Developer presents new version of San Leandro Crossings project

It was a proud day four years ago when the city approved the plan for San Leandro Crossings California, its first large-scale venture into transit-oriented development, or “smart growth.”

It involved an initial 300 apartment units going up adjacent to the downtown BART station and was the result of years of planning and community involvement that included a 25-member citizens advisory panel that set a model for inclusive brainstorming in the future, said Vice Mayor Michael Gregory.

It had its detractors — particularly residents who didn’t like the sound of the 100 affordable housing units included in the plan. Early public meetings had some attendees booing presenters, but supporters also came forward, and the project was eventually unanimously approved by the City Council.

“It was successful beyond anyone’s dreams,” said Gregory, who represents the district surrounding the project site. “Everybody involved did superb work.”

But when the housing market tanked, San Leandro Crossings followed, and it was shelved in 2010.

Now it’s back in play, and, according to Gregory, if the previous plan was smart growth, the new version is “wicked smart growth.”

“This takes it to a whole new level,” he said.

The project still includes workforce housing across from the BART station at the corner of San Leandro Boulevard and Juana Street, but while the old plan called for the eventual construction of 700 homes, the new one is capped at the
200-unit Cornerstone project by Bridge Housing.

It will provide homes for people making 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income, or an annual salary of $19,650 to $39,300 for a one-person household. Half the units will be reserved for the top end of that scale, 10 percent at the bottom end, the remainder falling in between.

But the new vision includes another aspect of development near a transit hub: A three-building, 260,000-square-foot campus for OSIsoft, the San Leandro-based company that’s laying fiber-optic lines in a loop around town.

That would bring 1,300 employees to the area, and, according to Sunny Tong, managing director of one of the development partners, that translates to millions of dollars in sales each year to local shops.

Funding for the initial housing development comes in part from a $24.5 million state grant and a $9.1 million loan from the city’s redevelopment agency, both secured in the earlier plan.

City planner Tom Liao said the rest of the funding for Cornerstone — which he estimated at costing about $60 million — will come from federal and state tax credits related to low-income housing.

In all, it is estimated that $130 million will be invested at the site, a large part of it being OSIsoft’s complex.

The City Council is scheduled to review grants and agreements related to the project at its meetings on June 4 and June 18.

Mayor Stephen Cassidy has issued news releases praising the public-private partnership, and Councilman Jim Prola was at a community meeting last week to show his support.

“I liked version one, and it was supported by the whole City Council,” he said. “What I’d like to see is a more European-style city, where people walk and bicycle a lot more, smart growth, so people don’t have to commute two hours from suburbs to cities

“But I’m kind of happy that first version didn’t work out,” Prola said. “We came out with a much better project. And I’ll tell you, the first time around, we got a lot more negative letters.”


Article from Contra Costa Times