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August 28, 2007 > Centerville Unified Site - a status report

Centerville Unified Site - a status report

It has been five years since the Fremont city council, acting as the Fremont Redevelopment Agency board, met to hear community comments on a "Centerville" sign that would sit atop the new Ralph's supermarket on Fremont Boulevard. The market was to be built and located at a "Unified Site" consolidated from several owners between Fremont Boulevard, Thornton Avenue, Post Street and Bonde Way.

Heated public exchanges about which way the sign should face or if such an icon should be double sided were thought to be one of the last details for public review. Result? No sign, no supermarket, no development. Existing businesses were relocated or terminated and buildings finally razed. At the present time, the land has been leveled and patiently waits for the next round of redevelopment action. Following the subsequent Charter Development project collapse, citizens are not quite so patient, but there is action and a bit of hope on the horizon.

A new Request for Qualifications (RFQ) has been issued and answered by six developers who represent groups interested in the Centerville Unified Site. Initial site plans indicate mixed use (commercial/residential). These include:

Blake Hunt Ventures (BCV Architects; Cornish and Carey Brokers) - commercial/grocery store anchor/residential

Santa Clara Development Company (ELS Architecture, MVE Architects; Colliers International Leasing) - residential/retail

AF Evans Company (KodamaDiseno Architects; Crosspoint Realty Services)

MasterDevCo/Urban Housing Group/Highland Company (with MVE Architects, Ken Caron (Highland Development) leasing consultant) - residential/retail

Opus West/Regis Homes (SB Architects; Roger Shank Consulting; Jim Randolph/Cornish and Carey leasing consultant) - residential/retail

Clark Realty Capital (Torti Gallas Architecture; CBRE marketing and leasing) - residential/retail

TCV asked Elisa Tierney, City of Fremont Redevelopment Agency Director about what to expect next.

TCV: What is the current status of the Centerville Unified Site?

Tierney: Six groups have responded to the RFQ. We are doing our due diligence at this time. These are not proposals, simply qualifications. Respondents were allowed to submit one drawing of a site plan without elevations, color renderings or engineer drawings. We really wanted to focus on their abilities and experience. It is important to see how a team has worked together; their ability to finance the project. We are looking at their track record.

TCV: What happens next?

Tierney: On September 11, we plan to hold development team interviews. Depending on what is found in our due diligence, we may hold six interviews or less. The interview panel will consist of staff, consultants and community representatives. Sometime after that there is the possibility of an additional interview with the city manager. If there is a clear front runner, we might suggest that the agency board begin negotiating with that developer. However, it is more likely that we will ask several of these developers for a proposal. We are hoping to put something before the redevelopment agency board in either case in October.

TCV: Who will be on the interview panel?

Tierney: I will be on the panel along with Community Development Director, Jill Keimach; City Attorney Harvey Levine, Planning Director Jeff Schwob (or his designee), Rev. Greg Roth from Centerville Presbyterian Church (property owner) and a representative of the Centerville Business and Community Association. Also, a representative from each of our consultants: Kaiser Marsten; Jack Nagel, legal counsel and Andy Plesha will be included.

TCV: If there are multiple candidates, what will happen at the board meeting?

Tierney: We are assuming that this will follow a fast track since these teams have already done much of the "heavy lifting" already. They know what they can do and have presumably anticipated some of the number crunching. They have a sense of what they want to do and how to do it. A preliminary site plan has already been done as well. Depending on when the agency board takes action, the turnaround time to submit a proposal may be approximately one month, best case is sometime in November.

TCV: Evaluation and choice of the preferred developer will follow?

Tierney: We have a very ambitious schedule. The preferred timeline shows us evaluating and giving a recommendation of a preferred developer within a month of receiving the proposals. This would culminate in a choice by the agency board of a particular team. If that happens, we would probably be directed to negotiate an Exclusive Right to Negotiate (ERN) agreement.

TCV: If we assume that a single developer is chosen by the end of the year, what then?

Tierney: There may be a period of 180 days to negotiate an ERN agreement. At the end of that, a Development and Disposition Agreement (DDA) is pretty much established. Shortly thereafter, when approved next summer, the developer will begin their permit process. That is a planning function. Construction could be projected to begin approximately one year from that point [summer 2009].

TCV: When does the public give input into the process?

Tierney: When developer selections are presented to the Redevelopment Agency Board, this is clearly a point at which there will be public comment. We have not anticipated public workshops or community participation to move toward a preferred developer. It is up to the agency board whether there will be continued participation of the community members on the interview panel. The agency is trying to balance community involvement with the idea of streamlining this process.

I feel fairly well informed based on the workshops we held earlier this year. I was surprised at the unified voice of the community. When we distilled the focus, the community was pretty well in synch. All of that information was included in the RFQ. So the developers know what the expectation is of the agency board and community. At this point, we are not making this a beauty contest, rather focusing on qualifications and ending up with an informed group of developers who are qualified. Then we can focus on the site plan. At that point we begin another process, with considerable public input, to work through the planning commission, creating and crafting the project.

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