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San Mateo County officials give update on new $155M mental health facility

The County is constructing a new 121-bed mental health facility, which is expected to open in 2024.
Cordilleras Mental Health Center2
Work is underway to build a new mental health treatment center. Scott Gurley, the project manager, describes what the new center will look like based off of renderings in his hand. / Supplied photo.

The site of a $155 million project centered around treating mental health in the county has begun to take shape, San Mateo County officials said in a press last week. 

Construction on the 121-bed Cordilleras Mental Health Center, which is expected to open in 2024, began in 2021. 

“You can measure the compassion of a community by how it treats its most vulnerable,” said Don Horsley, president of the San Mateo County board of supervisors. “We made a decision that we, as a community, are going to provide the best setting possible to help those suffering from a severe mental illness, and do so close to home so that loved ones can stay connected."

The new center comprises a cluster of small residential buildings with shared community spaces, according to the press release. The design reflects a new approach to treating mental illness: a home-like setting with windows and doors opening to nature.

The project consists of:

  • Four single-story mental health recovery centers, each accommodating 16 individuals
  • A separate housing unit for 57 individuals with a lengthy history of mental illness
  • A campus core with a multi-purpose room, arts and crafts center, chapel, conference rooms and other support spaces
  • A variety of outdoor areas, including secure courtyards, for communal gathering, sheltered seating, gardens, sports courts and more
  • Tearing down the existing facility, a step that will improve views from the new center
Cordilleras Mental Health Center

A rendering of the new mental health facility, showing residential clusters (background) and a main building (foreground).
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The site is off Edgewood Road between Redwood City and San Carlos, about a half mile east of Interstate 280, next to the Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve. (Link to a map of the location.)

The site originally offered an out-of-the-way place for the tuberculosis hospital, which transitioned into a mental health facility in 1978. 

Once the new center opens, the old building -- deemed out-of-date and expensive to operate -- will be demolished. The cost of the new building is being paid primarily through the sale of bonds.

The design of the new buildings will result in the project achieving what's known as zero net energy: the total amount of energy used by the buildings on an annual basis will be equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. 

For more information, visit the County’s Project Development Unit.