Oakland Council Selects Developer to Begin Exclusive Negotiations on Construction of Coliseum Site


Oakland City Council decided on Tuesday to begin negotiating exclusively with a group of developers that includes an East Oakland native and a former city manager to buy or lease the city’s share on the Coliseum site – moving the plan transformation of the East Oakland area a little closer to realization.

But the decision came after protests from city staff, who warned that the two groups pursuing the site lacked experience in developing a project of such magnitude. City employees have asked council to postpone the vote until January so they can have more time to analyze the financial plans and partners of each of the two development groups vying to build the 155-acre site. .

But the council voted unanimously to choose the African American Sports and Entertainment Group, saying the vote only asks the city to negotiate financial terms and a development agreement exclusively with AASEG. A final development agreement is yet to be submitted to the board for a vote.

The vote engages the city in exclusive negotiations with AASEG for 18 months and requires the developer to pay the city a fee of $ 200,000 per year and $ 2.5 million in one-time funds to cover staff time.

“I’m so happy right now,” said Ray Bobbitt, an East Oakland native who runs AASEG. “I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to really revitalize East Oakland. This is where I grew up. This is where my family lives. This is where I go to church. To be able to make a contribution of this magnitude is simply overwhelming. “

On Tuesday, most board members applauded AASEG’s community outreach and said a strong set of community benefits and affordable housing would be needed in the final deal. Council member Treva Reid, who represents the area that includes the Colosseum, urged the group to continue working with community members and residents as they come to a final agreement.

The AASEG includes Bobbitt, former CEO Robert Bobb and developer Alan Dones. The competing group, which was not selected, includes former A pitcher Dave Stewart and Lonnie Murray, the first and only black woman to be certified as a players’ agent by the MLB.

The two groups have come up with ambitious plans for the site of the Coliseum, Oakland’s largest public land. Both proposals aim to boost economic opportunities and could fundamentally change the region, which has long suffered from a lack of investment.

The other half of the Coliseum site is owned by Oakland A, so any project would require a partnership with the baseball team. The Colosseum site could generate much-needed tax revenue, but the exorbitant cost of building infrastructure there means it will be difficult to expand.

Any potential sale of the site is critical in determining the future of the Coliseum, which houses the As’s until their lease expires in 2024. In 2019, the As’s purchased half of the Alameda County Coliseum site and said at the time that they wanted to build homes, offices, businesses and parks there. The A’s are currently negotiating with the city to build a new baseball stadium and surrounding development at Howard Terminal.

In July, city council voted to continue dual track negotiations with AASEG and the Stewart and Murray groups, but asked city staff to prioritize negotiations with AASEG because of the efforts. group to engage residents by holding town halls, speaking to schools, and working with community organizations. to develop its proposal.

The AASEG, which offered the city $ 115 million, wants to redevelop the Coliseum site, bring a WNBA team to Oakland, build housing, and create a cultural center celebrating black culture. Stewart and Murray have offered $ 115 million to buy the town’s share and want to build a thriving center focused on youth and amateur sports, Oakland culture and job creation.

But city staff said in a report that they are still analyzing both proposals and questioned whether either group is in a position to fully realize their vision.

“Although both teams have recently expanded their development team, the initial staff review suggests that the teams did not show strong evidence of extensive experience in building comparable real estate projects on a large scale and in multiple phases similar in size, scale and cost to what is being envisioned for the Colosseum complex, ”according to the staff report.

City staff said the two groups had submitted more details about their funding partners, but staff were unable to complete analysis of those details and urged the council to postpone decisions until. in January.

Additionally, Oakland has yet to receive written confirmation from the state of the city’s compliance with the Surplus Land Act. State law requires that surplus state-owned land be considered affordable housing before the land is sold or leased.

The state is currently investigating Alameda County for the sale of its share of the Colosseum to the A’s, alleging that the county did not follow the Surplus Land Law.

Despite the city’s reservations about launching an exclusive negotiating deal with either group, dozens of people spoke out on Tuesday during public comments in support of the AASEG’s proposal.

“I was born in East Oakland in 1974,” said John Jones, who said he was working with AASEG on his proposal. “In my part of town, we haven’t seen development, we’ve seen a loss of institutions that serve young people, serve the elderly and overall contribute to a better quality of life. This proposal responds to that and much more.

Sarah Ravani is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: sravani@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @SarRavani

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