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Matier and Ross on Forest City

OAFC BBS - All Topics: Archive: Matier and Ross on Forest City
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By ronc on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 11:11 am:

The iron hand of Jerry Brown came down hard in Oakland this past week for what some are calling a sweetheart housing deal that could soak up $51 million in city money and squelch any hope for a downtown ballpark.

We're talking about Tuesday night's closed-door City Council session where Mayor Brown -- with the help of council President Ignacio De La Fuente -- corralled the five votes needed to re-enter negotiations with developer Forest City Enterprises to build a gated, 807-unit apartment complex next to the Sears department store, between Telegraph and San Pablo avenues.

It's the same site where ballpark advocates were hoping to build a new home for the Oakland A's.

But in Brown's eyes, it was "now or never" time for his dream to bring 10, 000 people into the downtown, and "I want to get the ball rolling."

And roll he did -- although some say it was more like steam rolling.

"He made it clear that there was not to be any discussion from staff or anyone else about anything but Forest City," said one attendee.

"Although I did notice that there were some sharp words between Jerry and (City Manager) Robert Bobb as they went into the meeting," our source said.

That's because Bobb, who is one of the biggest backers of the stadium, has been pushing a plan to accommodate both projects. The mayor didn't want to hear it.

And Brown's damn-the-torpedoes attitude extends to questions about the Forest City deal itself -- even questions raised in a confidential evaluation of the plan that city staffers prepared with the help of outside consultants.

For example, ballpark aside, the memo says the Forest City complex is going to need $51 million in subsidies -- or about $60,000 per unit. City sources say that could soak up Oakland's downtown redevelopment funds for the next 15 years.

What's more, as it stands, the proposal guarantees Forest City a 12 percent rate of return, when the usual is 9 percent.

And the report says Forest City's construction estimates appear to be "at the low end of the industry standard range."

In other words, said one city official, they may wind up being "cheaply built."

The project also lacks any open space to speak of. The "proposed parks are leftover spaces, which are actually just light and air corridors between buildings," the report says.

Put it all together and you have a city staff concluding that "these units may not be desirable living spaces for the long term."

A very charged-up Brown dismissed the report as "loaded" and a "piece of s-- " put together by "people who just don't like this project."

As for the conclusion that the work may be cheap?

"We were the ones who told them to drop the construction costs," Brown says.

And the subsidies?

"Look, we know it's going to be expensive and it's going to take money, but this is the only group that has taken any interest in that site."

As usual with this kind of deal, a certain amount of connections are involved. Take Forest City's San Francisco lobbyist, Natalie Berg, who tossed a fund-raiser for Brown in his last election.

"That's just a bunch of crap -- pure crap," Brown said. "If you want a piece of dead dirt there for the next 10 years, then kill the project."

When it comes to the idea that politics is at work, Brown summons up a phrase that usually makes his city wince: "There is no there there."

The next stop for the deal is a public hearing before the City Council -- where Brown says "everything will be open for negotiation."

Maybe, but as they say, the train looks like it's already out of the station.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By diamond_lil on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 11:34 am:

Yes, that article by Matier and Ross really tells it the way things happened in that closed session ordered and promoted by Jerry Brown.

But as long as the A's owners don't show any interest in making a deal in that piece of land for a ballpark, how can anybody argue with Jerry Brown that the ballpark and the housing could be incorporated and help each other.

What is sad and really a killer is the exclusive negotiating rights given to Forrest City right at the time when Robert Bobb and his ballpark committee where going to present their final package and financial plan. The ballpark committee were not even given the opportunity to make their final pitch and presentation. The Mayor didn't even want to see it or hear it...

It was as if the Mayor felt the need to derail any possible change of heart from the A's owners after seeing the possibilities and great viability of the project.

The Mayor wants to build a gated ghetto downtown Oakland. Gook housing in an area where nobody wants to even pass by because it is so desolate. What will be the attraction? A Safeway?

The Public hearing and final vote on the housing project will take place July 23rd. We will try to push for a window of negotiations of at least 60 days prior to the 12 month period of exclusive negotiation agreement (ENA).

But the A's owners have to be willing to show they will put 150 million into the building of the ballpark.

If they don't want to do that...then gosh darn it...sell the team to who will do it...

But for that Selig has to stop nixing any bids that surface...

Get the drift of how many 'ifs' and questions marks along the way?

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By eyleenn on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 01:34 pm:

I posted the M&R article in another thread before reading this one. Sorry.

Jerry Brown and IDLF are peas in a pod -- egotistical POS who only have their own agenda in mind and believe they know best for everyone. Brown made bringing 10,000 residents to downtown the centerpiece of his mayoral campaign and this was his last best chance to make sure it gets done, so screw anything else even if it would be more beneficial to the City.

Disgusting power play.

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