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Council Gives Direction on Plaza Negotiation

Developer seeks 10-year agreement that could be extended another 10 years.

As city administrators exchange ideas with Broadway Plaza owners for a long-term development agreement, the City Council Tuesday night gave some direction to its negotiators. 

Macerich, owner of most of the 25-acre plaza, has listed more than a dozen potential downtown improvements it could finance as part of plans for "several million dollars" in payment to the city for the rights in a development agreement, including:

  • traffic claiming flashing crosswalks.
  • crosswalk treatments and improvements across from Broadway Plaza connection areas.
  • monuments and fountains.
  • public art program.

(For the full list, see attachment 9 of the city's staff report on the Broadway Plaza Long-Range Master Plan.)

Council member Kristina Lawson said the funding from the developers could go to a larger project, such as "seed funding" for a downtown plaza in the "traditional downtown" — across Mount Diablo Boulevard from Broadway Plaza. This would contribute to the goal of connecting Broadway Plaza to the traditional downtown, as emphasized by council members and members of the Planning Commission and Design Review Commission that reviewed Macerich proposals.

Macerich is seeking a 10-year development agreement with the city coupled with the option of two five-year extensions if the developer shows it is meeting goals to be defined in the agreement. For instance, an attorney representing Macerich, Cecily Barclay, told the council suggested that standard could be to grant the extension after 10 years if the developer showed the project was 80 percent underway.

Mayor Bob Simmons said he felt a 10 plus 5 plus 5 was too much. He said he favored a 15-year maximum. "Fifteen is more than ample for this," he said.

Macerich presented an alternative with all retail development and a second alternative with mixed retail and residential at Broadway Plaza. Either alternative would employ a new multi-level parking garage, much of it underground, in the middle of the plaza property, requiring the tearing up of the paved Broadway Plaza street that runs through the property now.

Simmons said the Macerich proposal did not spell out details about the residential alternative: "I have to be convinced that this has some merit and right now I don't see the merit. It makes it more complex. I don't know that it adds value."

Mayor Pro Tem Kish Rajan asked the developers to push ideas harder to effect the connectivity of the two downtowns, and synergistic ideas for traffic and parking for the next generation with less reliance on the automobile.

The current plan asks the city to formally vacate most of the Broadway Plaza street, amounting to 53,000 square feet.

Council member Gary Skrel said the street abandonment should extend all the way north to Mount Diablo Boulevard, adding another 17,000 square feet that should be used as green space.

Pete Johnson March 25, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Thanks, Michael I realize a downtown plaza is unlikely to happen but I like to keep picking away at it. And I know land is expensive so if anything happens it will be small and remote. During the Mt Diablo-Locust Specific Plan discussions I had written and spoken in support of using the city-owned parking lot beside La Fogata at Main and Mt Diablo as a park knowing full well the city would never do it. That would have been a nice connector between Broadway Plaza and the Traditional Downtown. Everything needs to be maximum square footage and built out to the corners of major intersections (e.g. Neiman Marcus) so visual connectivity is near impossible. I hope the city council figures something out on a downtown plaza but it may be well into the future. I still fantasize about closing a major downtown street and making it pedestrian.
michael frederick March 26, 2012 at 09:25 AM
Pete, I agree. For those whose WC appreciation transcends shopping and dining, it would've been a nice touch to retain the historic perspective of the 4 corners and La Fogata / The Sherbourne Bldg. It's about balance and those who promote ANYTHING aside from the incessant shopping mantra deserve a bone, once and awhile. I appreciate the need to make money but, it is sad. The problem, as you suggest, is that anything that is done requires long-term planning and once zoning or building privileges at a site have been granted, they are seldom (never) reversed. To do otherwise would only expose the city to expensive litigation. It's a one-way street, heavily biased in favor of those who like to build or, more importantly, make a living at building. This gets messy when one is looking for a site to not build, obviously. As to closing down a street, I reflect back upon a meeting about a decade ago involving the DBA, Skrel, and Abrams. The latter two were looking into a downtown parking policy, as I recall. Anyway, everyone had a good laugh when I mentioned closing off Main -- not a particularly useful thoroughfare, affording no parking garage access -- and running Clydedales down the street, or electric golf carts, or anything compatable with foot traffic. How ironic this is EXACTLY what Broadway is now proposing? It sounds better when Macerich says it? I think the city is on the right track with Commercial Lane and the development of paseos in the area.
WC-Independent March 26, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I've lived here since 1992 and never have a problem finding parking. I know my spots and enjoy walking. I don't need to park in front of the store I plan to transact business. Regarding line of site parking. That exists in suburban malls and Wal-Mart, places that have no charm. The holiday season is the exception but that applies to every shopping area.
WC-Independent March 26, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Ok, so let's build another parking garage that people will drive by when looking for street parking. Then they can still complain about parking issues. YUCK.
JKI October 25, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Now watch WC city council keep the possible incoming millions as under the radar as possible, to further the logic for a tax increase. Add it to the pot of "one-time funds" and reserves the city is sitting on. They recently made it "policy" to not use these funds for regular budget shortfalls... which coincidentally they have some responsibility for. How about considering a "new policy", one where the city considers their ability to draw from overall funds before reading us "The Sky is Falling" fable as a tax hike pre-cursor?

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