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March 06, 2005
Deal near for cannery site
CITY COVETS LAND FOR POSSIBLE S.J. BASEBALL PARK
San Jose is closing in on a deal to acquire the former Del Monte cannery, which local baseball supporters say would be a prime location for a future major league ballpark.
The terms remain under wraps, but negotiators for the city indicated last week that they expect to bring a set of options to the city council later this month that would allow the city to take control of the 13.7-acre site on Auzerais Avenue from KB Home, which has been pursuing a 275-home development project on the property.
Three city officials, including a top aide to Mayor Ron Gonzales, have been meeting with the developer for two months to structure a deal that would exchange eight acres of city-owned land at North San Pedro and Julian streets for KB Home's option to buy the cannery. The price of KB's option, which expires in June, has not been disclosed.
Characterizing the talks to a city council committee last week, Paul Krutko, the city's economic development director and one of the negotiators, said, ``Those conversations have gone well in the sense of we have elements that seem to make sense for us to bring back something to you'' in a closed session within several weeks.
Major League Baseball officials have said repeatedly that they would not allow any team, including the Oakland A's, to move to San Jose because the San Francisco Giants have territorial control of Santa Clara County. But that hasn't stopped baseball boosters from pursuing the A's anyway, or Gonzales from declaring in a speech last month that he would send a proposal to baseball officials to attract a team.
City negotiators said they expect to have one more meeting with KB executives before taking the outline of a deal to the city council. The council then would have to decide whether it wants to try to complete a deal. To date, the council has held no public discussion about the merits of acquiring the Del Monte property, a move that would kill the housing proposal at a time the city has said adding new housing is a major priority.
KB's housing proposal is scheduled for a hearing before the planning commission Wednesday night. City officials say the planning process for the KB proposal will go forward, at least until the city acquires the land.
Councilman Ken Yeager, who represents the area that includes the cannery property and opposes its acquisition, said he wants the city to conduct a broad analysis of what would be the best location for a ballpark before buying Del Monte.
``We need a discussion with the neighborhood associations and some sort of analysis of the pros and cons of it as a site for a baseball stadium,'' he said.
Any sort of land swap between the city and KB would likely be a complex transaction. The city would need a source of funds to exercise the option to buy the cannery. That money could come in the form of a payment from KB for the San Pedro property.
The city also could give KB a back-door subsidy by agreeing to use taxpayer money to straighten out the S-curve on Julian Street, a responsibility that the city previously has said would be the responsibility of whatever developer took control of the San Pedro site. Removing the S-curve and restoring a normal street grid increases the developable area and also better links the property to the rest of downtown by improving pedestrian movement.
Posted by Coalition Webbies at March 6, 2005 04:21 PM