The City Council moved forward with plans for a large hotel and office development on city property Tuesday evening.
Council members voted 4-3 at the June 24 meeting to select Broadreach Capital as the favored developer for the 6.7-acre site at 750 Moffett Boulevard near Highway 101. Proposing a 182-room hotel and 146,000-square-foot office building, both four stories tall, the San Francisco-based company was chosen over three other finalists. Two other firms had proposed to build hotel-only projects on the site, including Marriott hotel "builder of the year" R.D. Olson. A total of 12 proposals were originally received.
A council majority said they wanted to "diversify" revenue sources for the city by adding office space into the mix, which is enough to accommodate 700 to 1,000 employees. The developer said there was an effort underway to buy another 3 acres next door, a former freeway interchange owned by Caltrans, so the project could add even more office and hotel space. "I think we can do both," the developer said.
"We don't need 700 office jobs pouring onto the freeway at that location with no place for the workers to live," said Lenny Siegel of the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View. The group voted the night before to oppose office use on the site, he said.
"I hear we can't tell private owners what to do, but that doesn't apply in this case. The fact is, we can't build office after office in Mountain View and not suffer the consequences."
Residents noted hotel use would help relieve pressure on the city's housing market, as Google has been leasing apartments to use as extended-stay hotels for their visiting employees.
Council members admitted that hotels may bring more revenue through higher transient occupancy taxes for the city, but expressed concern that it wouldn't be stable revenue.
"Even if the economy crashed, we have a stable income source," said council member Ronit Bryant, who said she wanted lease revenues to ensure the city remains "very rich in services to our residents."
She said her "fantasy" was big box retail on the site, but an analysis found office and hotel use would provide the best revenue for the city. Housing was not pursued partly because of the presence of toxic TCE contamination on the site, though either way, the relatively small amount that's there must be cleaned up, noted council candidate Jim Neal.
Council members John Inks, John McAllister and Jac Siegel voted against it. McAllister and Siegel said they favored the hotel-only proposals.
Resident Bob Weaver, representing the Slater Neighborhood Association, said the property will be "the face we present to the world as they drive down (highway) 101. To put up a common office building as a way to represent Mountain View is a tragic misuse of this property. Make it 100 percent hotel."
He noted that Broadreach has proposed less conference and event space than other bidders, about 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, a longtime desire in the community. The two hotel-only finalists proposed 10,000 square feet of event space. "Here we are a world-class city all dressed up and no place to go," Weaver said. "People in the neighborhood don't feel office space fits."
The developer had big promises for the site, including an environmentally friendly LEED silver building, bike sharing, shuttles, "attractive" open spaces, substantial revenue for the city, a pedestrian bridge over Stevens Creek to connect the creek's trail to the site and "first-class architecture" and "first class office space." "We hope we can beat your deadline by several quarters," a representative said.
City staff touted the Broadreach's considerable financial resources as a reason for choosing the firm. The company boasts $24 billion in assets.
The council will consider designs for the site at a later date, along with the issue of whether to require a labor peace agreement for the hotel in the project, which will ensure that unions can organize workers at the hotel without interference. Such an agreement would also mean less projected lease revenue, city staff members said.
"Workers are scared of losing their jobs if they fight for their rights," said Vanessa Anchondo, member of Local 19 of Unite HERE, whose members spoke about the need for decent wages in the area. "I hope this project can move forward with labor peace in place so the project can move forward without labor unrest and give workers like me a voice."