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Tim Talk: Planning Commission rejects AT Dublin proposal

 

Proponents of AT Dublin, the mixed-use lifestyle retail center on Tassajara Road, took a big step toward quelling potential opposition by cutting a key deal with the Dublin Unified School District.

It did not make a difference to the Dublin Planning Commission, which voted 4-0 this week to recommend the project be denied by the City Council.

The 76-acre parcel runs from Interstate 580 to Gleason Drive, bounded by Tassajara Road and Brannigan Drive. SCS Development has proposed amendments to the East Dublin Specific Plan and the city's General Plan to increase residential development to up to 680 units (apartments, townhomes and single-family homes) and cut commercial uses to 454,000 square feet.

The plans also include a 150-room hotel -- a facility that is sorely needed in the Livermore Valley where most hotels are full Monday to Thursday evenings. The existing plan calls for 261 dwelling units and 902,500 square feet of commercial.

The site is near where the school district plans to build its second comprehensive high school (and third overall) to initially house 1,000 students. The long-term plan is for a 2,500-student school. The district is negotiating to buy the Promenade parcel from developer Jim Tong.

The AT Dublin developers have agreed to pay $28.1 million upfront in school mitigation fees, about twice the amount required by the current $11 per square foot of residential fee. In addition, the agreement calls for expediting the payments -- one after receiving approval from the city and the other $14 million within 12 months. Typically, school impact fees are paid when individual building permits are pulled.

School trustees approved the agreement Oct. 23 without taking a position for or against the planned project. Should the City Council approve the proposal, then key funding for the high school is in place. The $28.1 million is in addition to the $100 million trustees have set aside from the bond issue voters passed in 2016.

Another linchpin is the land for a K-8 school that the city earmarked for the district at no cost in the Dublin Crossing project off Dublin Boulevard. One element of that project is a dual-use gymnasium that SCS has agreed to encourage the city to allocate $5 million of its public benefit payment. That city/school district agreement preserved the full $100 million potentially for the high school.

The district is facing student overcrowding at Dublin High, which currently has more than 3,000 students with another 1,300 estimated to attend over the next five years. The AT Dublin project, if approved as currently proposed, would generate about 5% of the high school students. The accelerated $28.1 million payment covers about 30% of the district's estimated construction costs.

This parcel had sat vacant for more than two decades as the former owner John Di Manto, CEO of San Jose Construction Co, waited for a developer to meet his price. He passed away two years ago, prompting his heirs to put the parcel on the market. The current proposal moved forward when the City Council a year ago approved studying changes to the city's plans.

During those years, the demand for traditional retail space has dropped significantly with most shopping center operators now focusing on the "lifestyle retail experience." That's the type of center that IKEA has proposed next to its store at Hacienda Drive and I-580 and is what SCS wants to build on AT Dublin. The key difference is 2-1/2 times more residential, where the demand is almost insatiable. City Center in San Ramon, which is scheduled to open Nov. 8, will be the first lifestyle center in the valley.

Tong's parcel, now designated for a high school, was supposed to be a downtown center surrounded by high-density residential. That concept did not fly in the marketplace, so he tried to increase residential zoning and was denied by the City Council. That denial preserved the parcel for the high school site, although it was not identified as such at the time.

After the Planning Commission's denial Tuesday, the plan will move on to the City Council for a final decision. There's likely to be public pressure against the residential elements based on the school overcrowding, but the SCS agreement with the district offers a direct mitigation to those complaints.

It's an expensive move by SCS, but it may be the linchpin that allows the project to win council approval. It's tentatively scheduled for Nov. 20. The council meetings after the Nov. 6 election will be critical ones with IKEA scheduled for Nov. 8 and now AT Dublin a couple of weeks later.

Editor's note: Journalist Tim Hunt has written columns on the Tri-Valley community for more than 40 years. He grew up in the valley and lives in Pleasanton. His "Tim Talk" blog appears twice a week at PleasantonWeekly.com.

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Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Bill C
a resident of Dublin
on Nov 1, 2018 at 12:48 pm

How is a deal when at best "mitigation" simply covers the cost of the incremental students? All elementary and middle schools are full, where will these kids go? The obvious answer is they will have to build the new proposed K-8 that is several miles away, leaving ZERO for high school. How did the author jump to erroneous conclusion that the $28M would be used for a high school? Did the come from the developer as it didn't come from the district.... Read the Q&A published by the district which is clear they haven't determined where to use the money, but the references to a gym at the K-8 and looking at the facts it is clear to any reasonable person that it will go the K-8 not the high school. Bad Deal for Dubliners.


7 people like this
Posted by Ramya R.
a resident of Dublin
on Nov 1, 2018 at 1:20 pm

I have the same comment as the previous person. When did DUSD say that the 28 million will go towards the second comprehensive high school? I request the author to correct the information as soon as possible in order to not mislead people and please get the facts correct before publishing these articles.
SCS Developers may think this is a smart move, but Dublin residents are tired of additional homes being built without the necessary infrastructure in place, so they will show up in hundreds to the city council meeting and let the members know why this is a bad idea.
Thank you Planning Commission.


