Hayward planning commission approves further downtown development

Tishauna Carrell,
Staff Writer

The Hayward City Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 in favor of a proposal to construct a 144-room, three-story condominium building and a 93-room Marriott Inn hotel on Mission Boulevard, as well as a 2,775-square-foot urban farm on Berry Avenue. Council member Marvin Peixoto was the lone dissenting vote.

The project proposal was created by MLC Holdings Incorporated, who claims it will create 64 new permanent jobs within the hotel and generate more than $1.6 million to fund park and recreation facilities in the Hayward Area, according to MLC Holdings President Charles Mckeag.

MLC Holdings Inc. is a subsidiary of Meritage Homes Corporation (MRC), a publicly traded homebuilding company that focuses on the development and accession of urban infill residential and mixed-use projects.

“The project will occupy and bring new life to a large area that has been vacant for years,” Mckeag told The Pioneer. “The resulting economic and community vitality will improve the quality of life for existing residents.”

According to Mckeag, the Marriott Inn is intended to be an upscale hotel with rooms designed like apartments, and would be Hayward’s first extended-stay hotel, which typically have kitchens and serve people who need temporary housing.

“Hayward has an executive airport, a golf course…a university in our city, but we don’t have a first-class hotel,” Planning Commissioner Julius Willis Jr. told MLC Holdings consultant Chris Zaballos at an April 27 meeting. “A Marriott hotel would be a good thing.”

Over the past six months, MLC Holdings had numerous discussions with representatives of Cal State East Bay. On March 28, university officials met with MLC Holdings to discuss possible collaborations between the CSUEB Hospitality department and the Marriott Inn, according to Mckeag.

It would take “some years” for the collaboration to come into effect, according to Dr. Chris Chamberlain, Chair and Associate Professor of the CSUEB Hospitality Recreation & Tourism department. The collaboration would allow students to use the Marriott Inn as a “lab” that could provide experience for students to gain event and hotel management experience, Chamberlain said.

Morishita sent a letter of support for the proposal to Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday on April 18, saying the hotel could be a good option for parents and athletes who often have to stay in different cities due to the lack of hotel options in Hayward.

“In my personal opinion, having more hotels in Hayward would be good for opposing teams visiting and prospective students and parents who are trying to stay in Hayward for Welcome Day,” said Jose-Luis Rayas, athletics operations coordinator at CSUEB.

The Urban Garden which is to be located between the hotel and townhouses will be developed by Farmscape, an urban farming venture that would provide residents with organic produce. It would be maintained by Farmscape and the townhome residents during the first year, according to Co-owner of Farmscape, Lara Hermansen.

The garden would include 15 fruit trees and growing beds and is expected to produce a projected 1,200 to 1,800 pounds of food, according to MLC Holding Representatives at the meeting.

Hayward Planning Commissioner Dianne McDermott expressed concerns about the potential for theft at the garden, and concerns were also raised over the potential of increased traffic on Mission Blvd. 

“My only concern is I don’t see an improvement in the traffic mess.” Hayward business owner, Patrick Hendrix told Commissioners. “I have a business on Dollar St, and getting into Hayward, I’ve had employees just buried at the other end of town coming off of 580. The infrastructure for the traffic isn’t there, this looks like to me like it’s just a mess.”