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City Council grants exclusive negotiation rights to developer

on December 4, 2013

In a unanimous vote the Richmond City Council granted a real estate company the exclusive right to negotiate for the purchase of a water front property in Point Richmond during Tuesday night’s meeting.

The vote gives Suzhou Weibang Property Management, a Chinese company, and its U.S. partners 90 days to work out basic terms regarding the development of the 10 million dollar property at 1500 Dornan Drive.

The agreement does not constitute the approval of the project but it does secure the city a $500,000 non-refundable deposit. According to the negotiation agreement, the company proposes to develop mixed-use buildings, various recreational facilities and a 1.9-acre public park.

“I do feel strongly that the team is the right one that tries to look at completing interests and get us a really beautiful project in the future,” said council member Jim Rogers after hearing a presentation from Paul Menzies, the chief executive officer of Laconia Development LLC, a Walnut Creek developer that partner with Suzhou Weibang.

During the presentation, Menzies showed pictures of previous waterfront projects the company had done and gave updates on the meetings that the developer had had with Richmond communities over the past few months.

Menzies said they are committed to extending the San Francisco Bay Trail to the property and hiring local residents to work on the project.

The 13.8-acre property is located to the east of Ferry Point and west of the Richmond Yacht Club. The land was contaminated after being used as a port terminal for many years. The city halted the port operation in 1980s and conducted a clean up and soil remediation before putting it on the market for commercial development.

One company was set to develop the property but it backed off after recession hit in 2008. Since then, the city had been meeting with developers but they hadn’t found the “sufficient” one until this year.

During the meeting, some residents expressed concerns over the proposed project.

“I am pleased the area is going to be developed. But I am concerned whether it will be developed in a way that adheres to height limit,” said Margaret Jordan, president of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council. Jordan was also worried that the development would be denser than ideal, and that the project might not actually complete the Bay Trail.

Kevin Brown, another resident who spoke at the meeting supported the project.

“It would be nice to have some places for recreation,” Brown said.

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