1/10/2011

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San Jose's redevelopment agency selling land to buy property needed for proposed MLB ballpark
By Tracy Seipel tseipel@mercurynews.com P oste d: 01/07/2011 09:25:55 P M P ST Update d: 01/08/2011 06:47:39 AM P ST

San Jose moved a step closer toward a proposed downtown ballpark Friday, when officials announced they will sell five city-owned parcels, using the proceeds to pay for land needed to complete the stadium plan. "This is a move forward to assure residents that the city is on track with baseball," said Harry Mavrogenes, chief of the San Jose Redevelopm ent Agency.

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The plan comes even as doubts about the agency's future continue to m ount, stats and video. following revelations last fall that plunging property tax assessments decimated the agency's budget. And last week, reports surfaced that Gov. Jerry Brown might eliminate all redevelopment agencies statewide to free up money More news on A's move for schools and other program s. Oakland City Council approves
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Said Mayor Chuck Reed: "A lot of people have been wondering how we're going to put together the transaction to do the land for a baseball stadium . I think this is an answer. And it's a message for Major League Baseball -- just in case they had any questions.'' In an interview with the Mercury News, Mavrogenes acknowledged that the governor's proposal to elim inate redevelopm ent agencies could throw a wrench in the city's plan to acquire the land for the ballpark.

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He and the mayor said Friday that the agency's land-sale plan has been in the works for at least a m onth. Reed added that the mem o about the plan was prepared in advance of a discussion he has been trying to have with MLB Comm issioner Bud Selig about "how we can finish the land deal.'' In Advertisement San Francisco Job Scam (EXPOSED)
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his two-page m emo Friday, Mavrogenes said the agency owns real estate assets worth an estim ated $220 million to $240 m illion, and that it has "received strong interest'' from a num ber of developers for those assets. But, he said, "rather than taking any offers from one person, we're organizing a process for several entities, because m ultiple interest will m aximize the revenues from these transactions.'' The assets being considered are all downtown and include the Fairm ont Hotel Annex retail area (McCormick & Schmick's seafood restaurant, Bijan Bakery and a vacant space to First Street); the Central Place parking lot (between South Second and South Third streets and East San Fernando Street and Central Place); the Fairm ont parking garage (under the Fairm ont Hotel); the Fountain Alley parking lot (South Second Street between East Santa Clara and East San Fernando streets); and the East Santa Clara Developm ent Site, across

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from City Hall. Mavrogenes said these five assets represent about 11 percent of the agency's total assets, or about $25 m illion. He said he believes that m ost sales will occur by June 30, and that all of the parcels will be closed on by year's end. The memo also says that should the proposed MLB stadium not com e to fruition for any reason, any sale of the site for other developm ent would require approval by the City Council, which acts as the agency's board of directors. Mavrogenes is referring to a com mittee -- appointed alm ost two years ago by Selig -- that is studying whether the Oakland A's can relocate to San Jose. The hurdle lies with the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, who hold baseball's territorial rights to the South Bay and have argued that the A's m ove would destroy their sponsorship and ticket revenues. The $461 million stadium project would be privately financed by the A's with help from investors and sponsors.

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San Jose's redevelopment agency selling …
The Redevelopm ent Agency already has spent about $24.4 m illion for little more than half the 14 acres earm arked for the project. Mavrogenes in October estimated the price tag for the last two privately owned parcels -- one of which is owned by AT&T, which sponsors the Giants -- would total around $20 million. On Friday, Mavrogenes said that price tag has dropped som ewhat after recent appraisals on the land have come in lower than they were last year. However, even if Selig were to give the A's the nod today, it would also take three-quarters of MLB owners to agree on the m atter. And before any public money can be spent on the project, San Jose voters would have to approve it. On Friday, A's owner Lew Wolff said the agency's land sale is "good news for us.'' "It's just another indication that the city of San Jose has continued to put all their ducks in a row to acquire the land if we are allowed to come there,'' Wolff said. "They are light-years ahead of any other place that might want to acquire land for this purpose.'' Added Michael Mulcahy, co-chairm an of Baseball San Jose, a booster group that has pledged to help fund any ballpark ballot initiative: "This is welcome news. ... San Jose is acting like the private sector and becoming very creative in how they operate.''
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408-275-0140.
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