The owner of The Golden Skate recently announced the impending closure of the longstanding roller rink in San Ramon, all while the application for a proposed 47-unit townhouse project to redevelop the property proceeds through the city's planning review process.
Hassan Sharifi, who owns The Golden Skate business and its property on Hooper Drive, revealed he would soon be closing the roller rink in a public letter dated Oct. 17, which cites financial impacts due to closures earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic -- but makes no reference to the residential development plans being pursued for the site by a company with which Sharifi is apparently affiliated.
"I purchased The Golden Skate in August 1995 when it was on the verge of closing. It took me many years to revive the business," Sharifi wrote in the letter posted on The Golden Skate website. "Unfortunately, the enormous financial damages that we suffered due to COVID have made the continued operation of the Golden Skate infeasible and so it is with a great deal of sadness that I must announce that The Golden Skate will cease its operations."
Sharifi noted in the statement that he wasn't alone in closing such a business, with roller rinks throughout the Bay Area rapidly shutting their doors over the past decade.
Amid the trend, he noted that The Golden Skate had become all the more valuable for skaters throughout the Bay Area and Northern California at large -- and that makes the closure all the more of a blow to skaters from far and wide, as well as the local community, Sharifi acknowledged in the statement.
The Golden Skate ceased operations in March 2020 amid pandemic shutdowns and then reopened for about five months this year.
Meanwhile, a development application for the property came to the San Ramon Planning Commission at its Oct. 5 meeting. Following input from the commission, the applicants for the townhouse proposal -- Land Advisors Organization, a broker consultant firm -- returned to the commission on Nov. 2, where conditions of approval for the project were discussed. Commissioners opted to continue that discussion to another meeting next month.
Sharifi's Windflower Fields LLC, which was incorporated in 2007, is the property owner listed on the application for the 47-unit Windflower Fields Townhouses proposal that is currently before the Planning Commission.
Steven Spedowfski, San Ramon's deputy city manager, told DanvilleSanRamon.com this week that the townhouse proposal was "always meant to replace the rink, not build around it."
Spedowfski said he wasn't certain what Sharifi's relationship, as property owner, to the Windflower Fields Townhouses proposal would be. He also noted that the application process for Windflower Fields Townhouses has been proceeding through commission discussions as planned.
Sharifi had not responded to a request for comment as of Wednesday morning.
The property at 2701 Hooper Drive has been eyed for redevelopment since at least 2017, when a different company, Bay Area Property Developers, proposed a much larger, 200-plus unit housing project for the property. That proposal failed to garner approval from the Planning Commission, and housing density was ultimately reduced for that property under an amendment to the Crow Canyon Specific Plan.
Sharifi expressed his disappointment about the density reduction in a public comment during discussions in July 2020, months after the development proposed for his property first came to the commission that February.
"I don't see any rationale for doing what you're doing," Sharifi said in the commission's July 25, 2020 meeting, adding that the amendment "circumvents the state's law, the state's desire to add low-income housing to this area."
There has so far been no firm date announced for closure of The Golden Skate, but it is set to be open through the holiday season. The Planning Commission is set to resume discussions on the Windflower Fields Townhouses proposal at that property in a public meeting on Dec. 7.