Despite hearing several impassioned pleas to let things be, the San Leandro City Council voted unanimously Monday night to give a developer up to six years to plan a 40-acre hotel, restaurant, office and residential project at the Marina.
Edward J. Miller, president of Cal-Coast Companies in Los Angeles, said he hoped the development could be permitted and get underway much earlier, perhaps as soon as 2014.
The plan has been in the works since 2008, and has been reviewed by a citizen advisory committee with more than two-dozen members, many of whom were at Monday night's meeting to get certificates thanking them for their service.
Currently, the includes:
- a 225 room hotel and conference center;
- about 250,000 square feet of office space;
- about 170 housing units of various types;
- restaurants, some retail, a library and pedestrian amenities
The speakers who addressed the council included area residents who object to the commercialization of the Marina and the changing character of the area, and boat owners who fear they will lose their berths at the boat harbor.
Mulford Gardens resident Audrey Albers said the project had too many potential pitfalls for the city to give Cal-Coast such a long time to put its plan together.
"It seems to be that Cal-Coast is holding all the cards and San Leandro is going to get stuck holding the bag," she told the council.
San Leandro residents Walter Buettner and Dwight Pitcarthley were among the boat owners who fear that the plan puts the city on a path to converting the boat harbor into an aquatic park for uses such as kayaking.
City officials say San Leandro doesn't have the money to dredge the harbor. Buettner had explored the idea of to keep the harbor's navigable but the ferry-planning agency has in San Leandro.
An informal Patch poll in advance of Monday's meeting for pursuing the development.
In the end the council decided Cal-Coast offered the best deal for San Leandro because the developer will spend roughly $500,000 to do environmental studies while the city will retain ownership of the land to exert some influence on the project over the long term.
Miller told the council that despite the bad economic climate now, this is the right time to get started on the permitting so that the project is ready as a hoped-for improvement in the economy takes hold.
He said the had caught the attention of real estate firms that have Silicon Valley clients, and they have approached Cal-Coast about finding an occupant for the office space.
"We hope to bring a Google or a Twitter or one of those companies here," business development director Cynthia Battenberg told the council.
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