Tuesday Showdown At City Hall
After months of cancellations, the council is finally ready Tuesday night to vote Bay Street mall developer Madison Marquette exclusive development rights to one of the most valuable pieces of real estate left in Emeryville. The Washington DC based developer Madison Marquette wants more time to consider whether to develop a piece of empty land, cleared by the city north of the existing Bay Street mall along Shellmound Street. The vote would grant the developer another two years of exclusive rights added to the five years previously granted by the city, shutting out any other developers from making proposals for the parcel of fallow land.
Possible Increased Funding Of Schools Rebuffed
Other developers have expressed interest in the site and at least one, Federal Development LLC has indicated it would enter into negotiations directly with residents to provide community benefits such as increased funding for the schools and providing funds for building family friendly housing and local hiring agreements. Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE) has called on the city to negotiate better funding for the schools with developers but the 2001 deal struck between the city and Madison Marquette for the existing Bay Street mall is minimal in terms of community benefit, including school funding, RULE members say. So far the council has rebuffed all overtures from other developers regardless of commitments of more funding for the schools than Madison Marquette has been willing to provide.
The seven years continuing exclusive rights to this one developer represents a taxpayer subsidy by denying the city receipts from a developed property. This subsidy is added to the $50 million the city already extended to Madison Marquette for the existing mall.
For its part, Madison Marquette has said it needs more time to figure out if or how it wants to develop the land because of the recession. Residents have complained that this seems a convenient argument since the economy was in much better shape before the recession and Madison Marquette still was granted exclusive rights and still wouldn't decide. Madison Marquette it seems is content with keeping this valuable property in their vest pocket as long as the people of Emeryville will allow them.
If granted, Tuesday's exclusive negotiating agreement hand-out would be the longest exclusive rights deal given to any developer in Emeryville history.