(Related Article: June 26, 2005)
From Daily Republic, Fairfield // June 22, 2005
By Matthew Bunk // Staff Writer
SUISUN CITY - As several redevelopment projects move forward that will shape the future of the city, one parcel along the waterfront is quickly becoming its most highly contested chunk of land.
Just beyond the end of the boat docks lined up along Suisun Slough and right behind Adams Marine lies a grass-covered lot that could become a housing development or a high-class restaurant surrounded by shops, depending on who the city chooses to develop it.
Bill Adams, who owns Adams Marine boat shop, wants to expand the business toward the waterfront and team up with a developer to build a two-story building with a restaurant, lounge and shops overlooking the slough.
Development consortium Ballman, Jensen and Pitcher, however, says the property is ideally suited for a residential development of eight three-story homes with work spaces below. It would be similar to the live-work spaces of the adjacent Promenade development.
The debate on what should be done with the property overshadowed other topics on the agenda for Tuesday night's Suisun City Council meeting. Surprisingly, it stole the spotlight from the much-ballyhooed Main Street West project, which was discussed once again without revealing any details.
That project, intended to enhance the city's business structure by building homes and shops at key points of Suisun's downtown, is the largest ongoing urban renewal effort in the city. But even though representatives for developer Miller Sorg Group have presented plans to city leaders, they still didn't say what would replace the undeveloped gravel lots that dot downtown.
"It's still preliminary at this stage," city economic development specialist Al da Silva said. "There are no details except that it's mixed use."
The city council approved an exclusive negotiating agreement that gives Miller Sorg 100 days to present its ideas.
As for the disputed waterfront property, several council members said Adams Marine, which has been at the site for the past eight years, should have a chance to expand. That should be a priority, Mayor Jim Spering said, because owner Bill Adams has already invested there.
But the Adams Marine expansion would take up only part of the property, and there would be additional room for a different type of development along the waterfront. The city should put that parcel out to bid, a majority of council members agreed.
"I'd like to see both proposals brought forward," Councilman Sam Derting said.
Both Bill Adams and the opposing developer Ballman, Jensen and Pitcher told the council they're ready to move ahead with whichever project the city approves.
"Two years ago I offered to buy that property, and I've been working on it ever since," Adams said. "I'm hitting this as fast as I can hit it."
Jim Pitcher, of Ballman, Jensen and Pitcher, said the entire plot of land is needed to make the residential development feasible. His partners agreed, and said the city should resist playing favorites.
"We're not interested in public property being wheeled and dealed to one party," James Jensen said. "Both projects need an equal opportunity."
Reach Matt Bunk at 425-4646, ext. 267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.