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August 15, 2006 > Those tumbling walls

Those tumbling walls

by Steve Warga

Hayward City Council's August hiatus provides time to catch-up on unfinished business, like the proposed sale of the 11-story building sitting vacant next to Centennial Hall on Foothill Blvd. "Some people call it affectionately the toaster," notes City Manager Jesus Armas. And yes, he's optimistic that the razing of that long-abandoned building will proceed in January as he first projected to the council in May.

Back then, Armas suggested his staff would need about 60 days to prepare a purchase agreement with private developer, Intercoastal Property Group (IPG). They wanted to buy the parking garage next to the tower for $1.5 million. "Okay," said the city, "but you have to raze that tower you own no later than January, 2007." IPG agreed, but made clear they preferred holding on to their tower property as is. Since nothing in the way of a purchase agreement came to the council before August, TCV sat down with Armas for a review.

"We're slated to return (to the council) in September," he stated. "We're working through issues with the land owner, but the general parameters the council established remain the same." Armas says IPG is moving forward with their original concept of building condominiums on top of the parking garage. They're projecting a December appearance before the city Planning Commissions where they will seek approval to proceed. Once they have those approvals, they will purchase the garage and then the walls of the 11-story building will come tumbling down.

IPG has offered no hint of what plans they may have for that site, once the rubble is cleared, but Armas disclosed the city's next step for Centennial Hall. "We anticipate moving into Request For Proposals for the Centennial Hall site." It's been an open question until now, just what the city might do with the perennial money drain the Hall has proven to be for some time now. If the garage sale does go through, parking for Centennial Hall attendees will suffer greatly. It appears the council may be ready to finally shut it down, but not without some consideration of relocating.

Armas says they're looking at several options for building an updated conference facility, perhaps in partnership with BART. He emphasizes that it's a conference facility they want, not a convention center that would require considerably greater square footage. He's already eyeing the BART property at Montgomery and B Streets; envisioning an upscale hotel on one side of B Street and the conference facility on the other. With his track record and the city council's support, they just might make it happen.

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