Livermore Council paves the way for downtown hotels

Livermore — The Livermore City Council paved the way for downtown hotel and parking projects after years of controversy and controversy by community groups opposed to hotels and exacerbated delays by the coronavirus pandemic.

With a unanimous vote this week, the council endorsed an agreement with Davis hotel developer Presidio Companies. ..

The council also lent about $ 2 million to developers to buy land near 2080 Railroad Ave. and approve it for valet parking after the hotel was built.

Some residents, including members of the Save Livermore Downtown group, have criticized the $ 71,521 sale price of the approximately 1.2-acre city-owned parcel as too low, opposed lending to developers, and hotel owners themselves. Insisted that the project should be funded.

Other residents, including leaders of some Livermore business organizations, favored loans and sales, saying the hotel would benefit the business and wine industry in downtown Livermore Valley.

Staff reports that the sale price of the city-owned parcel at 2205 Railroad Ave. Is fair as it adds some public interest to the city, including the hotel donating $ 30,000 a year to maintain the Stock Men’s Park. Claimed to be.

Hotel owners will also build and operate solid waste facilities for shared use in the downtown area, improve sidewalks and central lines in the area, and allow public access to the hotel’s planned roof deck. .. The developers will also rent the hotel parcels and future valet parking to the city for public parking until the hotel begins construction.

Mayor Mark Roberts said the $ 1,923,750 loan to Presidio also included 3.5% interest. This is the normal lower limit of interest on this type of loan, but overall a higher rate of return than many other city investments. According to city reports, Presidio will repay the loan and interest in one lump sum when the hotel opens.

A previously approved version of the hotel project included public underground parking, but the city reported that “the delay in construction of the project increased construction, operation, and maintenance costs, so it was the first. Has come to my mind for several years. ” in front.

Jean King, head of Save Livermore Downtown, said at a meeting on January 10 that the group did not oppose the hotel, but did oppose the loan.

“Hotels want ground parking instead of underground parking because they can save millions of dollars,” says King.

Another resident, Deborah McQueen, also opposed financing the parking lot. “Focusing on valet parking, it looks like the cart is in front of the horse. Presidio has to figure out their money and leave our money alone,” said resident Deborah. McQueen said.

Resident Richard Lyons also questioned the finances of the transaction.

“Weak developer entities seem to be seeking subsidies from the city at the expense of taxpayers,” he told the council.

Save Livermore Downtown, a group that has been called by other names in the past, includes Joan Seppala, the founder and publisher of the weekly regional newspaper The Independent, in its membership. Seppara is also an executive at the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, which oversees the Bankhead Theater next to the planned hotel site, and King is on the center’s board of directors.

The group has traditionally created multiple obstacles to hotel development and has challenged downtown city-wide plans. Under the name “Citizens of Livermore Central Park,” the group has collected sufficient signatures for the March 2020 referendum. This was called Major P and asked residents to vote on whether to promote Presidio as a future hotel developer.

The group tried to convince voters to arrange a deal by gathering hundreds of thousands of people, but residents upheld two-thirds of the hotel’s agreement.

The group also had a voting initiative to challenge the city’s downtown plan, which was slotted for the November 2020 vote, but withdrew the initiative in the summer of 2020.

The group also opposed the city’s four-story hotel plan in 2018 and collected sufficient signatures on the referendum, but the city tolerated it and adjusted the plan at that point. The council later approved an amendment to the downtown plan to re-permit the hotel’s four-story height limit.

Many of the people who attended the conference had problems with various efforts to stop the hotel project.

Save Livermore Downtown is “mostly … led and coordinated by Joan Seppala and Jean King,” said resident Alan Marling.

“Unfortunately, I’ve known from the past that what they say in the newspaper is unreliable,” he said.

Brandia Dington, head of operations for the Livermore Valley Wine Producers Association, said the hotel will increase Livermore’s reputation and support wineries.

“We have luxury stores. We have restaurants, retail stores, recreation and attractive downtown, but we don’t have a hotel yet,” she said.

The hotel design plan will be reviewed by the Planning Committee in March and by the Council in April. According to the development agreement, construction must begin by May 2024, and the hotel will open by December 2025, the city report said.

Resident Tracy Kronzak said the hotel would allow the city to expand its tax base.

“Proceedings, public proposals, and, frankly, disinformation presented as legitimate journalism that this has already experienced take away valuable time that allowed normal inflation, and unusual situations such as COVID are holistic. Increased costs, “Kronzak said.

“Make it sloppy.” Livermore Council paves the way for downtown hotels

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