By 1945 (just as other development in Millbrae was beginning), Niels Schultz, the developer of the neighborhood, completed his original plan for the Millbrae Highlands. The subdivision ended at what is now the Spur Trail (then a railroad spur and at one point the proposed path of a freeway before becoming protected open space in 1975), where Schultz built smaller homes of two and three bedrooms, which can now be had for approximately $1 to $1.8 million, less than the larger, older homes closer to downtown.
Schultz was finished – he went on to create Greenbrae, in Marin County – but Millbrae Highlands was not. Within a few years, construction began on homes further into Millbrae’s western hills.
This part of Millbrae Highlands is very different from the “old” neighborhood core. Once gridded and tree-lined, streets between Minorca and the 280 freeway wind uphill, sometimes ending in cul-de-sacs, with minimal trees to block San Francisco Bay Views. Homes here resemble those found in Mills Estates – sprawling one and two-story houses with mid-century influences, shallow pitched roofs and large windows designed to maximize views.
Millbrae Highlands homes for sale are not inexpensive, but they undercut comparable properties in established Burlingame, San Mateo and Menlo Park neighborhoods. Niels Schultz’ original Highlands homes range in price from around $1.6 to as high as $1.9 or $2 million, while newer homes located higher into the hills fall into a similar range. These homes, built in the 1950s and 1960s, can be quite large, sometimes with more than four bedrooms, three or more bathrooms and more than 3,000 square feet of space.
“Your place in the sunshine” trumpets a brochure for Niels Schultz’ Millbrae Highlands development, dated 1939. “Less than 25 minutes takes you out of the fog into the all-year sunshine.” In one short decade, Schultz had completed Millbrae’s first major subdivision, turning empty hills into a fully-realized neighborhood, complete with schools and access to a rapidly growing downtown. Homes ranged in price from $6,000 to $15,000.
By any measure, Millbrae Highlands was a success from the moment Schultz broke ground on his first house. By the mid-1930s, Hazel Avenue resident Schultz counted at least two major league baseball players – Gus Suhr of the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankee Tony Lazzeri – as neighbors. Eight decades later, Millbrae Highlands takes its place among the other San Mateo County landmark neighborhoods like Burlingame’s Easton Addition, Redwood City’s Mt. Carmel and San Mateo’s Aragon.
There are those who prefer the sleek view homes of Mills Estate, but there is no arguing the charms of Millbrae Highlands. Nor is there any arguing its important. Niels Schultz’ vision transformed Millbrae from a rural settlement to a city.
The Highlands is one of the most sought after neighborhood in Millbrae
The homes in the Millbrae Highlands neighborhood are an amalgam of Spanish and Mission-style homes, along with a few English cottages and Tudors. Most homes have two stories, three or four bedrooms and more than 2,000 square feet of living space. Many have finished daylight basements. Some have more than 3,000 square feet of space. Their setting is traditional early 20th-century suburb: tree-lined streets located a short walk from downtown.