The 11-acre project replaces the long-vacant Mervyn’s building on Foothill Boulevard includes the demolition of the office space, but retains the existing 579-stall parking structure. It also includes up to 11,000 square feet of open space with the housing portion of the project encompassing two six-story buildings containing studio-size apartments to three-bedroom units. However, none reserved for affordable housing. City official believe the development will spark commerce in Hayward’s struggling downtown, while retaining and attracting new residents.
Hayward’s Planning Commission approved the project in February, but Tuesday’s final approval followed an appeal arguing the city failed to taken account whether the inclusion of a 30,000 square foot store intended to anchor the development’s retail portion would cause businesses in the vicinity to close, thereby contributing to “urban decay.” It is unclear who exactly wass behind by the appeal, but a large portion of Tuesday’s night discussion revolved around rumors of the premium grocery outlet Whole Food’s being the intended anchor tenant for Lincoln Landing.
John Nunes, union president for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 5, argued the inclusion of another grocery store in the area (a Safeway store is across the street from the Lincoln Landing project) would hurt union workers. Nunes told the council the union had previously failed to reach an agreement with the project’s developer for allowing the proposed tenant, if a grocery store, to be a union shop. A representative for the project’s developer, Dollinger Properties, was adamant about having no prospective tenant in mind yet. The City Council, though, largely ignored the union’s argument, primarily that new retailers would force nearby businesses to close.
Hayward Councilmember Marvin Peixoto lauded the project, but slammed what he characterized as “outside special interest groups” again meddling in Hayward’s civic affairs. “I’m damn sick and tired of it,” said Peixoto, who has lodged similar criticisms against unions, primarily a bid by SEIU Local 1021 in 2014 to spend heavily for two of his opponents that year for the City Council.
For Peixoto, Tuesday’s vote also vindicated his somewhat unpopular decision to vote against a different proposal in 2014 for the Mervyn’s property that included 194 town homes and 16,800 square feet of retail space. “I voted against it because I thought it wasn’t good enough,” Peixoto said of the previous proposal, while lauding the Lincoln Landing project and the developers for its community engagement.
Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday, who voted for the earlier plan, said she did so due to continuing problems, including crime that still persists, that was created by the vacant property, shuddered in 2008 after Mervyn’s filed for bankruptcy. “We all make mistakes,” said Halliday. “I’m glad that vote did fail because this project is better for Hayward.”
The absence of affordable housing within the project concerned some councilmembers, primarily Councilmember Elisa Marquez, who noted the irony of the City Council earlier in the same meeting proclaiming “East Bay Affordable Housing Week” in Hayward while also approving a large housing development that contains no relief for lower-income renters. Rents at Lincoln Landing may average $2,500 a month, according to a city staff report, although the developer said the price range for studios and one-bedroom units will range between $1,500 and $2,300 a month.
Councilmember Mark Salinas added, “We need more affordable housing. I get it.” The influx of new residents to Hayward, though, shouldn’t alarm existing resident who may fear gentrification, he said. “They’re not the enemy, they’re contributors to our community.”