Fremont studying designs, costs of building new City Hall

What are your thoughts about these preliminary ideas for a new City Hall that the city of Fremont is exploring?

FREMONT — Officials are exploring the idea of building a new Fremont City Hall, adding another element to ambitious plans to create a mixed-use district that they hope transforms a moribund 110-acre area into a regional destination.

Three weeks ago, staff employees and the five-member City Council toured City Halls in Redwood City, Mountain View, Cupertino and Milpitas to do some window shopping and compare notes on those cities’ civic centers.

“We looked at Redwood City and Mountain View to see how they merged their City Hall with active and successful downtowns,” said Jessica von Borck, Fremont’s urban initiatives manager.

Milpitas has one of the newest civic buildings, but Cupertino held special interest because its City Hall includes areas for the community, which is one of Fremont’s goals.

“We want to create a downtown that provides public spaces,” said von Borck. “We want to make part of our civic center area open to the public for events and art shows.”

The new City Hall would be built next to the old one, at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and State Street, where Fremont’s Family Resource Center is located.

Of course, ambitious proposals like these come loaded with an arsenal of questions, such as: How much will it cost? What would a new City Hall look like? How much will it cost? Where will the Family Resource Center go? And — one more time — how much will it cost?

The city is paying San Francisco-based Studios Architecture Associates about $150,000 to study those questions, and they are expected to deliver some answers by early next year, said von Borck.

“At that point, we’ll take a step back and identify how to move forward,” von Borck said. “We really don’t yet know the costs or how many buildings we’ll need. We’re in the data-gathering stage right now.”

Chris DeBenedetti


  1. Redwood City’s City Hall has been in its current location for as long as I can remember. It’s ALWAYS been at a central business place with lots of foot traffic nearby. The main library branch- while moved has always been a few feet away. The main post office is 1/2 a block away. Main Street and Broadway were ALWAYS the central business district for the entirety of Redwood City. Ditto similar statements about Mountain View. Here’s a clue kids – any re-re-do of City Hall isn’t a “plan” for, nor is it ever going to be any kind of, catalyst to a central downtown. If Bill, Anu and the rest of the gang want a new City Hall – no problems – but let the taxpayers know WHY they need it and what benefit the taxpayers will receive from newer digs. And – the “why” – as evidenced by BOTH Redwood City and Mountain View has nothing whatsoever to do with “creating” a downtown. . . . . In BOTH of the so-called study cases, “downtown” and City Hall were synonymous long, long ago. The “pedestrian friendly” pre-existed. Most importantly, the scale was (and still is) very different from what our city planners have allowed to devolve. Any “downtown” isn’t a result of where City Hall goes. The ingredients are far more diverse and, more importantly, the relationship between vehicular and pedestrian traffic is wildly different than anything we’ve got in our current mix.

  2. $150k? Really? I’m pretty sure I could tell them what they want to hear for a whole lot less than that…

  3. First – I’m surprised that this boondoggle is moving forward and, seemingly, under the radar of our local coverage. Me thinks you were scooped, Chris – either that or maybe this is just one of those topics our Council would like kept out of the limelight (?)

    Second – I’m surprised that Vinnie Bacon is a willing participant in a journey that has not yet put forth tangible goals beyond some rather vague statements like “…looking at a strategic plan to brand and market Fremont.” or ” to return with an understanding of needs they can meet in India.”

    So desperate are we to lend credibility to the journey that we are even making references to actions which have nothing whatsoever to do with the City of Fremont – – specifically – – – “.. A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed by a representative from Lawrence Berkeley Labs and Jaipur city ..” This is important to the taxpayers of Fremont . . . .HOW????

    Read for yourselves – it’s a boondoggle at best.


    Sadly, Vinnie is participating.

    I’m losing confidence that we have in this indivdiual something different than the status quo. . . .

  4. Bbox,

    I’m sorry you feel that way. I am who I am and I can say I didn’t misrepresent myself. I did investigate the red light camera issue with an open mind and came to a different conclusion than you and others. I also don’t see putting cameras on public streets as a huge invasion of one’s privacy.

