City, developer negotiate for 215 acres

The acreage involved in the Stone Lock District project is shown in color at left. This photo is taken from the Sacramento side of the Sacramento River. Jefferson Blvd. is running from left to right near the middle of the picture, crossing the barge canal. To the left of the barge canal is Southport, to the right are central and northern West Sacramento. The project involves property both along the barge canal and the riverfront -- the biggest chunk is near the foreground, southeast of Stone Lock and next to the river. (From the city's project website)

March 9, 2011

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento’s 215-acre waterfront development deal with The Cordish Companies has been sitting on the back burner since the recession. But the deal may get a push this month, indirectly, because of those same financial hard times.

  Plans for the city and The Cordish Companies to form some kind of partnership to develop the property along the Sacramento River and West Sacramento barge canal stalled when the real estate market tanked. But now, Governor Brown has proposed eliminating local redevelopment agencies to help balance a troubled state budget. If that happens before the West Sacramento Redevelopment Agency has a deal in place with Cordish, it may lose a chance to make such a deal. The worst case, fear city officials, is that Brown could succeed in abolishing redevelopment agencies and West Sacramento’s could have to liquidate its assets – like these 215 acres – in a rush.

So staff and officials from Cordish are negotiating a purchase option agreement for the “Stone Lock District” acreage, hoping to put it on the March 23 city council agenda. They also hope that the redevelopment agency won’t have been constricted by the state before then.

“We’ve been in negotiations for several years with the Cordish Company,” said Jon Robinson, a redevelopment services manager for West Sacramento. “We’ve been in exclusive negotiations for at least a couple of years. This is the fruition of that development.”

The proposed agreement is still evolving. But it would basically call for the company to pay some amount of money in advance, for the option of buying the 215 acres at a later time.

The deal would have a time frame far enough out to allow development conditions to improve. And it would be flexible enough, somehow, to allow Cordish to come up with a new plan for developing the acreage.

An earlier development scheme is now viewed as unrealistic for the new economic conditions and no new plan has replaced it. But Robinson said certain things will probably be in the final plan for the Stone Lock District:

“You would see riverfront commercial, riverfront restaurants, lodging, trails, parks, and a whole mix of residential densities,” said Robinson. “We would be looking to Cordish to come up with innovative development ideas – all across the country, they’ve shown a real knack for doing this.”

Other urban Cordish projects include the development of Baltimore’s “Inner Harbor.”

Copyright News-Ledger 2011

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