when Luigi was the manager.  It was the place to go after the local ball games, a great place to hang out on Friday nights, and a favorite family destination, as was Swenson’s Ice Cream Parlor. Both places offered many South San Franscian’s their first job experience, pay check and that feeling of youthful independence. Denny’s was another local favorite, the place to go after a night out since it was opened 24 hours a day and friends could always count on meeting up with others, no matter the time.  The original Mel’s Deli and Neal’s Pub were also high on the list of Westborough’s happening center and in time became affectionately known as the Deli and the Pub after ownership changes took place.  Before Pet Club, Safeway was a convenient grocery store and many of the long time shop owners are already missed; Messina Shoe Repair and Mona’s Hair Salon among them.

Many express a sense of sadness seeing the demolition of an area so many grew up with yet there is an excitement to see what is on the drawing board for the next generation to enjoy.  The current project is slated to open by the autumn of 2013 and it appears the only two businesses to remain in the square would be Walgreens and Bank of the West.  The Westborough Pet Hospital has shared the desire to continue doing business in South City which is good news for the pet lovers who depend on Dr. Grewal’s and his staff.  The Deli is also rumored to share the desire to return to the city that has many a happy customer waiting to see the final outcome.

What’s on the drawing board?

The project is set for two phases with the first phase to complete within seven months from the initial demolition of the southernmost buildings, Denny’s, The Pub and the old Wachovia Bank (World Savings and Loans).  The entrance on Westborough Blvd. will be situated 120 feet further up the street which will really help the traffic exiting highway 280 that merges onto this already busy thoroughfare.  This south side of the center will be lined with new buildings that will house the new Walgreens and Bank of the West along with other storefronts.


The second phase includes actually moving Walgreens (which is proposed to be open 24 hours a day) and the Bank into their new respective homes to allow the demolition of the rest of the square.  The Gellert entrance will also be moved to be in line with the stop light currently at the McDonald’s driveway.  Again, this should help the traffic flow in this area dramatically.

The new center will grow by approximately 2,500 feet with single story shops that top at a 30 foot height and will be adorned with two Iconic towers 50’ tall at prominent corners.  Some residents from the City Lights complex were concerned about the new development restricting views yet city plans show the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was adhered to in the initial stages of planning. CEQA findings state it will not block views of Sign Hill, San Bruno Mountain or East Bay Hills from a public view.

All new building will be designed to meet Leed Silver Standards and will include water efficient landscaping, water use reduction, materials reuse, recycled content, construction waste management, optimization of energy performance, and innovation of design.  Also proposed is the use of low VOC (volatile organic compounds) finishes in the building construction.  Parking will also increase from city’s required 387 spaces to the planned 394 parking spaces. Currently we do not know which new businesses will be calling the renovated Westborough Shopping Center home yet the illustrations are inviting.

More information on this project can be viewed at the Planning Department at 315 Maple Ave.

South San Francisco, CA 94080, (650) 877-8535  or online  at Planning Department under Westborough Renovations http://www.ssf.net/media/viewSearchResults.aspx?view_id=4&keywords=westborough

Thanks to Brian L for sharing this link:



To view the online conversation please visit Everything South City Facebook Page under Notes Westborough Shopping Center Renovation

Article reprinted from Peninsula Progress June 13-20, 2012 edition


For a hard copy contact Publisher Victoria Monroe at Victoria@PeninsulaProgress.com or call/text 650-219-4313


Demo as of May 2012

Westborough during demo May 2012

Conceptual Drawing
Photo: City of South San Francisco

Dr. Grewal and staff hope to keep Westborough Pet Hospital local

Dr. Grewal and staff hope to keep Westborough Pet Hospital local

Westborough neighborhood before the developments circa 1960
Photo: SSF Library


9 comments for “Westborough Shopping Center

  1. Megan Lee
    November 23, 2013 at 1:57 am

    Hi, My name is Megan and i was wondering if there is a “space for lease” available in your mall? I’m not sure if i’m contacting the right people because i can’t find an email address or website. Please let me know and get back to me asap. Thank you.

    • Editor
      November 23, 2013 at 3:31 am

      Hi Megan,
      The best place to check would be with those working on the project http://www.colliersparrish.com
      Hope that helps.

  2. Jeffrey Tong
    November 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    (1) Does anyone know what direction the circa 1960 photo is facing? I’m trying to see what original landscape looked like. I am digging up invasive foreign plants (like English ivy and Pampas grass) in my yard, and replacing them with native CA plants to restore native plant community. Only thing I have to go on is http://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/communities/coastal-sage-scrub

    (2) Does anyone know who property management company is? They need to install bike racks for local Westborough residents so they aren’t totally dependent upon cars. Best time to think about these things is NOW! SSF has a bike & pedestrian committee, but city only puts bike racks on city property.

    Thank you!

