Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone seeks project developer

College will work individually with any company wanting to bid after ending talks with firm

By Linh Tat, Staff writer.

Saturday, April 14, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—After negotiations with one developer fell through, Ohlone College trustees have opted to skip trying to work individually with another company and go straight to reviewing proposals from anyone interested in developing the college's frontage property.

"I can't see any downside to opening this up," said Doug Treadway, Ohlone president.

The college envisions a housing and retail center along 22 acres of Mission Boulevard, between Pine and Anza streets.

The center likely would include a high-end grocery store, such as Whole Foods or Andronico's, and a bookstore, Treadway said. Other possibilities include putting in apartments or senior housing, a fitness studio, a music store and a banquet hall.

Talks began more than a decade ago, although the board did not discuss in earnest what to do with the land until about five years ago.

Just when it appeared the college was close to reaching an agreement with the Silicon Valley-based Sobrato Development Cos., talks unraveled this year because the parties could not reach consensus on the number of housing units to be built, leasing and revenue-sharing terms and other aspects of the arrangement.

Talks ended amicably, and the college has not ruled out working with Sobrato in the future, Treadway said.

For now, the college will call for bids from any interested developer, pending board approval of a "request for proposal."

Trustees this week had the option of having the college again attempt to work with one developer—in this case, The Ohlone Team, a group of three developers that was the board's next choice when it first decided to work with Sobrato.

The college also could take on the role of developer itself or accept bids from other developers to see what they're offering.

Had trustees chosen to sign a nonbinding letter of intent to work with The Ohlone Team, the college, by law, still would have had to allow other bidders to submit proposals before the board could take a vote.

"So rather than try to go through the same process (as last time) with another developer, the decision was to skip that step and to go to the bid," Trustee Bill McMillin said.

Others on the board also viewed going straight to the bid process as a step forward for the project overall.

"I wouldn't call (ending negotiations with Sobrato) a major setback," Trustee Garrett Yee said. "Things didn't go back to square one. All the work that's been done up to now isn't all going to be used, but most of it will be as we go forward."

Contact staff writer Linh Tat at (510) 353-7010 or ltat@angnewspapers.com.

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