From Daily Republic // Aug. 23, 2005
By Christine Cubé
SUISUN CITY - The local real estate community is buzzing about the possibility that Highland Development Co. has been removed from the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter project in Suisun City.
Highland says it just isn't so.
While there has been some high-level staff departures with the San Mateo-based company - among them Highland CEO Jim Kessler and project manager Dean Issacs, who was initially on the Suisun City project - the developer is forging ahead with the project, said Paul Caruso, vice president of acquisition for Highland Development Co.
"We're still under contract," Caruso said, mentioning that the company in the last couple weeks made a six-figure payment toward the completion of the environmental impact report that's planned to be circulated in November. "We're definitely moving forward."
The reason for the recent staff changes at Highland?
"Philosophical differences with the managing partner (real estate investment brokerage Marcus Millichap) and they chose to do different things," Caruso said, mentioning that Marcus Millichap is the majority partner of Highland.
The company still faces a long and complicated entitlement process. The group is working with a number of different agencies including the state Department of Fish and Game, Local Agency Formation Commission and Suisun City.
Jason Garben, project manager for the Suisun City Redevelopment Agency said after the environmental impact report is complete, the next hurdle involves getting the huge section of the Gentry property annexed into the city. In the meantime, the city is arranging meetings with the public and the Main Street West developers to make sure the development projects complement one another.
"We would like to have complimentary projects rather than things that will compete," Garben said. "There's a good opportunity to create two developments that are viable in the long term and can create synergies for each other."
Highland's overall mixed-use project involves 675,000 square feet of gross retail space and about 359 single-family attached and/or detached homes to be developed by Silverwing Development. The proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter would serve as the anchor of the retail development, taking up roughly 220,000 square feet. Other big box retailers have not yet been named, although project developers identified likely tenants include a home improvement warehouse and apparel store. The projected groundbreaking is 2007.
This would be Highland's first project in Suisun City. Similar developments include a community shopping center in Hanford which features an Albertsons, Orchard Supply Hardware and Rite-Aid.
Reach Christine Cubé at 427-6934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.