7 people like this
Posted by Kerrie C
a resident of Dublin
on Nov 1, 2018 at 2:43 pm

You do not have correct information Mr. Hunt. Apprx 700 units that do not have to be approved will create the need for a new school in and of itself! There is not 28 million dollars from this to put towards a 2nd high school. The 28 million will not even cover the cost of future students generated from the approval of this project! This is basic math! Our current mayor was on the school board when Dublin was told we would NEVER go past 2700 students at Dublin High. We are not approaching 4000. The Planning Commission voted this down. The council must do the same. Have a vision for Dublin-it had potential. This is the last piece of land and can be a gateway, something with meaning.


6 people like this
Posted by Bill C
a resident of Dublin
on Nov 1, 2018 at 4:45 pm

I attempted to rewrite in more factual way. Planning Commission rejects AT Dublin proposal
Proponents of AT Dublin, which are seeking to rezone 78 acres from largely retail/commercial development to a largely high-density housing development on Tassajara Road, tried to quell local opposition to the project entering into an arrangement with the Dublin Unified School District.
It did not make a difference to the Dublin Planning Commission, which voted 4-0 this week to recommend the project be rejected by the City Council.
The 76-acre parcel runs from Interstate 580 to Gleason Drive, bounded by Tassajara Road and Brannigan Drive. SCS Development has proposed amendments to the East Dublin Specific Plan and the city's General Plan to substantial decrease commercial use in half from 902,500 square feet to 454,000 square feet and substantially increase residential development from no more than 261 to up to 680 units (apartments, townhomes and single-family homes).
The plans also include a 150-room hotel -- a facility that is sorely needed in the Livermore Valley where most hotels are full Monday to Thursday evenings.
The site is near where the school district is attempting to build its second comprehensive high school (and third overall) to initially house 1,000 students. The long-term plan is for a 2,500-student school. The district is negotiating to buy the Promenade parcel from developer Jim Tong.
The AT Dublin developers have agreed to pay $28.1 million in school mitigation fees, about twice the minimum required.
School trustees approved the agreement Oct. 23 without taking a position for or against the planned project. The school district has stated that they have not determined how the money will be used. One element of that agreement is a dual-use gymnasium at the Dublin Crossing project off Dublin Boulevard that SCS has agreed to encourage the city to allocate $5 million of its public benefit payment. Given that most the students generated by the project are at the K-8, and existing schools are at capacity the $2* million will likely be used to partially fund the K-8. Amy Miller the school board President, has commented on social media that approval of development will lead to boundary changes for existing elementary and high school.
The district is facing student overcrowding at Dublin High, which currently has more than 3,000 students with another 1,300 estimated to attend over the next five years. The AT Dublin project, if approved as currently proposed, would add further students..
This parcel had sat vacant for more than two decades as the former owner John Di Manto, CEO of San Jose Construction Co, waited for a developer to meet his price. He passed away two years ago, prompting his heirs to put the parcel on the market. The current proposal moved forward when the City Council a year ago approved studying changes to the city's plans.
During those years, the demand for traditional retail space has dropped significantly with most shopping center operators now focusing on the "lifestyle retail experience." That's the type of center that IKEA has proposed next to its store at Hacienda Drive and I-580 and is what SCS wants to build on AT Dublin. The key difference is 2-1/2 times more residential, where the demand is almost insatiable. City Center in San Ramon, which is scheduled to open Nov. 8, will be the first lifestyle center in the valley.
Tong's parcel, now targetted for a high school, was supposed to be a downtown center surrounded by high-density residential. That concept did not fly in the marketplace, so he tried to increase residential zoning and was denied by the City Council. That denial preserved the parcel for the high school site, although it was not identified as such at the time.
After the Planning Commission's denial Tuesday, the plan will move on to the City Council for a final decision. There's likely to be public pressure against the residential elements based on the school overcrowding, but while the SCS agreement attempts to mitigate the incremental impact from the project it does nothing to actually reduce overcrowding.
SCS the project to wins council approval. It's tentatively scheduled for Nov. 20. The council meetings after the Nov. 6 election will be critical ones with IKEA scheduled for Nov. 8 and now AT Dublin a couple of weeks later.


4 people like this
Posted by Lisa Y
a resident of Dublin
on Nov 2, 2018 at 7:44 am

I attended the Planning Commission meeting of which you write and this article is inaccurate. The comments made by citizens of Dublin did not overwhelmingly revolve around mitigation for our schools - citizens are concerned with the overabundance of market rate housing. They are upset because this is one of the last pieces of land in Dublin and it is zoned Commercial with a very small amount (261) homes planned for that land. The Developer somehow got the City Council to agree to study more homes on this property. At the PC meeting, it was crystal clear all the developer cared about was to pack as much housing as they possibly could. Developer has no vested rights - the land was purchased KNOWING the current zoning. That land is a gateway into Dublin. We do not need more stack and pack housing - especially in that area of Dublin. Dublin citizens want a walkable retail space that serves the community. Planning Commission got this right. And, it was a 4-0 vote. Their comments about why this proposal isn't right for Dublin were great. We need to slow down and not push through proposals - especially when there is a TON of housing included - especially when developers seek zoning changes.


1 person likes this
Posted by E. Castro
a resident of Dublin
on Nov 2, 2018 at 11:50 am

The same squeaky wheels everywhere.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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