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Council Gives Marina Developer Time To Pursue Plan

Up to six years possible but developer Ed Miller of Cal-Coast Companies tells Council he hopes to start much earlier.

 

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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Marga Lacabe April 03, 2012 at 10:27 PM
What happened to Mayor Cassidy's campaign promise that he would first hold a referendum as to any development plans for the Marina? Forgotten, as pretty much all his other promises?
Fran April 03, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Ugh. If the city believed for one minute the majority of residents are for this, they would put it up for a vote. And Mayor Cassidy's chatter about giving us a final vote on the development doesn't count. What exactly would we vote on at that time? Whether the kayaks for rent are blue or yellow? He should give it a rest and stop insulting our intelligence, if he is to retain any credibility at all. He obviously has his mind made up, so he should be a leader and let it be known to the citizens of San Leandro. There is a lot of vagueness about this entire "project" IMO. Privatizing the library? Did I hear that right last night? This is public land and why, oh why, there isn’t more opposition being vocalized about this is beyond me.
John April 03, 2012 at 11:36 PM
The Council didn't approve a development plan - it approved a negotiating agreement with Cal Coast, which is the same thing that was done in October 2008, when the original Exclusive Negotiating Rights Agreement was approved by the City Council.. There is no final development plan to vote on. This is essentially an acknowledgement that the plan isn't done (hence the vagueness) or isn't financially feasible.
David April 04, 2012 at 12:23 AM
To be fair, I don't think the Mayor ever stated explicitly that he would hold a referendum of *San Leandro voters*. He could have held a referendum of the Council, or his family, or himself and a couple random people.
Marga Lacabe April 04, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Except, David, that a referendum means a direct vote of the whole electorate. Plus he didn't use that word, he said he'd put the plans up to the voters to decide. And John, it seems that it did approve a development plan as outlined above. Was the issue of the referendum referred to last night?
Fran April 04, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Well common sense tell me if the developer is going to the various agencies to get permits, just what do you think he is submitting to them? The plans! and once they get approval based on said plans, do you really believe they will be apt to modification that that point? No! I learned of some that were submitted to fill the entire harbor in, which were subsequently shot down by the bay authority.
Fran April 04, 2012 at 12:53 AM
"the city will retain ownership of the land to exert some influence on the project over the long term." That's Public Private partnership speak for the city will assume $liabilities$ with no return on their investments. :)
David April 04, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Just teasing you Marga. I really doubt a project of this size is viable, but what's another big pile of vacant buildings among friends.
Rob Rich April 04, 2012 at 01:47 AM
If it was viable, it would be going great guns right now. Development in San Francisco is starting to pick up a little bit, but not out here yet. They are probably brainstorming options and crossing their fingers & toes that the market improves enough in the East Bay that some plan will eventually present a glimmer of profitability. Voting on something this conceptual seems pointless to me.

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