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SunCal appears to meet default deadline

Submitted by on 1, March 23, 2010 – 5:00 am2 Comments

Developer SunCal Companies appeared to meet the city’s deadline for curing an alleged default by submitting a Measure A-compliant development plan for Alameda Point less than an hour before the deadline was to expire. But the developer also disputed the default in a letter that laid out its desire to move forward on the non-Measure A compliant plan they said they and the city have been working toward for more than two years.

In the letter, SunCal land use counsel Amy Freilich said the developer’s negotiations with the city for a development deal at the Point were never predicated on building a Measure A-compliant development, and she said that even the city acknowledged it could not legally bar construction of multifamily housing there.

Still, Freilich said the letter was not intended as a precursor to litigation, but part of an effort to move forward on the development. In the letter, she asks for a City Council subcommittee to participate directly in negotiations or, failing that, mediation.

The developer submitted an amended plan to city officials late Monday afternoon that would put 3,712 homes at the Point, less than the 4,841 contemplated in Measure B and the identical development plan SunCal submitted directly to the city on January 14, less than three weeks before their ballot measure was declined by an 85 percent to 15 percent vote. That number would include 3,324 new homes plus 186 replacement homes for the Alameda Point Collaborative and another 202 in existing structures at the Point (157 of those would be “affordable” units permitted under an old lawsuit settlement).

Most of the housing in the new plan – nearly 2,900 units – would be packed into a single residential district made up of duplexes and also single-family homes that would be on lots that are 50 percent smaller than SunCal’s earlier plan. The rest of the housing would be live-work units scattered across the rest of the Point.

The new plan includes about 4 million square feet of office space, up about 800,000 square feet from the earlier plan, and 262,000 square feet of retail, down from 350,000 in the earlier plan. It also lists a solar farm in the Northwest Territories.

Many of the rest of the new plan’s features are the same as SunCal’s earlier plan, including its plan to include 146 acres of parkland and sports complex and land for a host of civic uses and schools. The new plan calls for new transit options to help move new residents around. And it relies on the same list of funding sources – including tax increment financing and resident-funded assessments for transit and other improvements – to pay for the development.

The new plan alludes to a plan to use the city’s just-passed density bonus, which allows developers to request permission to bypass development standards like lot lines and building heights and to build additional (and potentially non-Measure A compliant) housing in exchange for the development of affordable housing and child care and for land donations. But it doesn’t clearly lay out whether the bonus could be requested to generate additional housing, and an application for the bonus did not appear to have been submitted with SunCal’s package.

It does not appear to specifically address major questions like how SunCal will satisfy a lawsuit settlement agreement requiring anyone who develops the Point to make 25 percent of the housing they build affordable to lower-income residents. And other hot-button items, including the public benefits SunCal will offer and exactions that allow the developer to trade benefits for fees they would normally pay, are listed as items to be negotiated with the city.

SunCal has asked the city to put the plan online and a company spokesman said it has set up a website, http://www.seealamedapoint.com, to house all the documents and information related to negotiations to develop the Point. (It wasn’t up when I checked at about 1 a.m. today.)

More to come.

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