Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone board to mull frontage property options

By Wes Bowers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008—Reprinted from Fremont Bulletin.

The Ohlone College Board of Trustees will discuss Wednesday night whether or not to keep moving forward with developing a 19-acre piece of frontage property.

The discussion comes after a workshop at the board's Jan. 9 meeting, where trustees pondered taking the time to look at other options for the site.

These options include rebidding the project to attract other developers, as well as revamping their contract requirements.

Ohlone President Douglas Treadway said one of the reasons only two firms submitted proposals was the mortgage rate the board placed inside the contract.

According to Treadway, the board asked for an 8 percent return as income generated for Ohlone, a figure many developers believed was too high.

"I think some developers felt they should be able to negotiate that figure," Treadway said.

Additionally, Treadway said state law governs what a college can request in mortgage returns. The law states colleges can only request "fair market value" and not a fixed figure.

"This is a 50- or 60-year project," Treadway said. "If we want to add in to the contract that the rate can be adjusted in the future, we're fine with that."

Treadway said 40 firms visited the school, but it only received two bids by a Dec. 12.

The school for years has been mulling what to do with the vacant 19-acre piece of land sited along Mission Boulevard in front of the campus.

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

Reports state the retail would have included a grocery store, and possibly a cafe, copy shop, bookstore, fitness center and fast food restaurant.

Reports also state that 37 of the 236 apartments units would have been designated affordable.

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

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

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

The 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.

Residents and Fremont Unified School District officials expressed concerns over developing the property.

Treadway is hoping on Wednesday that he can push the focus of the project home: that Ohlone is an older campus that needs several repairs, and the purpose of the project is to generate revenue for those repairs.

"From my vantage point, this is still a project of interest for those that came forward and many others," Treadway said. "If the board is willing to work with some of the feedback we received, I think we can still do this."

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