Dale Hardware wants to expand

Dale Hardware has submitted plans to expand its Centerville district store. I haven’t seen the proposal, but I’m told the butt of a new garden center would be located approximately where city leaders had hoped to build a new road connecting Fremont Boulevard and Post Street.

It appears the store doesn’t support the new road, which is a key part of the city’s plans to redevelop the nearby  6.6-acre vacant lot at Fremont Boulevard and Thornton Avenue.

The road, which is to cut accross the vacant lot and lead to the hardware store, is slated to have storefronts and housing — not the back end of a garden center.


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.


Center Theater Food and Film

The City Council will meet in private Tuesday to discuss the city’s potential purchase of the Center Theater and surrounding properties.
When the theater was last discussed earlier this month, supporters of a plan to turn it into a performing arts center that nurtures fledgling arts nonprofits made their pitch to the council. One thing going in their favor back then was that the alternative plan – a second run movie theater that serves dinner and drinks – no longer appeared viable in the Bay Area.

Similar establishments in Oakland and El Cerrito had just closed.

But now it looks like both theaters will reopen shortly. Several news stories about the Parkway and Cerrito theaters insinuate that their closings had more to do with their owners, not their business models. Click here for more.


Film and Food

Live from the Olympic Peninsula:

I don’t know if this story made the Argus, but the temporary demise of the Cerrito Theater does impact Fremont. El Cerrito’s redevelopment agency put a lot of money into rehabbing the theater and then signed a deal to with a company to operate it as a food and film venue — exactly what a consultant recommended Fremont do with the Center Theater..

But the operators of the El Cerrito went belly up, and now the theater is closed until the city can find a new operator.

Click here for more.


New plans for Centerville Redevelopment Project

On Tuesday, the City Council will be asked to provide a new agreement with Blake Hunt Ventures to build something on the long-vacant lot in Centerville. Blake Hunt first got the job by promising a supermarket.

That flopped, but now they’re back with a housing developer and a project with ground floor retail and apartments on top. Some of the apartments would be live work units, which I don’t think Fremont has a lot of. Anyway the neighbors have said they don’t want housing there, so I might be in for long night at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Here is the outline of the proposal from the staff report:

1. Approximately 35,000 square feet of rentable retail space on Fremont Boulevard;

2. Approximately 200 to 300 residential rental apartments and live-work units. The residential
units would wrap around two parking structures and along the proposed new private street
between Post Street and Fremont Boulevard. It should be noted that the developers would not
accept language requiring that the project be built to a condominium standard, explaining that
instead they typically build to “first class apartment standards,” which would include laminate
counters and floors, and electric appliances. In addition, there would not be individual water
heaters in each unit, (each building would have a centralized boiler system), and sound
attenuation finishes would not include extra layers on floors and ceilings. The developer
explained that such upgrades would be cost prohibitive.

3. A pedestrian-friendly new private street bisecting the property from Fremont Boulevard to Post
Street that aligns with the entry to the commercial use on the east side of Post Street (Dale
Hardware) and that provides both pedestrian and vehicular circulation elements and a focus for
project entry features and plazas.