HERCULES -- The city will wait up to seven weeks before making a final decision to go forward with selling the stalled Sycamore North housing and retail project or to look for new buyers.
The City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday, with Vice Mayor Sherry McCoy dissenting, to allow additional time for the developer to clear two remaining issues by or before the council's Jan. 28 meeting. The agreement also allows city staff to bring matters before council ahead of the Jan. 28 date if there are pertinent issues that arise.
Two weeks, ago the council gave San Francisco-based Presidio Development Partners time to decide whether the Sycamore North project, now dubbed Town Centrale, was still financially feasible for the developer even if another approximately $6 million is added to the total cost.
On Tuesday, the developers said yes.
"We're prepared to close provided the project remains financially feasible," said Mark Conroe, who spoke on behalf of the developer during Tuesday's council meeting.
Conroe said his development partners haven't done a full, formal fiscal analysis, but he said they will complete one if they get an adverse ruling that could add additional cost to the project.
At issue is a pending ruling on whether the project developer will have to pay prevailing union wages to complete the project. The ruling, which is expected any day from the Department of Industrial Relations in Sacramento, could add an additional $6 million to the total project cost if it's decided that union wages must be paid.
A second issue still to be resolved is an eminent domain lawsuit filed by the city against the Bayside Homeowners Association over an alley behind the residential-commercial property that the developer needs to complete the property. The issue is pending in Contra Costa Superior Court, and a determination on that suit is expected this month.
If the city cannot provide a clear title, with the remaining issues resolved, the overall selling price could be negatively affected if the city advertised the property to other buyers. It made sense to wait for the remaining issues to be resolved, said Councilman Dan Romero.
Sycamore North started out as a city project but stalled in 2011, when Hercules ran out of money with more than $35 million spent and an estimated $30 million needed to finish. The initial plan had been for 96 apartments, 74 of them affordable, over up to 40,000 square feet of retail space.
The current plan is for Presidio Development Partners to finish the project as an upscale, market-rate apartment complex with about 140 units over 10,000 square feet of ground-floor restaurants and stores.
Also during Tuesday's meeting, the council unanimously elected Myrna de Vera to serve as mayor, with McCoy as vice mayor, as part of the annual mayoral rotation.