California State University East Bay

New project proposed for empty Mervyn’s site

December 4, 2014

Hayward’s city council is considering yet another plan to develop the empty 11-acre lot on Foothill Boulevard where Mervyn’s headquarters once stood.

A preliminary review of the proposed project was presented last night to the city council to build new residential and commercial space at the site. Dollinger Properties, Retail West, Inc., and Johnson Lyman Architects presented potential plans for the development project.

The ground-level retail plan will encompass 66,000 square feet of the property and some of the proposed vendors are Whole Foods Market, Bed Bath & Beyond, Chipotle, Panera, and local start-up ice cream company, Smitten Ice Cream.

The site has been empty since 2008 when Mervyn’s, a retail department store chain, filed for bankruptcy and went out of business.

The 5-story residential living space will contain 545 apartment units with up to 150 designated parking stalls. Units will be one or two bedrooms with modern amenities on the property such as a tennis court, club room, pool, and fitness center.

The presentation emphasized the target demographic is a “quality tenant mix” and specifically in terms of residents “targeting millennials and lower to middle class…college students and faculty.”

A similar proposal was previously presented to the city council and they expressed that it needed improvement regarding the plan not being green enough and sustainable; this current proposal takes into account those concerns and addresses the issue of sustainability by complying with and meeting LEED-gold certification. Following the presentation, council members made comments and voiced concerns on the project proposal.

Councilmember Marvin Peixoto inquired further about the affordability for college students and wondered what the average price of a unit would be. Developers gave a rough estimate of $1,600 – $1,700 a month for a residential unit.

Councilmember Sara Lamnin is worried whether current local businesses will be affected by the construction of new retail stores.

“I’m concerned about the Safeway across the street,” said Lamnin. “I have deep concerns for the local businesses.”

Councilmember Francisco Zermeno touched on the potential grocers of the project and how it could attract more local and outside business to Hayward.

Renee Rettig, manager of The Book Shop in downtown Hayward and a part of the merchant’s association of Hayward, attended tonight’s council meeting and voiced how the developers this time around had a promising proposal.

“I came tonight mostly because of curiosity, and because the last proposal was lacking and not considering other merchants in the area,” said Rettig. “Questions from the council members had equal merit. I’ve worked 19 years in downtown, I drive down the Foothill corridor every day and Hayward deserves to be vibrant.”

City Manager Fran David emphasized that the project is still in the very early stages and that anything presented in Tuesday’s council meeting may or may not be included in the final project.

“This process does not constitute a project approval or denial,” said David. “There will be meetings with the community; there will be meetings before the planning commission. There will be more than enough opportunity for input.”

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