Article - Office of College Advancement

Two developers bid to improve Ohlone property

Plans call for residential and commercial additions

By Todd R. Brown, Staff writer.

Sunday, December 16, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—The two bids submitted to develop Ohlone College's frontage property are starkly different in terms of the revenue they pledge, although they offer similar plans for housing and retail on a strip of land along Mission Boulevard.

A proposal by Clark Realty Capital of Monterey would bring in $600,000 a year for the college, while a proposal by Aspen Group of San Jose dangles more than $1.5 million a year before the board of trustees, who meet Wednesday to consider both 60-year plans.

While one plan clearly offers more revenue for the college, Doug Treadway, Ohlone's president and superintendent, said that doesn't necessarily make it a shoe-in.

"The board has to feel reasonably secure that this deal will work, that the firm offering the higher amount can deliver on it, that it has a good, solid business plan," he said.

Tom Livelli, a development executive with Clark, said his firm chose not to bid as high as the competitor in order to be sensitive to the character of the historic Mission San Jose area and realistic for the retail market there.

"There's really good median income in that area, but there's just not a lot of density," he said.

The Clark bid—with backing by Steinberg Architects of San Jose and interest from Lehman Brothers investment firm—pitches 236 apartments and 88,000 square feet of retail. That would include a grocery store and a possible cafe, copy shop, bookstore, fitness center and fast-food joint. Thirty-seven housing units would be designated affordable, and funding for the project—about $95 million total—would include $2.4 million to build 1,000 parking spaces elsewhere on the Fremont campus.

The Aspen bid—with backing from Capstone Properties, a student-teacher housing group, and Fountainglen Properties, a senior housing group—suggests up to 250 mixed rental units and up to 200 senior units. It proposes a similar blend of retail but adds an 18,000-square-foot drug center.

Aesthetically, the Aspen plan proposes "prominent" entries at Anza Road to the north and Pine Street to the south. It is illustrated with a multitude of photos of mission-style stores that would complement the flavor of the neighborhood. The Clark plan centers on a plaza about midway between the two streets that connects mission-style apartment buildings to the north with retail shops to the south.

The idea is illustrated with a watercolor-style image showing people on a cafe patio near a fountain in the middle of the plaza, ringed by palm trees. Dozens of firms expressed interest in developing the frontage land, and Treadway previously said he expected more than the two bids made.

"There was a lot of interest, but the economy is struggling," he said Friday. "It might not be a time with much expansion going on."

A committee will meet Tuesday to interview the two firms contending for the job, according to Treadway and member Bob Tavares, a nearly 33-year resident of the neighborhood and part of the Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce.

"I don't know about the residential," he said. "The developers feel they have to piggyback everything with residential to try to support the commercial."

The Ohlone board meets to accept or reject the bids at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Child Development Center, Ohlone College, 43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont.

He said schools in the ritzy area already are overcrowded. Meanwhile, Fremont's school district also must accommodate students from two housing developments being built there.

Still, Tavares, a real estate broker and property manager, said he hopes the retail aspect of the frontage plan bears fruit.

"I think Mission San Jose needs a shot in the arm," he said.

The committee also comprises Ohlone Trustees Bill McMillin and Nick Nardolillo, an Ohlone teacher and three administrators, including Treadway.

McMillin said he was skeptical about the Clark plan.

"My feeling is that $600,000 (a year) is certainly not a reasonable return for the college," he said. "I'm not even sure the higher bid is a reasonable return."

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