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Publication Date: Friday, March 09, 2001

PULL QUOTES (USE BOTH):

"We think this is a win-win in terms of a public-private partnership."

-Carl Shannon, senior director, Tishman Speyer

"My primary concern is depending on one company to provide three different projects at a time when the land economics could be changing in the city."

-Council member Rosemary Stasek

City could parnter with developer for Bryant-California project City could parnter with developer for Bryant-California project (March 09, 2001)

95,000 square feet of offics, retail development and 100 townhouses, plus underground parking

By Justin Scheck

As open land in Mountain View continues to become a scarce -- and valuable -- commodity, downtown developers are finding it more complicated than ever to launch new projects.

A proposed project by the New York-based developer Tishman Speyer properties attests to these complications.

The company's proposal, unveiled Tuesday before city council, would consolidate three parcels in the Bryant Street-California Street area of the downtown to make room for a large multi-use complex of townhouses, offices, retail space, and underground public parking.

One of these parcels is partly owned by Tishman Speyer, but ownership of the rest of the land is split between the city and two local owners.

In a further twist, the city-owned site at the northeast corner of Bryant and California Streets is earmarked by the city to house a 450-space public parking garage.

Tishman Speyer has told the city council that it wants to build a mixed-use project that would create 95,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of retail space, 100 townhouses and 450 public parking spaces in an underground lot.

Carl Shannon, Tishman Speyer's senior director in Silicon Valley, called the proposal "a cohesive project... We think this is a win-win in terms of a public-private partnership."

Shannon said the three-story office buildings and "upper-end" townhomes would bring the area together and create a more attractive setting than the above-grade parking structure.

The Tishman Speyer proposal would have the city sell its land to the developer, and in turn pay Tishman Speyer to build the parking garage.

Shannon said this arrangement would benefit the city by giving them a set, per-space rate for constructing the parking, thereby foregoing financial risks that could arise if the city contracted the parking garage as an independent project.

Elaine Costello, the city's community development director, said the city staff has reviewed the proposal, but only to the extent of preparing enough background information for the council to get an overview of the project and decide whether they are interested in pursuing it.

The report compiled by city staff outlines some of the potential positive and negative impacts the Tishman Speyer proposal could have for the city.

Positives include the city not having to issue $8 million to $10 million in bonds for a parking structure, and the fact that retail, office, and residential properties would generate tax revenue for the downtown revitalization district, while the parking garage would not.

Negatives outlined by city staff include questions of whether the city would profit from the land transaction, as well as the prospect of complex legal and planning arrangements necessitated by such a transaction.

Another issue that arose Tuesday was that city staff will have to work on studying these issues while simultaneously studying the proposed parking garage.

This is because any bonds that would be issued for an above-ground parking structure must be finalized by January 2004.

And while the city council was enthusiastic about having staff look further into the project, Council member Rosemary Stasek said she had serious questions about it.

"My primary concern is depending on one company to provide three different projects at a time when the land economics could be changing in the city," said Stasek.

She said that, if the project goes well for the next two years and suddenly falls through in late 2003, it would be nearly impossible for the city to prepare a bond measure for the parking structure, and the city plot would continue to lie vacant.

Furthermore, Stasek said she worries about losing control of city property, especially the city plot not designated for the parking structure.

"I was very concerned about losing a city-owned parcel that we have not even discussed yet," she said.

The issue of the parking structure was also discussed Tuesday morning by the downtown committee, which recommended that the council approve a parking garage with three or four floors and some below-grade space.

The committee passed over a proposal to provide senior housing on top of the parking structure.

Greg Perry, a former city council candidate who has advocated high-density housing in the city, said the Tishman Speyer project would worsen the city's jobs-housing imbalance.

Perry said the project would create significantly more jobs than housing, and would do so in an area where a large-scale, high-density project would fit in well.

"It's surrounded by tall things on three sides, so why not make it tall?" asked Perry.

Costello said the city has never entered into a public-private partnership like the one proposed by Tishman Speyer. However, the developer has had a long-standing presence downtown, having developed 444 Castro St., as well as the in-progress 400 Castro St. building. 


 

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