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


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Jeffrey Tong
Jeffrey Tong
8 years ago

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!

Jeffrey Tong
Jeffrey Tong
8 years ago

(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!

Jeffrey Tong
Jeffrey Tong
8 years ago
Reply to  Editor

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!

Megan Lee
Megan Lee
8 years ago

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.


[…] at the Westborough Shopping Center has displaced some of our communities favorite ‘go to’ stores and, well, the natives are […]