SUNCAL: ‘WE HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE’
A top-ranking executive from SunCal Companies told the City Council early this morning that the developer will submit an amended plan to develop Alameda Point by Monday and that it is prepared to release a host of once-confidential documents to the public.
Frank Faye, SunCal’s chief operating officer, said the company will amend the development application it submitted to the city on January 14 in order to correct deficiencies identified in a notice of default the city issued on February 4. City officials have said SunCal needs to submit a Measure A-compliant development plan, though the company could build additional housing if its plan includes a certain amount of “affordable” housing.
The company will also submit a letter “reserving” what it believes are its rights, Faye said, though it was not immediately clear what the letter would contain. He said the company has spent between $10 million and $12 million on the Point project so far, including $100,000 on the amended development plan.
Faye also said that SunCal has expanded the team it has working on the Point development. Faye said that in addition to himself, the company is working to bring former California State Assembly Speaker Robert M. Herzberg on board plus another “potential member” who he identified only as a resident of Alameda.
“We look forward to submitting a plan pursuant to the deadline, and to a completely transparent process,” Faye said. “It’s up to us to work with you to create something positive at Alameda Point.”
Leaders of two local trade unions – which paid thousands of dollars to help defeat Measure B, SunCal’s development initiative for Alameda Point but which now have a signed project labor agreement with the developer – stayed past 2 a.m. today to ask the council to work with SunCal to try to make a development deal for the Point.
“SunCal has created a team to move forward, to do something at the base,” said Andrew Slipka, a representative for Alameda County’s carpenters union. “The game is not over yet.”
But opponents of SunCal and Measure B stayed too, to ask the city to show SunCal the door. They said they were skeptical of SunCal’s new claims of openness, and that they thought the city should respect voters’ overwhelming defeat of Measure B by getting rid of the company.
“We’re weary and we’re wary of SunCal,” Measure B opponent Gretchen Lipow said. “We need to say, ‘Hasta la vista, SunCal.'”
The council had asked city staff to request that SunCal release documents that have to now been confidential and that the developer consider a more open negotiation process for the Point. Faye said he’d be willing to release information like the Point project’s pro forma, which lays out the financial assumptions for the company’s development plan for the Point.
In the months leading up to the Measure B vote, the city released council-requested reports laying out the potential financial and other pitfalls of the initiative. SunCal’s reps claimed their documentation, which they had shared with city staff, showed the risks were less than the city report claimed. But city officials said they couldn’t use SunCal’s documents to lay out their assumptions in the report, because the exclusive negotiating agreement the city has with SunCal required them to be kept confidential.
One document the company wants to keep confidential is the deal it worked out with financial partner D.E. Shaw to operate and finance efforts to work through the negotiating agreement for the Point.
The negotiating agreement ends in July.
The council had been set to decide on whether to give SunCal 60 days beyond the Monday deadline for it to fix the problems identified in the city’s notice of default, but Faye withdrew the request. City staff had recommended denying the request.
Vice Mayor Doug deHaan, who voted to select SunCal as master developer for the Point but has become the company’s strongest critic, said he’s not sure he can feel comfortable continuing to work with them.
“You’re coming from a position of distrust out there by the community. And you went that route by your own choosing,” deHaan said.
SunCal’s plan will need to go through an administrative process with the city and if it appears complete, it could next go to the Planning Board for consideration. Meanwhile, Faye asked the council to consider setting up a subcommittee that would be involved in the process as it happens, instead of getting all the information at the end, when they need to make a decision.