Coliseum City Passes Early Benchmarks, Says Staff; One Investor Replaced

Rendering of Coliseum City upon its completion.

COLISEUM CITY | A short set of early deliverables for the Coliseum City stadium plan has been successfully executed, says a member of the Oakland city administration. However, the replacement of a partner in the master development team will delay some future benchmarks due next February another 30 days, said Oakland Assistant Administrator Fred Blackwell.

The Oakland City Council will approve later this month the removal of Forest City Real Estate, LLC from the Coliseum City investment group. Gregory Hunter, the deputy director of Oakland’s Office of Neighborhood Investment, said the group’s decision was not based on the profitability of the entire project. “We just need to be clear why Forest City withdrew,” said Hunter. “Most of their interest was on the retail, housing side.”

Hunter told the Oakland City Council Community and Economic Development Committee Tuesday, the early near-term timetable for the initial phase of Coliseum City focusing on the construction only of a football stadium and adjacent parking lot, did not suit Forest City’s interests. Future proposed phases of the plan containing components of retail, hotels and restaurants would not start until after 2018, at the earliest, according to early planning, and coinciding with the construction of a so-called “ballpark district” for the Oakland Athletics. “I don’t see the replacement of Forest City as an on-going concern,” Hunter said.

Forest City’s departure, though, throws a bit of a wrench into the Coliseum City timetable over the next three months. Because Forest City did not sign the 12-month Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) approved last October by the Oakland City Council, funding for the market research could not be allocated. Deliverables connected to the study beginning next February will be delayed one month, said Blackwell.

Benchmarks due last November has either been completed or sufficiently underway, according to a city staff report. They include documents verifying the inclusion of Colony Capital, LLC as an equal partner in the Bay Investment Group (Bay IG); a summary of pre-development costs for the remainder of the ENA; and commencement of negotiations with the Oakland Raiders and the NFL.

Councilmember Larry Reid, however, questioned whether the last deliverable had indeed been met. Reid inquired whether the NFL has met with Bay Investment Group. No, said Hunter, only the Raiders. When he could not explain how the benchmark was satisfied, Blackwell interjected. “The NFL is pretty clear, whereas, they will approve any deal the Raiders negotiate. They are leaving the negotiations up to the Raiders,” said Blackwell.

In addition, some Oakland council members have begun a push to ask the new investment group to, effectively, put their money where their mouth is. Last month, during a Coliseum Joint Powers Authority meeting, Reid said of Bay IG, “Until they put some money up, then they’re in the deal” and “I’m just being real. Show me the money!” This week, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley also raised the question of when Bay IG would provide a financial stake in the project. On Tuesday, Hunter told the council committee, Bay IG has indicated pre-development costs could be between $1.5 million-$2.8 million.