Liveblog from Fremont Study Session 1/12
Just got here. Jeffrey and gojohn10 are present. Not quite Packed house, plenty of supporters and opposition on hand. All hands on deck from Council and City Staff.
Mayor Wasserman just mentioned that because this is a study session, there is nothing to vote on tonight.
City Manager Diaz said that a sports consultant, Dan Barrett of Barrett Sports Group, will speak towards the end. He is giving the intro now focused on the NUMMI closure. Diaz makes clear that Council has not approved or endorsed the “conceptual approach” (plausible deniability?).
Presentation now being given on potential at NUMMI. Emphasis on turning the land around more quickly than other large-scale projects such as closed military bases. A catalyst project, such as a ballpark, could help.
5:17 PM – Dan Barrett now speaks on conceptual approach. “MLB’s timing was such that we needed to get this in.” The panel was looking for communities that could provide land and infrastructure, while the ball team (A’s) would pay for the construction of the stadium. The site (northern part of NUMMI) is clean and would require minimal demolition. The A’s would be responsible for construction and cost overruns (explanation later).
Side note: Barrett Sports Group has worked with the Giants, A’s, Padres, and River Cats.
Parking requirements will be reduced once BART to San Jose opens, allowing for further development opportunities on the land initially assigned for parking.
Siting of ballpark at Grimmer/Fremont was felt to be best for fostering ancillary development.
“We discussed deal terms with the A’s (regarding Pacific Commons) but never got to the point of making the deal.” Now discussing lease terms. The City would have the right to host several events per year. All ballpark operations costs and municipal services are the responsibility of the A’s. The City will have no direct investment in the ballpark.
If City wants to move forward, it should approach County to acquire the land. County or JPA would own the land during the lease, County would own land after lease is terminated. Rent, other project sources, and TIF would be used to finance infrastructure. $300 million in infrastructure has already been made in the area. Additional project-specific infrastructure would be funded using TIF, etc.
Back to Fred Diaz. Diaz reemphasizes that this is not a proposal. Nothing has been decided yet. Now Council will have questions.
Natarajan: What is the difference between a “conceptual approach” and a proposal?
Barrett: We (staff/consultants) did not have the authority to make a proposal. It’s not an approved deal and they (MLB) understand that.
Natarajan: And what was proposed by Oakland?
Barrett: Something along the lines of sites, I don’t know if it was a formal proposal.
Natarajan: Why was the committee looking for proposals?
Barrett: Lew Wolff is looking in San Jose, the committee wanted to see what proposals were made, what happened, why didn’t (deals) happen? Then it moved to “what sites are available?” It wasn’t until NUMMI announced that it was closing the plant, and then in November, that work could begin.
Natarajan: When will a decision be made?
Barrett: We think it’ll be at the end of the month, but we don’t know.
Wieckowski: If we find a new user (auto manufacturer), what is the impact?
Lori Taylor: It depends, there may be room to have the site be declared underutilized.
Diaz: We would have to see what the uses are.
Taylor: There is an undeveloped portion at the south end of the plant which could be used for a new user. A new user’s need for space may differ (from NUMMI).
Jill Keimach: Infrastructure is only available on the outskirts of the project area. The 120 acre site is undeveloped and would require new infrastructure (water, sewer, sidewalks).
Wieckowski: What other catalysts have been identified to energize the site?
Diaz: (joke about Dubai’s indoor skiing facility) Nobody really knows. Sometimes they fall out of the sky. Sometimes a collection of leaders pursue it. It’s hypothetical. We wondered, “What if MLB asked us?”
Wieckowski: What would be our timeline if MLB weren’t interested in the site?
Diaz: It’s in the ether somewhere. If you look at Alameda NAS or Hamilton Airfield or Fort Ord, those have been there a long long time.
Taylor: We plan of submitting an RFP/RFQ to the EPA soon. It could take 6 months, so hopefully by the end of the summer.
Chan: 114 of 120 acres are owned by NUMMI. Who owns the other six?
Keimach: There is a single family home and a construction storage area.
Chan: Would Alameda County weigh in on the financing?
Diaz: There has been no official dialogue with AC yet, but some supervisors have expressed interest in keeping the A’s in the Bay Area.
Barrett: Historically AC has not had any votes regarding deals with the A’s or Raiders.
Chan: What is NUMMI’s opinion?
Diaz: They are aware, they have not expressed approval or disapproval so far.
Chan: What about site cleanup?
Keimach: We’ll do a check and any contamination would be the responsibility of the instigator, just like a gas station. We don’t expect to find contamination at the site.
Chan: How can this be done without impacting the general fund?
Barrett: Property taxes or possessory interest taxes would be used along with rent for the needed infrastructure. The team would also pay traffic impact fees for the additional road construction.
CEQA may not be completed by …?
Keimach: Action would have to be taken by August 1 to get it onto the ballot.
Harrison: What is NUMMI using the 120 acres for now?
Taylor: Much of it is unused and leased for agricultural uses. A large section is used for “vehicle marshaling” (er, parking)
Harrison: There was an HOK study done years ago. Are we back to that spot?
Barrett: Yes we are.
Harrison: Except for BART.
Barrett: Yes, BART is more “real.”
6:13 PM – Mayor points out that the next step will only happen if MLB wants it to happen. If it doesn’t, this will be the beginning and the end. Tonight, there is limited time for public comments until the regular session, so the bulk of public comments will be reserved until the regular session.