Years of planning come to a head tonight when the City Council will decide whether to give developer David Irmer what amounts to a $4 million subsidy to build the Village Marketplace -- a retail development that, supporters say, will prove its worth by generating sales and property tax revenues, revitalizing downtown San Leandro and creating more than 100 permanent jobs.
The city's former redevelopment agency paid $6.175 million for the parcel at 1550 East 14th Street, former site of a Luckys Supermarket.
The deal before the council calls for selling the land for $2.25 million.
The $4 million difference is a paper loss that will not affect the city's general fund, which pays for police, libraries and public works.
That's because the land was acquired by the city's former redevelopment agency using a separate pot of revenues which the state has taken away.
Because this land was bought with redevelopment funds, the city council's decision will be reviewed by an oversight board of county and municipal officials who will meet Wednesday.
A generated a good deal of commentary, pro and con.
Supporters noted that the Village Marketplace is backed by the Downtown San Leandro Association and other groups that believe the development will draw consumers downtown and boost business in the district. The $4 million loss on the land sale would be made up with increased taxes over time, they said.
Detractors argued that the stores slated occupy the development -- including a Fresh & Easy Market, Peet's, Chipotle and AT&T Store -- don't add much to the city's retail mix and would more likely shift dollars from existing merchants to the newcomers rather than bring new sales to the city. Better to leave the land a parking lot until a better deal comes along, from their view.
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