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Publication Date: Friday, August 17, 2001

City talks with Tishman Speyer about Bryant Street property City talks with Tishman Speyer about Bryant Street property (August 17, 2001)

Developer given exclusive rights

by Justin Scheck

In its continuing efforts to develop downtown as a destination point with modern buildings and adequate parking facilities, the City Council has entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with developer Tishman-Speyer to discuss a potential development on city-owned downtown property.

The city-owned land on Bryant Street between Mercy and California Streets had been slated for a parking garage until Tishman Speyer, which owns nearby properties, proposed in March that the city enter into a joint agreement to develop a mixed-use development on the site.

Although Tishman Speyer's proposal outlines a specific plan for the site, the city council voted on July 31 to grant the developer exclusive negotiating rights for the property for a 120-day period with one 60-day extension. The agreement leaves open the specifics of the development. The agreement leaves open the specifics of the development.

Tishman Speyer will pay the city at least $250,000, and up to $300,000 to cover consultant and legal fees for the city during the negotiating process.

According to Carl Shannon, Tishman Speyer's senior director for Silicon Valley, the proposal for the site would involve connecting a 100,000 square foot office building with 10,000 square feet of retail space, 85 residential units and 425 underground public parking spaces split between two buildings.

The parking spaces are intended to serve as a substitute for the above-ground parking structure the city planned to build at the corner of Bryant and California.

"I have no problem with it. I think that, because of the specialized nature of it, I'm fine with pursuing it... It's actually a really good deal for the city. We're going to end up with a much better outcome for the community," said Council member Sally Lieber.

Shannon said the city will benefit by having the parking "built in an economical fashion, as an integrated part of the mixed use project... And the office building that would not exist if the parking structure is built would be a significant tax boon for the city."

But Council member Rosemary Stasek, who has questioned the proposal since Tishman Speyer first came up with it earlier this year, said she is wary of negotiating with a single developer before the city gauges interest from other companies.

"It really kind of smacks of exclusivity. We're even calling it an exclusive agreement... In every other circumstance we'd go out and figure out how to do it, and we would do a [request for proposals]," said Stasek.

Although the agreement with Tishman Speyer is non-binding, and would allow the city to look at other proposals if negotiations with the developer fail, Stasek was skeptical.

"If somebody takes you out to dinner and spends $300,000 on you there are some expectations there," Stasek said at the July 31 meeting.

She said she has reservations about the size of the development, the suitability of the parking for downtown, and the fact that the plan would tie city-owned land up in a project that could be at the mercy of the local economy.

"It's such a large development, and all the parking will be underground. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people don't like to park underground... A lot of people will try to avoid it," said Stasek.

Mayor Mario Ambra joined Stasek in opposition, saying the he had similar concerns about negotiating with a single developer, and also that he had expected to see a more developed proposal from Tishman Speyer.

"The way I understood it, they were supposed to come back with their proposal, and they never came back with a specific proposal... What agreement are they going to work out? I'm hearing all sorts of different stories," said Ambra.


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