Friday, August 11, 2006

Developer's Plans Thrill Vallejo Mayor

Developer's Plans Thrill Vallejo Mayor
By Chris G. Denina/Times-Herald, Vallejo

A developer Tuesday unveiled what Vallejo officials called an ambitious pitch to turn part of the city's northeast area into a new commercial center including a hotel, condominiums and offices.
The so-called Crossroads project was one of two plans presented Tuesday to the Vallejo City Council. The council was asked to comment on the projects, which are in the early stages of development and still need future approvals. Both are scheduled for key sites considered major entrances to the city.

"It's a thrilling idea," Mayor Tony Intintoli Jr. told developer Gary Mandarich about his

Crossroads concept for about 128 acres northeast of Interstate 80 and Columbus Parkway.

Mandarich said he wants to create a statement with his newest project, which follows his work in the city's northeast area developing housing including condominiums and an auto mall.

"It is the most visible piece of land in the city," Mandarich said.

In the next few years, Mandarich said he hopes to develop the hotel and conference center, plus offices, high-rise condo buildings and parks.

Another project in the same area, however, may get built sooner. City staff said a Lowe's home improvement store is in the works just east of Crossroads.

The Crossroads plan is still in the early stages, Mandarich said.

Meanwhile, another developer pitched plans to develop 285 townhomes on about 13 acres between Sonoma Boulevard and Broadway, south of Mini Drive.

"We're very excited to be entering the Vallejo market," Project Manager Dan Huertas said.

Before the project can move forward, however, the company would need to seek a zoning change to allow homes. The land is zoned for such uses as stores, automotive projects and even scrap operations.

The city should seek commercial uses for the land, Councilman Gerald Davis said. To the north of Vallejo, American Canyon is seeing plenty of new stores being built along the corridor, he said.

Unlike a residential project, a commercial venture would benefit the cash-strapped city since stores generate sales tax revenues, Davis said.

"In a city that is struggling financially, that has to be a factor," Davis said.

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