Nearly four years ago, Hayward-based retailer Mervyns filed for bankruptcy, liquidated all assets and closed its headquarters in Hayward. That space has remained empty since 2008 and the debate over what should be done with the property continues.
The most recent proposal, created by real estate development firm, Integral Communities, would redevelop the unoccupied 11.3 acre site for residential use, with around 430 dwelling units — a combination of for-sale town houses, rented luxury apartments and 30,000 square feet of ground level retail space — according to the Vice President of acquisitions for Integral Communities, Mark Butler.
“We see this as having a revitalizion impact on the downtown by bringing income earners with disposable income to help support the downtown,” said Butler. “We think that it’s going to generate a lot more activity in the downtown to support the retailers and restaurants.”
Kim Huggett, president and CEO of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce, agreed the proposal could help businesses in downtown Hayward by bringing in more people on a regular basis.
“We want people coming downtown,” said Huggett. “The more residents that we have wanting to come downtown to do things, the better.”
Hayward City Council member Mark Salinas also agreed more residents near downtown Hayward could be good for business.
“That could be an extra 1,000 people downtown,” said Salinas. “And what does that translate into in dollars and cents? Well, people buy stuff. People are gonna eat. People are gonna go to Buffalo Bills and throw back Tazmanian Devils.”
Salinas specified the proposal from Integral Communities is still in the early “idea stage” of planning and the councilmembers have not seen enough information to make an official decision yet.
“What I’m looking for is, is it balanced and is this gonna yield the city revenue,” said Salinas. “I mean, there are no guarantees. We could put a bunch of houses there, and they could not sell. Or we could put a big department store there and have nobody buy the product.”
While many support the idea of bringing in more residents to downtown Hayward, some residents who live close to the site have voiced their opposition to the current plans.
Al Parso, board member of the Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association, which represents the neighborhood next to the site, said the Integral Communities proposal does not align with the city of Hayward’s master plan for that neighborhood, which is currently zoned for commercial use with optional residential or office space upstairs.
“The reason you have a planning process with input from everybody is so that you come out with a plan that is the best compromise for everyone,” said Parso. “We have such a plan in place, but now they want to ignore it.”
Another problem with the current proposal, specified by Parso as well as fellow Prospect Hill board member Frank Goulart, is it does not include any open space or parks.
“There are no parks in the area,” said Parso. “There is no safe place for a kid to throw a baseball or do any kind of outdoor activities. I think it’s cruel to put kids in an area with no parks and playgrounds, no baseball fields, no nothing.”
“That whole area is impacted with a lack of parks,” said Goulart. “There are lots of kids around and there should be a reasonably good sized community park as part of the project.”
Integral Communities will be finalizing their development plans and hope to turn in the updated conditional use permit application in the next 30 days, according to Butler, who said the site could be occupied by some residents as soon as spring 2014
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 at 12:36 pm.