Article - Office of College Advancement

Trustees reject bids for frontage lease

By Wes Bowers.

Thursday, December 27, 2007—Reprinted from Fremont Bulletin.

The Ohlone Community College Board of Trustees rejected two bids to develop its frontage property along Mission Boulevard at its Dec. 19 meeting.

Two trustees who served on a subcommittee to consider bids said plans submitted on Dec. 12 did not meet the criteria that would best fit the college or the Mission San Jose area.

Instead, the college plans to reopen bids for the project early next year.

"Both bids were responsive, and both had different qualities provided to us," Ohlone College President Douglas Treadway told trustees Dec. 19. "Our consensus, however, was that neither of the bids fulfilled the overall quality of the complete project over the next 50 years we were seeking."

Treadway said 40 firms visited the college in recent months for walkthroughs, but that school officials only received the two bids on Dec. 12.

Ohlone College for years has mulled what to do with the vacant 19-acre parcel sited along Mission Boulevard in front of the campus. During a July 11 board meeting, trustees decided to lease the property for up to 60 years to a developer, making it possible to build a combination of residential and commercial uses.

The first proposal, from Monterey-based Clark Realty Capital, proposed 236 apartments and 88,000 square feet of retail space with a Mission-style theme.

Reports indicate that retail elements could have included a grocery store, a cafe, a copy shop, a bookstore, a fitness center and a fast food restaurant. Also, 37 of the 236 apartments units could have been designated off-price.

Additionally, 1,000 parking spaces would have been built elsewhere on campus.

The firm also pledged $600,000 a year in revenue generated for the college.

Aspen Group of San Jose pledged as much as $1.5 million in revenue generated from its proposed project.

Aspen Group said its Mission-style project would consist of 250 mixed rental units, as well as up to 200 units for senior citizens.

Retail space in the project would have been similar to Clark's proposal, but Aspen would have included an 18,000-square-foot drug store.

At the meeting, residents and Fremont Unified School District officials expressed concerns over developing the property.

"Our concern is that if you move in a direction that includes residential units, we want you to be aware of the fact that all the Mission San Jose area is impacted at the elementary, junior high and high school levels," Fremont Unified School District Facilities Director Therese Gain said.

Gain added that Fremont Board of Education recently voted that any new development in Mission San Jose with more than 10 housing units would have children reassigned to other areas in the city until space is available.

Resident Jack Roach urged the board to consider projects that kept the old Mission-style look of the neighborhood.

"Some of the development in the general neighborhood, in my mind, doesn't fit in with historical significance of what once existed here," he said. "If any development goes up, I'd like to see it fit in architecturally with what has been here in the past."

President Treadway worked with Ohlone teacher Mark Robbins and community member Robert Tavares, Ohlone Vice President of Administrative Services Mike Calegari, and trustees Nick Nardolillo and Bill McMillin, to come to the decision to reject the proposed projects.

"Both groups had nice architectural plans and a lot of interesting things," McMillin said. "But unfortunately they wouldn't meet what we were looking for in the concept for the next 60 years for the campus."

Nardolillo agreed.

"It wasn't an easy decision because we've been waiting to do this for quite some time," he said. "But we felt, based on all the factors involved, it just didn't meet all the criteria we were looking for."

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