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February 13, 2008 > Centerville Unified Site plan faces revisions

Centerville Unified Site plan faces revisions

The story of the Centerville Unified Site again faces significant revisions. What was destined to be the final chapter of this saga, using the expertise of Blake Hunt Ventures, successor to the ill-fated Charter Development proposal will be rewritten. The Fremont Redevelopment Agency Board, synonymous with the Fremont City Council, will be apprised of the altered plan at the city council meeting on Tuesday, February 19. TCV asked Blake Hunt Ventures CEO, Brad Blake about the new proposal.

TCV: What has changed?

Blake: We are proposing to develop approximately five of the six plus acres at the site. The undeveloped land would be retained by the city and would be developed in some manner in the future. It was decided to reserve it for better economic alternatives.

TCV: What happened to the concept of a small market on the site? Is this change the result of an unrealistic expectation or a shift in market conditions?

Blake: Probably a combination of both. If you look at where grocery stores are located in Fremont and Newark, the demographics and traffic patterns, from a purely analytical perspective, it appears there is a hole to fill. However, when discussing this with possible tenants, the added business from a store in this location does not appear to entice them. Tesco (U.K.) which had initially shown interest in the site appears more interested in existing buildings around the Bay Area.

TCV: The example being used for a major tenant of the complex is a full service pharmacy. Why?

Blake: This type of business uses a different model and a pharmacy is a bit more neighborhood-oriented. A couple of major pharmacies have indicated interest in that site.

TCV: What is envisioned for the remaining buildings?

Blake: One of the buildings might house a bank. That plus the pharmacy will leave about 30,000 plus square feet. We anticipate a 15,000 square feet of food-related/restaurant business with the balance used by various retail and service businesses.

TCV: Is this still considered a pedestrian oriented development?

Blake: Yes. The ultimate pedestrian oriented tenant is the restaurant. Shops need to have storefronts that interact with the sidewalk and pedestrians.

TCV: Is this proposal a major shift from the initial plan?

Blake: I do not consider this a big change in building tenancy and layout. The major changes are:

No grocery store, but we began with the premise that the 15,000 square foot space would possibly be a grocery store but could be something else such as a pharmacy.

Addition of a 'town green' element

Retail orientation toward Fremont Boulevard without a major internal street.

TCV: Are you still optimistic about moving forward with this site?

Blake: Our interest is in retail development. If the council decides they want to vertically integrate this site with residential units, we are probably not interested. In that event, we will withdraw from the project.

TCV: How do you envision the architectural design for the Unified Site?

Blake: Classic and timeless rather than trendy. We are not trying to create more historic buildings, rather a development that compliments the area.

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