HERCULES -- The developer that recently bought Hercules' ill-fated Market Hall retail site will host a community meeting Jan. 12 to introduce itself and solicit input.
Palo Alto-based McNellis Partners' primary focus is redeveloping shopping centers and retail and office buildings, according to its website. The site features 15 "Selected Projects" with illustrations, mostly in Palo Alto and the Sacramento area.
John McNellis, one of three principals of the firm, touted the 6.62-acre site at Sycamore and San Pablo avenues, near the interchange of Interstate 80 and Highway 4, as "a brilliant retail location" in an interview with this newspaper.
He did not get into details of what his firm envisions at the site, which served as a temporary and unsuccessful outdoor food court from spring 2010 to spring 2011. But he offered some specifics about what he believes would not work there: Residential use, for instance, would be "totally silly" so close to a busy freeway onramp, he said.
And there is no demand for office space there, he added. He also ruled out multistory structures and mixed-use development.
McNellis Partners recently bought Market Hall from Kennedy Funding Inc. of New Jersey, which had granted a $2.5 million mortgage loan in 2010 to the former developer of the site, Newport Beach-based The Red Barn Co. Red Barn had acquired the site from the city's redevelopment agency in 2009 for zero dollars, with a pledge of a share of future proceeds from the project and a promise to develop it to a density of at least 300,000 square feet, including 50,000 square feet of commercial space.
McNellis declined to say how much his firm paid for the Market Hall site. An official at the Contra Costa Assessor's Office said Monday no recent sale of the property had been recorded into its system, adding that the process usually takes about three to six weeks.
Red Barn had intended the defunct Market Hall as a temporary placeholder for the future Market Town, Phase I of a three-phase planned mixed-use Hercules New Town Center. The other two phases were dubbed Cinema Town and Transit Town.
By the time Market Hall shut down last year, the redevelopment agency-financed, $12 million primary project fund for Hercules New Town Center was depleted. A chunk of it -- almost $3.2 million in an 18-month period in 2009 and 2010 -- paid for travel, luxury hotel stays, supplies and other expenses racked up by Red Barn president Tom Weigel and other company principals.
Payments included a $20,000-a-month consulting fee to Weigel; about $280,000 in consulting fees to ACEC Consulting Inc. of Irvine, owned by a Red Barn principal, Jason Jazayeri; about $182,000 to Long Beach-based consultant Linda Peak; a $10,000-a-month retainer, plus two bonuses of $50,000 each to Red Barn's Charlotte, N.C.-based law firm, The TownField Group Inc.; and a $97,500 transaction fee to Kennedy Funding in connection with the $2.5 million mortgage, plus related legal costs.
The $12 million primary fund also had financed Red Barn's $1.6 million buyout of its erstwhile partner, the Surland Companies of Tracy, in 2006.
The Jan. 12 community meeting will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the Hercules Senior Center, next to Hercules City Hall, 111 Civic Drive.
What: Community meeting on future of Market Hall
When: 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 12
Where: Hercules Senior Center, 111 Civic Drive