Can South Laurel Become “SOLA”?

bobbredel Featured , San Carlos Community Issues Leave a Comment


A few around San Carlos are looking down at their chips and about to go all in for the south end of Laurel.  South Laurel, now named “SOLA” by San Carlos developer, Bob Stafford, is about to get its chance to shine.

North & South

Anchored by heavy hitters such as Town, Piacere, Spasso, Cask and a host of others, the north end of Laurel has become not only a favorite among San Carlans, but a destination for those who do not live in San Carlos. The south end of Laurel, or Laurel south of Brittan Avenue, has a noticeably different feel. Restaurants are far and few between.  The nightlife is almost non-existent. Professional offices, older buildings and vacant lots occupy much of south Laurel.  For years, bringing the south end of Laurel to life has been a focus of the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the Planning Commission. It appears that the right spots have finally opened up and there is a movement to transform south Laurel to SOLA.

Key Locations Are Now Under Contract

The vacant lot at 1580 Laurel Street is about to see life. Owned by a family from Atherton, the architectural designs have been undertaken by a high-end, very well respected firm in Burlingame, according to Stafford.  The plans will call for ground floor retail and residential units above. 1580 Laurel Street is currently the largest plot of vacant land on south Laurel. Establishing a new, vibrant building to fill the void can only help blend the overall feel of south Laurel.

Perhaps the most important location on south Laurel is the old White Oaks Hardware building.  I am happy to report this building has been sold and from what I have been told, the new owners have plans to establish some type of eatery. Situated at a busy four-way stop at Laurel and St. Francis, it’s the one intersection on south Laurel that receives a decent amount of traffic.  I would argue that this is the one location that cannot misfire if south Laurel is to move toward SOLA.

Success has been found by some on south Laurel.

Mack’s BBQ has been incredibly successful on the south end of Laurel. Others have found south San Carlos to be profitable as well.  While it is a block in front of Laurel on El Camino, The Office Bar and Grill has been wildly successful and is extremely popular with San Carlos residents. The success of both of these establishments seems to indicate that there is room for more in SOLA.

North Laurel started in a similar fashion

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when you could walk down the north end of Laurel at 7:00 pm on a Friday or Saturday night and feel as though you were one of about 6 people downtown.  However, eventually, someone took a chance.  A Tavola set up shop in the old Tivoli Building and became successful. The transformation kicked into overdrive when A Tavola became Town and the other like-minded entrepreneurs could not set up shop on north Laurel fast enough.

SOLA will never be north Laurel

I don’t think anyone is under the impression that SOLA will one day be north Laurel.  For one, the vast majority of north Laurel is zoned for commercial/retail.  South Laurel has apartments, retail and professional office space.  Even with these differences, there seems to be a strong consensus that it is under performing. The right players and locations seem to finally be in place.  The movement has the backing of the council, the chamber and all commissions. The chips are nearing the center of the table for SOLA.


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