OAKLEY -- A developer that specializes in child care centers moved another step forward in his plans to build one here.
The Oakley City Council on Tuesday approved a purchase agreement with Seeker Development, a San Diego-area company that bid $700,000 on a 1.1-acre parcel near Diamond Hills Sports Club and Spa in the Neroly Road commercial center.
The council also signed off on a grant agreement that will allow the use of $925,000 the city has collected in developer fees to build the 10,000-square-foot facility.
The fees are intended to offset the effect of residential construction.
The child care center will accommodate 180 children, and whichever child care provider the developer contracts to run the facility must give Oakley residents priority. That third-party provider also must give a 33 percent discount on fees to at least 10 percent of the center's lower-income families.
The agreements include some safeguards in an effort to avoid unwelcome surprises as the $2.3 million project gets underway.
Craig Davidson, the owner of Seeker Development, has agreed to guarantee that he will finish the project by pledging all his personal assets, and the city will determine that they aren't already spoken for before giving him the $925,000.
In addition, his company must repay the money if the child care center doesn't remain in continuous operation for five years.
"I just don't want to repeat a past mistake," said Vice Mayor Randy Pope, alluding to the $1.8 million in loans that the city gave Carpaccio Ristorante while its owner was in bankruptcy and saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in liens for failing to pay taxes.
"We wouldn't issue any funds until we were satisfied," responded City Attorney Bill Galstan.
However, the city manager and finance director voiced reservations about being able to offer ironclad assurances that the city would identify every single red flag the builder's financial history might raise.
The staff report points out that the builder has a proven track record with 21 child care centers to his name, and also notes that the developer fees the firm is getting came from other construction companies, not taxpayers.
The facility is expected to have at least 10 employees and generate roughly $23,000 per year in property taxes to local agencies.
Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.