    As for the India trip, I remember in 2008 when I ran against Bob Wieckowski and people criticized his trip to China. I thought about that and decided that I would not join in that criticism. Economic development is something that I believe Fremont should strive for, and something that doesn’t come for free.

    We have a staff of four people in our Economic Development department. They do great work. I’ve heard a number of business people argue that we should have even more. Much of what they do, such as general PR work, is hard to quantify in terms of tangible results (i.e. new businesses coming to Fremont or those simply staying in Fremont). Still, I feel they do important work that definitely benefits Fremont.

    The India trip is part of our economic development efforts. There are many businesses in Silicon Valley with joint operations in the US and India. I know as I’ve personally worked for two such firms. Some of the business leaders from Fremont coming on the trip run firms with a joint presence in the US and India. There are definitely businesses in India that are interested in creating offices in the US. I’ve heard that the Mayor of San Francisco is going on a similar trip to India soon after ours. Of course, having such a large Indian population gives us a natural advantage over many other cities in this regard.

    I’ve seen our schedule of where we’ll be going. It is a packed schedule meeting with a number of local businesses and groups similar to our Chamber of Commerce. City staff has also worked to get a lot of press to these events. It is considered a big deal to them that a delegation from the States is coming to visit and talk about business opportunities here in the US.

    In short, I feel that Fremont needs to think big in terms of getting business. That will require some spending some money on outreach efforts such as this. I don’t think this expenditure is out of line.

  5. I hope you didn’t infer from my words that you somehow misrepresented yourself. I dont feel that way.

    I *do* feel that you made good use of data and critical thinking in your campaigning. Certainly, your position on the stadium debacle is the clearest example, but, there are others. And, this kind of critical thinking stood in stark contrast to the kinds of anecdotal nonesense that was and istill s a staple of Sue, Bill and Anu.

    Conversely, your discussion of RLC’s was filled with considerable opinion and anecdote and never addressed volumes of data from INDEPENDENT sources. Similarly, the decision to venture to India on the taxpayer nickle is full of fluff and short on specifics.

    So, my disappointment is steeped in the perception that you’ve somehow turned your back on critical thinking and opted, instead, to join the commodity ranks of the politically expedient. I hope I’m wrong.

    Re the trip – If you can provide references of ANY record of our previous two trips AND THE RESULTS we realized from same . . . I am all ears. If not – I stand by my observation that this most recent trip is just another one in a series of useless boondoggles. The difference is that, this time, Vinnie Bacon will be an active participant and supporter.
    P.S. – huge kudos simply for engaging your constituency in this venue. The others clearly dont have the courage to do so.

  6. Charlie, please stop the ad hominem attacks on one person. You’ve made your opinion known about the Fremont ballpark plan that the A’s dropped nearly 5 years ago. One person did not make the ballpark issue go away for Fremont. That issue is over. There are plenty of others issues to discuss. Please do so. So again, please consider this a warning. Charlie, if you continue to post the same attack on one person, the next post like that will be deleted. If you post it again after that, I’ll suspend you from the blog. Etc., etc.

    I don’t want to do that. But I will. The good news is: We don’t have to go down that road. I look forward to seeing a different kind of post from you in the future. Thanks.

  7. Hey – Chris D and Matt A – nice article on the India boondoggle this morning. A simple cut and paste (whatdya think – another minute and a half out of your busy day?) into THIS VENUE would ensure that dialogue and commentary by constituency could continue under a proper heading.

    Of course, doing so creates that potentially uncomfortable situation where constituency can organize their commentary about this action . . . could spell trouble. Better to let them ramble on under unrelated topics.


    BTW – Nice job helping Anu and Vinnie get the “goals” stated a bit more succinctly. Seems like the dialogue of recent days is encouraging at least a modicum of thought in the direction of what our stated goals are. Yours was the most cogent of several re-re-statements of our “purpose” .

    BTW – other voices have been weighing in and, for whatever reasons choose to do so outside of this venue –


    As a reminder, here was the proposition presented to our city the for one of our previous junkets –


    What did we receive in return for from this previous investment?

  8. Wieckowski was willing to support what you erroneously call *the stadium debacle*… because a good representatives does what’s best for all the people, not just the squeaky wheels. Fremont has missed out on economic bonanza and you know it!

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