Century Plaza Demolished Making Way for 338 Housing Units

South San Francisco, Ca  October 21, 2021


Many South San Francisco locals have memories of the Century Plaza and Theater on Noor Avenue off of El Camino Real, from first jobs to first dates, to enjoying time with family and friends. To see this ‘landmark’ being torn down brings mixed feelings, many knowing the crowning days of this establishment have been gone long age. Yet shared memories is part of what keeps that ole small town charm remaining in South City, even in the midst of major changes, and with so many cranes in the air, competing with neighboring San Francisco. It can be unnerving and the past does offer some solace.



The Noor Avenue area is being demolished to make way for, what had been billed as a development, with 388 housing units approved by the South San Francisco Planning Commission last year. This 5-acre site will include three buildings ranging from 3-stories to 5-stories and offer studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments along with underground 466 parking spots. Ten percent of these units are set to be affordable housing. Because this development falls beneath the SFO corridor, there has been additional challenges to move this forward. {read more CLICK HERE}



As the City of South San Francisco continues to be the premier place of employment, regional bodies mandate housing also be included to house those who work here. With limited space, and even more limited infrastructure, many long time locals ask how this is sustainable – from their dark homes as PGE outages once again hit neighborhoods for extended times this past week. The drought, which also limits existing resident’s usage, cause many to ask – is there an end to this continued building which does not appear sustainable, while also acknowledging the need for housing.


It is a tough balance, which has yet to be addressed by the City of South San Francisco, as we have witnessed the incredible growth of our City in the past six years or so. Many of these projects had been on the drawing board prior to the State’s dissolution of the redevelopment agencies in 2012, which was followed by the Successor Agency, to sell and redirect monies to other agencies, including our public schools, and City services.



Shortly after, with the retirement of then City Manager, and South City resident Barry Nagel, the City Council hired a new manager, Mr Futrell, who comes from Louisiana, with a different mindset and vigor, to accomplish said developments, and more.While many locals lament the continued growth noting the degrading changes in ‘quality of life’, others recognize the need for more housing, and affordable housing especially. It has been disappointing that many new ‘housing units’ remain empty due to the high prices, leaving locals once again priced out of the market in the town they helped create and call home.This is an experience that falls far beyond our City limits, the out pricing of the working middle class.


Twenty six acres, adjacent to this Noor Avenue property, have been bought by developers who are working with the City to create a business park, while residents finally hear they just might get the long sought grocery store, Safeway at Spruce and ECR {more here}.


Behind the scenes, developers have acquired 26-acres with the address stated as 30 Tanforan Avenue (at S Maple Ave), and proposals call for six office / R&D buildings ranging in heights up to seven stories and totaling approximately 2.7M square feet, development of a parking garage, below-grade parking, site amenities, open space and landscaping. This will be huge.


This writer does not have the answers, yet can only share the concerns and information, from one local neighbor to another, as is our ‘mission statement’. There was a time when South City neighbor, Wayne Despues, a SSFHS Grad of 1978, had big plans for this Noor Avenue site, along with Millard Tong, the then owner of Brentwood Bowl. But life happened, or didn’t, as Wayne Despues suddenly passed on, and other investment issues took the attention of Tong. CLICK HERE of more info.


South City native, Wayne Despues, along with the former owner of Brentwood Bowl, Millard Tong, had plans to move the Bowl to the Century Plaza along with a major entertainment venue created by Despues. Sadly, Despues plans dies with him.


It has been interesting to note, since the pandemic shutdown, more and more folks are seeking comfort from online sites that relish the ‘old days’, a sense of security which we really no longer have, as we more forward in a world that has a mutated virus wrecking havoc in everyone’s life.


As we see the end of yet another era, we ask – what are your memories of this area?


And what are your thoughts of this new development?


And how do you view our South City, overall?


What do we have – what are we missing?







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Bob Wang
Bob Wang
2 years ago

This Theatre has been empty for 15 years, it’s overdue to be demolished and replaced with something that benefits the community. With housing in short short supply and the ease of access to BART, apartments make complete sense on this site. For anyone who has spent time at the Theatre, it certainly holds fond memories but I had to laugh at the reference to “Landmark”, that’s a big stretch of the imagination 🙂

2 years ago

There is just a mindless expanse of rampant building in South San Francisco. I was told by the City Manager in 2018 when he was garnering support for the PUC site development that he was implementing the 2010 General Plan where developments were approved.

But, it has to be said blatantly that in the 2010 General Plan, all this development and multiple story buildings were not approved.

Enough is enough…South San Francisco, by inviting more and more businesses to our city (i.e. When Councilman Addiego and another attended a convention and had our city pay for an informational table so more and more businesses were enticed to move here), the influx of more workers means more housing.

Look at sensible San Bruno — their only major business is YouTube, and they’re preserving their quality of life for their residents.

Too bad I couldn’t say the same about South City.

Renee Aubuchon
Renee Aubuchon
2 years ago

I remember going to the Century Plaza many times with my family. I can see the lobby as I write this. When there wasn’t parking in the front, there was still a chance there would be parking around back. I was sorry to see it looking forlorn and vacant for so long, and sorry that it is now gone. Only mandating 10% for affordable housing for the new project doesn’t seem to be enough.

mel perry
mel perry
2 years ago

more R&D,and office buildings, just what SSF needed?, what about studios
and 1BR’s?, where are the workers going to live?, city hall needs to stop
sitting on its brains, and do some
reality plannig, before.they screw up
the rest of the ECR corridror

Cory Alan David
Cory Alan David
2 years ago

How is it that South City became a “premier place of employment?” Could it be that a city government composed of irresponsible individuals invited an impossible to house workforce to our city without consideration of the impact on existing residents? Now I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t invite them but I do recall a dearly departed election official boasting of an invitation to eleven thousand additional Genentech employees. What to do? In addition to bulldozing every unused existing parcel and saturating it with housing, how about encouraging high density housing in our single family neighborhoods? Problem solved and a “single finger salute” to existing residents. As a long time resident of this city, I can say the magnitude of development is unprecedented. As this appears to occur in spite of opposition of a majority of existing homeowners, one can only be curious about the motivation of the parties involved. Even though it is obvious that every project approved is money in someone’s pocket, I am confident that those pockets don’t belong to our city officials. Well, actually I’m no authority but who would know? The FBI? The State Attorney General? The Grand Jury? Beyond my pay grade but I’d love to know.