    • Editor
      November 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm


      It is really tough to identify which direction that photo was facing. However, one of our best local groups to help identify native landscaping would be the San Bruno Mountain Watch Conservatory. You can find good information from their resources by going to their website, In addition they have a nursery where they propagate local plants and use them to help bring native species back to our mountains. The Mission Blue Nursery is located in Brisbane, and is not open to the public except for during their sales (last one was Nov 16th, just missed it) But do contact them, they are knowledgeable and will be able to help you.
      Two of our South City residents, Loretta and Chuck, do a lot of work with them and are well versed as in native local plants. They are the captains of South City’s Weed Warrior Program that work on Sign Hill and SBM. You can contact them by email at lorrettaandchuck@sbcglobal.net You can also see the a variety of native plants they have identified on Sign Hill by going to Friends Of Sign Hill on Facebook.
      San Bruno Mountain Watch http://www.mountainwatch.org sanbruno@mountainwatch.org
      33 Visitacion Ave #206 Brisbane, CA 415-467-6631


      That is a great idea regarding the bike racks. You may try calling our own Planning Dept 877-8535 to give your input and to contact the property management group Collier Parish http://www.colliersparrish.com

      Thank you for your valuable input, it is appreciated.


      • Jeffrey Tong
        November 24, 2013 at 12:41 am

        Thanks Ed

        I’m guessing the 1960 photo is looking westward up towards what is now Skyline Blvd. Looks like plant community is chaparral, with a little erosion at trough of windy hills. Grove of trees look planted, but foreground looks like a native scrub oak community.

        Yes, I was able to attend Mission Blue Nursery’s sale last weekend. I purchased what I believe is the mainstay of a CA coastal sage scrub plant ommunity: Baccarus pilularis (coyote brush) – a great hill stabilizer, Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (CA lilacs), Erigonium latifolum (CA buckwheats), and my favorite shrub/tree… Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (a ground hugging Manzanita with beautiful little bell-shaped flowers). 🙂

        Btw, planning staff engineer to SSF’s BPAC just quit. Staff engineer to San Bruno’s BPAC did same. I suppose Collier Parish is Westborough Square’s construction project manager as well as property manager? Thanks!

        • Editor
          November 24, 2013 at 2:29 am

          Aha! You have more knowledge than most everyone on the native plants and glad you have already connected with SBMW. The Westborough area may have been grazed upon since it was part of Rancho Buri Buri so perhaps the native plants aren’t all that native. Local lore has been the only un-grazed area is SBM and Sign Hill, yet the good folks at SBMW are the local experts.

          Regarding Westborough you may find more info by contacting Colliers folks per the info on this link;
          Anna Winters
          925 279 4624

          Jim McMasters
          925 279 5567

          Or contacting city planning dept at 877-8535. We certainly have had what seems like a mass exodus from our city ranks of late. Your idea/ concern of bike racks is an important part of this building discussion. Thank you.

  3. Jeffrey Tong
    November 24, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Thank you very much for the commercial real estate contacts. Westborough / Monte Verde subdivisions are composed of Philippinos, Chinese, Indians, Tongans, and a host of other nationalities, many of whom consider bicycling as normal transportation in their home countries. The LEAST we can do for these residents is to offer bicyclists a place to park their bikes at Westborough Square Shopping Center.

    In my humble opinion, SamTrans and BART are very poorly managed, and should there be a strike or shutdown with either BART or SamTrans, God help the residents of Westborough/Monte Verde who do not have access to a car – they’re trapped! Unfortunately, Caltrans is very averse to building ANY pedestrian access through I-280 (a virtual Berlin Wall) for Westborough/Monte Verde residents to reach SSF BART, shopping, or anything east of I-280.

    Westborough Blvd evidences very poor community planning and coordination on the part of local/county/State gov’t agencies. There is no bike or pedestrian access through I-280 @ Westborough, and every government body is fearful of lawsuits. If there is a complaint, each gov’t level points their finger at another another until finger comes full circle. Are there residents who agree? If residents do not unite with one voice, there will be no changes!

    • Editor
      November 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      We have put your question out to our facebook audience and it created a lively discussion which we will share in another article today. Thank you for bringing this subject up and giving a voice to this discussion.

      On the other subject of native flora in Westborough, another resource maybe the SSF Museum on Chestnut Avenue. They have loads of photos and other information that may shed more light on your initial query. Here is info from the city website.

      Thanks again,

      The Historical Society Museum, located at 80 Chestnut Avenue, is housed in the former offices of the California Water Service Company. For 20 years, the museum was located at the Magnolia Senior Center, 601 Grand Avenue, but it outgrew that location with its growing collection of artifacts and memorabilia. The Society opened its doors at 80 Chestnut Avenue on November 6, 2008.

      The Museum collection includes:

      Vintage wedding gowns and other vintage clothing that belonged to early families
      A beautiful tea cup collection donated by local residents
      Photos and artifacts dating from the 1850’s to the present, tracing the history of the “Industrial City”
      Oral history tapes
      Audio/Visual Room with historic school yearbooks, relevant newspaper articles, maps, Bay Area historical reference materials and paintings from local artists
      Rotating Special Exhibit Room
      Public database for researching historical photographs

      Knowledgeable docents are available to answer questions and guide visitors.

      The museum store includes the video/DVDs “Sign of the Times” (1987), a document of the history of Sign Hill; “Baden to Biotech” (2008), a documentary of the history of South San Francisco; and “The 2008 Centennial Celebration” (2009), a short video hightlighting the festivities that occured during the centennial year. Numerous books on the history of South San Francisco are available, including souvenir pins, coffee mugs, t-shirts, postcards, and the 2008 Centennial postage stamp.

      Museum Hours:

      Admissiom: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2pm – 4 pm
      Every Second & Fourth Saturday, 1pm – 3 pm

      Tours are available by appointment
      (650) 829-3825

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