25 June 2007

Newswrap: Billionaires vs. Billionaires

Not much happening right now regarding the Fremont project, but I've heard noises about another report in the offing. We'll see soon enough. On a related note, Fremont officials and staffers held a closed session last Tuesday to discuss the 40-acre parcel west of the planned ballpark village. The A's are looking at this parcel for parking, while prior plans originally called for a mix of a public park next to the future transit hub/train station. The parcel's eastern tip (closest to the ballpark site) is approximately 0.6 mile away from the ballpark.

Over in Phoenix, debt raised to build Chase Field (previously Bank One Ballpark)
is about to be retired an astonishing 19 years earlier than expected. The "BOB" opened in 1997 and was funded by a 59%-41% public-private mix, the public part being a 1/4-cent sales tax hike in Maricopa County. According to the article, "All tax revenue portions for funding the stadium were met before it opened, meaning no taxes have been used toward the stadium since November 1997." Before you ask, don't think this is in any way feasible in the Bay Area. Paying off the BOB worked because the Phoenix metro's staggering growth over the last 20 years. That kind of growth is not anticipated in the Bay Area, where redevelopment has become the operative word, not sprawl.

Down in San Jose, Lew Wolff and Merc reporter Barry Witt appear to be firing a few indirect jabs at each other. First up was Witt's interview of Wolff for Valley AM station KLIV-1590. I didn't listen to it myself, but many Quakes faithful apparently like how Wolff went after Witt's line of questioning. Sunday's edition of the Merc had a Witt article describing how other area developers oppose rezoning of the Edenvale property, which would largely fund the Quakes' stadium project. Among the opposition is billionaire Carl Berg, who wanted some nearby Evergreen land that he owns rezoned. Berg was denied the zoning change, which not coincidentally was industrial-to-residential, similar to what Wolff is seeking but without the promised additional development (stadium + commercial west of SJC at the old FMC plant). To add more intrigue to the situation, Berg was once owner of the Quakes in the early 80's. Witt also threw in the prospect of IKEA placing a store on the Edenvale property. I've heard little to suggest that IKEA is really interested even though its plans for a Dublin store fell through.

The Quakes' situation brings to light something I hadn't thought about until recently. One thing that could sink the Quakes' stadium deal is the possibility of capital gains taxes that the developers (Wolff et al) would have to pay post-rezoning. It stands to reason that an even larger capital gain would occur with Fremont. While I'm certain they're investigating all manner of ways to mitigate the impact of capital gains taxes (*cough* loopholes *cough*), for a non beancounter such as me, it's still a head-scratcher.


anthony dominguez said...

Way, I mean WAY, off the subject. But did ya'll know that before the Giants moved out west in 1958, the Bay Area was within the territorial rights of the Boston Red Sox; by way of their SF Seals Pacific Coast League affilliation (source Boston Red Sox?!! Can you believe that! Anyone know how the NY Giants were granted the rights to the Bay Area back in 58?

Jay said...

ML --

You can listen to the Wolff/Witt interview here.