Santa Clara Gets Mega-Complex Pitch

The new complex would be five times the size of Santana Row

By Stephanie Chuang
|  Tuesday, Apr 9, 2013  |  Updated 8:02 PM PDT
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The new 49ers stadium put the city of Santa Clara on the minds of a development group that wants to build something five times the size of Santana Row in the shadow of where the 49ers play. Stephanie Chuang reports.

The new 49ers stadium put the city of Santa Clara on the minds of a development group that wants to build something five times the size of Santana Row in the shadow of where the 49ers play. Stephanie Chuang reports.

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The new 49ers stadium may not be the only new building changing the landscape in Santa Clara – the city council is considering an exclusive negotiation agreement with Related, a global developer of residential and commercial properties, which would potentially lead to the development of 230 acres into an entertainment district of sorts.

The idea would be to build a development similar to San Jose’s Santana Row, only the Santa Clara development would be roughly five times the size at 230 acres.

From restaurants to retail, hotels to high-density living, this new development would require the removal or relocation of two Santa Clara favorites: a BMX track leased by the city to the Santa Clara Police Activities League and the 36-year-old city-owned golf course. Ken Moore said he’s been golfing there since it opened in 1987, and now has conflicted feelings about the construction of the new stadium right across the street.

“We didn’t know while we were excited about that, that it was going to be the end of us,” said Moore, laughing. It doesn’t help that the 18-hole golf course is losing the city money, that’s according to Ruth Shikada, the city’s Economic Development Officer. “

It’s about 81,000 rounds of golf on an annual basis that when you take in all the expenses of running a golf course – running a project and then operating it – it’s about a two-million dollar loss on an annual basis.”

While city staff said there’s no figure yet on the cost of the project, Myron Von Raesfeld, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, gave a ball-park estimate of 3.5-billion dollars. Von Raesfeld, who said he has been a consultant for the 49ers in bringing them down to the South Bay, added that it’s more than just sales tax revenues that the city would get.

“There’s probably 40 million dollars in income or revenues that comes into the city just for them filing for permits.”

But there are some hurdles even if the city decides to move forward with Related.

The top problem?

City officials said much of that land sits on top of a landfill.

“It’s not so easy to build a building on top of a landfill that might settle or that you don’t know how stable the ground is,” said Shikada.

Pat Figueroa, former mayor of Mountain View, knows all about that struggle. She was mayor when the city decided to build the Shoreline Amphitheater on top of a landfill in the mid-80s.

Unforeseen problems began to plague the first concerts there: when people used their lighters, methane from the landfill would sometimes ignite small fires.

“For many years we had to continue to deal with methane problems, even after it was built and in use. Things still kept creeping up!”

Von Raesfeld, whose father was the city manager of Santa Clara for 25 years, said this is about realizing what his hometown can and has become.

“I think it’s going to be an attraction that a lot of people are going to look at and say, ‘Wow, this is really a great place to be and great city to be at.’ I think because of that, it’s going to be good for everybody, all the way around.”

If the city decides to enter the exclusive negotiation agreement, which could last from 18 to 30 months, Shikada said the city and developer will use the first five months to figure out if the project would even work – addressing issues like the landfill and access into the development site. If the project moves forward, planning and construction are expected to take at least several years. The 49ers and Joe Montana both released statements Monday in support of the development. Montana, himself, is hoping to build a luxury hotel across from the new stadium.

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