Highsmith: ‘The city did nothing wrong’
Alameda’s city attorney is denying SunCal’s claim that the city violated a contract offering the developer exclusive rights to negotiate a deal to develop Alameda Point. The Southern California developer sued the city Wednesday in federal court in an effort to force the city to bring them back to the negotiating table.
City Attorney Teresa Highsmith denied SunCal’s claim that Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant sabotaged the developer’s efforts to reach a deal for the Point so she and the city could develop the property themselves. Highsmith, who said Friday morning that she had read the suit but that the city had not yet been served with it, said the city plans to vigorously defend itself.
“The City Council denied the SunCal plan because after three years of trying, SunCal’s project failed to meet the needs and goals of the Alameda community – not because the City wanted to develop the property itself or get rid of SunCal,” Highsmith wrote in response to a request for comment on the suit last week.
Highsmith said the project the City Council denied on July 20 was the same one 85 percent of voters rejected at the polls in February. She said the complaint contains “many inaccurate statements” and that the city did nothing wrong.
“If SunCal had truly wanted to partner with the Alameda community in the development of Alameda Point, the litigation threats and this lawsuit are hardly the way to show it,” Highsmith said.
SunCal’s attorneys said the city breached their negotiating agreement with SunCal and violated the developer’s constitutional rights because, they said, city officials made it impossible for the developer to ink a land transfer deal with the Navy, one of the milestones they needed to meet in order to extend the agreement past its July 20 expiration date.
They have also accused Gallant of forming other plans to develop the base when she was supposed to be working toward a deal with SunCal.
The developer is seeking to prohibit the city from moving forward on fresh plans to develop the former Naval Air Station and to require the city to continue negotiations with them.