July 2, 2022

SAN BRUNO — A real estate shopping spree that topped $300 million has enabled a big developer to buy all of a high-profile Peninsula retail center and transform the mall into a mega campus for biotech and tech firms.

The Shops at Tanforan mall in San Bruno is headed for a vast reconstruction and replacement now that development titan Alexandria Real Estate has bought the final piece of the puzzle that it requires to own all the land needed for the ambitious project.

Alexandria Real Estate paid $95.2 million for the main retail and restaurant portion of The Shops at Tanforan, consisting of several parcels, documents filed on Feb. 9 with the San Mateo County Recorder’s Office show.

Pasadena-based Alexandria wound up paying a total of just under $328.5 million for the shopping center, a review by this news organization of documents filed with county officials and federal regulators shows.

The mall was purchased through three major transactions, according to public records:

— $105.25 million for the site of the JCPenney anchor store at 1122 El Camino Real in September 2021.

— $128 million for the purchase of the Sears anchor store building at 1178 El Camino Real in November 2021.

— 95.2 million to buy the main mall section at 1150 El Camino Real this week.

Alexandria aims to transform the San Bruno mall into a “mega campus” through a future development effort, according to an annual report filed on Jan. 31 covering the company’s 2021 fiscal year.

The Shops at Tanforan would be converted into a huge new modern office and research complex whose tenants would be tech companies, life sciences companies, and other advanced technology firms.

The shopping center site is also next to the San Bruno BART station. That means the property benefits from rapid transit links to both downtown San Francisco and downtown Oakland, as well as other parts of the East Bay and South Bay, along with future BART connections to downtown San Jose.