Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone College retail development back on the table

By Matthew Artz, Oakland Tribune.

Sunday, July 17, 2011—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—Ohlone College once again is considering options to develop retail shops on up to 20 acres of its Fremont campus fronting Mission Boulevard.

Trustees soon will study the prospects for leasing or selling at least a portion of the land after the school received multiple inquiries from developers.

Ohlone, several times in the past two decades, has debated developing the property to bolster revenue, which once again is sagging from recent state cuts.

Several years ago, the board couldn't muster the five votes needed to sell the property, nor could it come to terms on a long-term ground lease with a commercial developer.

On Wednesday, trustees received a report from consultant James Eller informing them that a developer looking to build a retail bank was particularly interested in purchasing or possibly leasing an undeveloped 1-acre parcel at the campus's northwest edge at Mission Boulevard and Witherly Lane—and that there was additional interest in building retail on other parcels.

"Developers have been aware of the site for awhile," he said. "More recently, there's been some inquiries whether the district was interested."

The trustees who opposed a land sale several years ago—Bob Brunton, Bill McMillin and John Weed—no longer are on the board, but at this point it's unclear whether the current board would have the votes to sell the land.

"My thoughts are we need to take a look at lease versus sell,
and impacts of any type on the traffic along Mission Boulevard," Greg Bonaccorsi, the board's acting chairman said after the meeting. Several other board members said they couldn't comment until learning more about their options at a future board workshop.

Board members Garrett Yee and Nick Nardolillo said Wednesday they supported reopening discussions on developing the site.

"If we had started developing this 10 to 12 years ago, we'd have a lot more money than we have now," Nardolillo said.

The parcels that could be leased for development run along Mission from Witherly to Anza-Pine Road. They include several old-growth olive trees as well as several parking lots that would have to be replaced elsewhere on the campus.

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