DEVELOPERS DELAY BUILDING OF SAN LEANDRO CROSSINGS PROJECT; CITE ECONOMYBy STEVEN TAVARES
SAN LEANDROThe three parties partnered with the city of San Leandro to build the mixed use, transit-orient San Leandro Crossings housing development are delaying plans to build the initial $110 million phase of the project.
City Manager Stephen Hollister said Monday night all sides partnered with the housing development to be located directly behind the San Leandro BART station had voiced concern over uncertainties in the current housing market along with the state entity involved with the project missing a deadline to procure grant funds.
"The City has been working diligently with all parties--Westlake, BRIDGE and Housing and Community Development--and will continue to do so," Hollister said in a statement read to the council. "We are hopeful that we can proceed with the project in such a manner that will satifsy HCD requirements and the needs of the developers and the City."
According to sources familiar with the deal, the HCD had recently demanded a guarantee for their $10 million investment for the first phase of low-income housing units. Westlake assured the HCD only a portion of the $10 million would be guaranteed in the first year of construction. Westlake, according to sources, also sought changes to parking at the development, opting for surface parking over the previously planned parking garage. Westlake also indicated a desire to lower the development's building standards from that of condominiums to rental.
The city and BRIDGE was asked to cover the remaining portion of HCD's investment, but the council apparently balked at such a deal, according to sources and, late last week, BRIDGE threatened to pull out of the entire project because of the uncertainty over the HCD's delays in receiving grant funds and their subsequent proposal that hoped to defray their risk.
"BRIDGE was unable to conitnue without the assurance that the HCD documents would be executed in time to meet the requirements of their lenders and the tax credit deadline," said Hollister. Afterwards Hollister said he was "optimistic" the project will eventually move forward despite the delay, although he said, "We're disappointed with the delay, but I can say everyone is now working towards getting this done."
The San Leandro Crossing development is prime part of the city's transit-oriented strategy hoping to transform its downtown area to a more walkable experience featuring dining, shopping and recreation options. Phase 1 of the two-year old Crossings project, located on the open patch of land behind the BART station, includes a mix of 300 multi-family market rate rentals and affordable housing built to condo standards. The plan also called for a multi-story parking garage to replace those lost to riders of BART.
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