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Developer gets frustrated with Fremont City Council

I wrote a short story in today’s paper about Fremont council members giving  Blake Hunt Ventures a third shot at developing the vacant city-owned lot at Thornton Avenue and Fremont Boulevard.

I didn’t have room to include anything of Brad Blake criticizing city council members for not having a consistent vision for the site:

Here is some of what he said:

One of the things I think this project has suffered from is there really isn’t clear direction from the city as far as what they want …

You tell us what you want and whether you want us and we’ll respond to that. And if you don’t want us to do the project … were happy to walk away and spend our time with cities that want us…

We’re happy to work with the staff on coming up up with various different project concepts but they need direction from you on what you want because I don’t think that’s clear right now.

It’s frustrating for us .. to sit here and effectively be what  I think is criticized…

Blake is right. The council has been divided on Centerville since I started covering it. Bob Wieckowski and Anu Natarajan both want high-density housing; Bill Harrison and Bob Wasserman would rather just have retail.

But what Blake didn’t say is that if the council actually agreed on what they wanted for the site, they would have jettisoned him back to Danville months ago.

Blake got a foothold in Centerville by being the only developer to promise a retail development — music to the ears of Harrison, Wasserman and former Councilman Steve Cho. But when Blake couldn’t deliver a supermarket, he did a 180 and proposed tall buildings with lots of housing and some retail, which is what Natarajan and Wieckowski wanted from the start and the others were willing to accept to end the embarrassment of failing to get anything done on the site.

If the council knew what it wanted, it would never have agreed to two polar opposite proposals from the same developer — neither of which panned out.

Now there isn’t much housing or retail planned, but at least it’ll be cheaper to build.

Matt Artz