Jul 29, 2014
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City Council Approves Village Marketplace

Downtown development now must be reviewed by a new oversight board.

City Council Approves Village Marketplace

 

After three years of planning, the moved closer to construction Monday night when the City Council voted unanimously to sell a parcel of land on East 14th Street for the city paid for it.

The project faces another hurdle before developer David Irmer can break ground on the retail plaza that would be anchored by a Fresh & Easy Market: the decision must be ratified by a new board that oversees how cities dispose of properties that they acquired through their redevelopment agencies.

The state has . The new oversight board has seven members: two appointed by the city, and the other five appointed by the county, the school board, AC Transit and the community colleges.

The oversight board meets Wednesday.

Council members agreed with city staff that selling the parcel for $2.25 million, or $4 million less than its acquisition cost, would be recouped by increased sales and property taxes, the boost that the project will give the downtown and the 500 construction and 113 permanent jobs that it will create.

"How do we convince the oversight board that it's beneficial to them," Council Jim Prola asked.

City business development officer Cynthia Battenberg said the county, the school board, the transit district and school board would also benefit from sales taxes of $750,000 a year and property taxes of $100,000 per year that the project is expected to generate.

Audrey Velasquez from the Downtown San Leandro Association and Gaye Quinn from the Chamber of Commerce endorsed the project.

Community member Deborah Cox spoke in favor of the marketplace on her own behalf.

School board member Mike Katz-Lacabe did not support or oppose the project but argued that the planning process had never really given community members a voice until it was a done deal.

City Manager Chris Zapata told the council that approval or denial would be taken as a sign.

"What message are you sending to the business community," he asked.

In the end the vote was enthusiatic and unanimous.

Irmer said if the oversight board okayed the project and there were no further obstacles, he would break ground in November, make an efort to use local labor, pay prevailing wage and be ready for occupancy about September 2013.

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