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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Alameda Retains Management Firm At Former Naval Station; Deals Blow To Tagami

Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore signs deed
of reconveyance last June giving the city
Alameda Point at no cost.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL//ALAMEDA POINT | Incumbency won over potential as the principal
property management firm of the past 11 years was chosen by the Alameda City Council to continue transforming Alameda Point from Naval ghost town to one of the region’s most exciting and lucrative development projects. The unanimous decision handed a setback to the losing bidder, Oakland-based developer Phil Tagami.

The winning bid by PM Realty Group beat out an attempt by Tagami’s California Capital & Investment Group (CCIG) to control leasing and property management duties at Alameda Point. CCIG is currently developing the nearby $1.2 billion Oakland Global project at the former Oakland Army Base, which broke ground last week.

Tagami’s bid at Alameda Point, in contrast, to CCIG’s work in Oakland did not include development--its strong suit--which the Alameda council found outside of the scope of the work description. Two council members, though, seemed to question whether Tagami’s real desire lies in the wealth of development opportunities at Alameda Point. Council members listed Tagami’s success in procuring large amounts of state grants and his company’s success in refurbishing downtrodden historic buildings in Oakland, but also referenced a conflict of interest clause included in a city staff report.

The passage, printed in boldface, reiterated the team winning the city bid would be treated as members of city staff. The arrangement also includes an adherence to state conflict of interest laws forbidding the property management team from enriching themselves with development contracts at Alameda Point. “The Management Services Contract will explicitly state this restriction,” said the staff report. When Councilmember Lena Tam referenced the clause to Tagami, he twice responded, “We respect and appreciate it.”

Later, Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft also broached the idea of Tagami using his development credentials at Alameda Point, in addition to also acting as property manager. “Don’t you want to develop our Point?” asked Ashcraft with a kind smile. Tagami said it was not the task at hand and “We want to respectful of the process.” However, both Ashcraft and Tam, along with Councilmember Tony Daysog urged Tagami to look, instead, at developing Alameda Point.

Although a city-appointed panel scored PM Realty’s bid higher than its competitor, it also rated its incumbency as a weakness. However, PM Realty’s near-perfect retention rate at Alameda Point allowed the council few negatives, or, at least, not enough to hand the contract to CCIG. The same panel was troubled by CCIG’s lack of property management experience. In addition, CCIG had preferred not to join PM Realty is splitting the bid, as urged by the panel. CCIG, though believed such a partnership would hinder efficiency. “This is the dream team,” Councilmember Stewart Chen said of PM Realty. “Maybe? Maybe not?” PM Realty's contract with the city is still to be negotiated, but is slated to be a one-year contract with options over the next three years.

Following no-cost reconveyance of the former air station from the Navy to the city earlier this year, much work remains to be done on the complex web of vacant properties, dilapidated naval buildings and future housing developments at the scenic bay lands. Getting the word out about Alameda Point's vast potential is also key. “We insiders know we have jewel at Alameda Point,” said Ashcraft. “But it’s kind of a well-kept secret.”

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