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Publication Date: Friday, July 06, 2001

North Bayshore Hotel effort inches forward North Bayshore Hotel effort inches forward (July 06, 2001)

Field of potential developers narrowed down to four

by Justin Scheck "We're looking for somebody with the financial capability and the ability to finish the project." -- Ellis Berns, MV economic development manager


Mountain View's long-standing effort to get a luxury hotel built on North Bayshore's Charleston East site moved forward last week when the city council narrowed potential developers down to a short list of four.

At a June 27 meeting the council decided to accept proposals from developers of luxury hotels and conference centers who have deep enough pockets to develop a hotel in the midst of an economic downturn.

Since the city released a request for qualifications (RFQ) on March 16, nine development teams submitted proposals. But with the city council and staff concerned that work on a large number of proposals could put undue strain on city resources, the council decided to work only with a small number of developers whose track records and financial statements make them strong candidates.

Lowe Hospitality Group and Destination Hotels and Resorts, Landmark organization and Bass's Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts, and Hyatt Development Corp. were recommended by Ellis Berns, the city's economic development manager, as short-list candidates. David S. Taylor Interests, Inc., was added to the list because council member Sally Lieber liked their proposed plan to integrate the hotel with a cultural center planned for the site.

"We're looking for somebody with the financial capability and the ability to finish the project," said Berns.

He said that the RFQ responses were not intended to evaluate a developer's vision for the site, but to determine only whether they meet the city's standards in terms of financial assets and quality of past projects.

The 18.6 acre Charleston East site is city-owned, and is zoned for a hotel/conference center of up to 14.6-acres and a 4.2-acre cultural/ education project, the nature of which has not been determined.

The city has been keen on getting the hotel built because it could bring an estimated $2.5 million into the city's general fund each year, potentially offsetting what city finance officials fear will be lean times for the city's general fund.

The city plans on keeping ownership of the site, and entering into a lease agreement with the developer. Berns said that, while the nature of the lease agreement will not be determined until a deal is struck with a developer, the RFQ outlines some basic terms to which a developer must agree.

These include a provision that the hotel developer enter into a labor neutrality agreement with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union Local 19, which would require the hotel to not interfere with union organizing activities.

Council member Rosemary Stasek said that in deciding which companies would make the cut, she looked for corporations which would be least subject to economic fluctuations.

"I wasn't in the position (at the meeting) where I liked or didn't like somebody's proposal. What I was looking for were viable candidates," said Stasek.

Stasek said she would like to have a developer for the site with enough capital to be able to build a project that won't be contingent on outside financing.

Berns said that the city will request the developers on the short list to come up with detailed design proposals, which will be reviewed by city staff. He said staff is aiming to have a project approved by late October.

"We're looking at two to three years, I would say, probably from the time we determine the developer" to completion of the project, said Berns.

He added that the city will not choose its preferred project based on the number of rooms, but will make its decision based on the overall quality of the proposal.

Berns said the city hopes to have a hotel with 250 to 350 rooms.

According to Michael Percy, the city's principal planner, city staff work on the cultural/educational component of the site will begin after a hotel project is approved.


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