By Roz Rogoff
Disposition of Mudd'sUploaded: Dec 3, 2012
The Oversight Board for the dissolution of the assets of the San Ramon Redevelopment Agency finally got around to considering what to do with the Mudd's Restaurant property. The 2.2 acre property is adjacent to the City's Crow Canyon Gardens Park.
In my opinion the building is an architectural and historical treasure and because it is next to a City Park it should be preserved in a way complementary to the park. Anyway that's what my campaign to save the building has been about since June of 2008 when I asked the City Council to buy the property to preserve it and keep it as part of Crow Canyon Gardens Park.
The City, er, the Redevelopment Agency, bought the property in November 2008. The RDA was a separate legal and financial entity from the City, but I thought the City bought it through the RDA because it could use RDA money to buy and restore it.
A year later the RDA received an offer from Oakland Restaurateur Michael LeBlanc to use the property for a new restaurant. The RDA liked the idea and arranged a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) with Mr. LeBlanc to lease him the land and contribute almost ½ a million dollars to tear the old building down for him. I was appalled that the RDA, who were the same people as our San Ramon City Council, would vote to do this. I've been fighting to save the Mudd's building from destruction ever since.
LeBlanc had to meet certain milestones in the DDA, which he did until the last one on February 28, 2012. That's when LeBlanc's financial plan was due to show how he would raise the $4.5M he needed to build his new restaurant and event center and fund its operation. On February 24, 2012, Mr. LeBlanc sent a letter to the RDA asking for a 90 day extension of this deadline.
In the meantime Governor Jerry Brown passed an emergency law shutting down all Redevelopment Agencies and transferring all of their assets to the State for disposition. Our City Council took over as the Successor Agency for the defunct Redevelopment Agency. This was not much of a leap since the City Council was also the RDA.
A new Oversight Board was also formed to make sure all of the RDA assets were accounted for and the State Office of Finance would accept the reports. Are you all still with me now?
After LeBlanc couldn't meet the financing deadline in February, the Successor Agency turned LeBlanc's request for a 90 day extension over to the Oversight Board. The OB finally got around to considering it on December 3, 2012, over nine months later
Mathew Larson from The Growing Room made an offer last May to purchase the property for use as an after school day care and Nature Center. The Oversight Board and Successor Agency are not in position to consider Larson's offer or any other options for the disposition of the Mudd's Property until the status of the DDA is resolved.
Greg Labadie, the attorney hired by the Oversight Board gave a report on the steps necessary to close out the DDA. LeBlanc's failure to submit satisfactory evidence of financing in a timely manner constitutes a default, allowing the Successor Agency to terminate the DDA if the default is not cured within 30 days after the date of a written demand by the Successor Agency.
Mary Lou Oliver asked Marc Fontes if LeBlanc is still interested in the property. Fontes said he spoke to LeBlanc a few months ago but so far LeBlanc has had nine months to submit something and hasn't. So it appears he probably won't continue trying to take over the property or at least not try to restore the DDA.
The Oversight Board voted for the Successor Agency to send a demand letter to Mr. LeBlanc. Mr. LeBlanc will have 30 days to respond. If he does not, the DDA will be officially dead and the Successor Agency can consider the purchase offer from The Growing Room.
Pat Boom is very skeptical about the State accepting Larson's offer because they would consider it too low. She said "We can try to do the right thing and the State will just send it back. It's an exercise in futility." I said at least it is worth a try.
So that's about where we are now and the ball is in LeBlanc's court for the next month and then we shall see where we can go from there.