Affordable housing complex approved for site in Belmont

19-room motel from 1952 would be replaced by six-story, 152-unit housing complex

ROEM's Robert Emami with 800-803 Belmont Avenue (Facebook, ROEM)
ROEM's Robert Emami with 800-803 Belmont Avenue (Facebook, ROEM)

A Bay Area developer is moving ahead with plans to replace a Mid-Century Modern motel in Belmont with a 125-unit affordable housing complex.

ROEM Development, based in Santa Clara, has won approval to build the six-story apartment building at 800-803 Belmont Ave., SFYimby reported. The 19-room Bel-Mateo Motel, built in 1952, would be demolished.

The 230,000-square-foot development would include 125 affordable housing units on 1.5 acres, including a three-floor underground parking garage for 152 vehicles.

Construction is expected to take 23 months from groundbreaking to completion. A launch date hasn’t been set.

The classically inspired building, designed by Torrance-based Withee Malcolm Architects, would feature a stone veneer base with arched windows and doors, topped by several stories sheathed in stucco, with a Mediterranean tile roof.

The terraced beige-and-white-colored complex, approved by the Belmont City Council, would include bay windows flanked by green shutters, or fronted by small faux balconies.

“The building embodies a classical organization along its street fronts, with a defined base, mid, and upper section,” according to the project plan. “This organization brings cohesiveness throughout the design, despite the change in elevation and shifts in building mass.”

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Amenities will include a fitness center, club room, computer/homework room, children’s play structure and a 6,500-square-foot outdoor recreation space.

The apartments will include 52 one-bedroom, 40 two-bedroom and 33 three-bedroom units.

Thirty-six units will be for extremely low-income households, of which 19 will be supportive housing for formerly homeless veterans, according to SFYimby. The remaining 89 units will be for low-income households earning between 50 percent and 80 percent of the median income for San Mateo County.

Residents will be just five minutes away from the Belmont Caltrain Station and adjacent grocery store with the SamTrans bus. The train station’s parking lot also hosts the Belmont Farmers’ Market each Sunday.

The project would require demolishing the Bel-Mateo Motel. The motel, opened by Paul and Eva Venturelli in 1952, was reviewed as a possible historic resource for its Mid-century Modern design and neon sign.

On a hill behind the motel is Van’s, a century-old Italian restaurant and onetime Prohibition speakeasy that closed in May 2020. Built as a teahouse in 1915 for the Japanese Exhibition at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, it was hauled by barge down to the Peninsula and rebuilt, with a sign linked to the Bel-Mateo Motel.

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