You guys probably recall that over the past year or so, one thing that keeps coming up in the City’s budget discussions is the idea of making some money by selling off the Kaiser Convention Center.
Some people are against it because they are afraid of whoever buys it tearing the building down. Other people are against it because they don’t think we should be selling off City owned property at all.
For my part, I think selling it is a no-brainer, so long as we can get a decent price. I mean, if you don’t want it to get torn down and replaced by a high-rise, well…don’t zone the land for high rises. Problem solved!
And the Kaiser Convention Center is an amazing building. The City can’t do anything with it, so now, instead of putting it to productive use, we just let it sit there, rotting. It’s awful!
And it’s not for lack of effort. We tried to get voters to approve turning it into a new Main Library, and we failed. We spent plenty of time trying to work out something with LiveNation to keep it owned by the City and do something with it, and we couldn’t make that work either. So why not let somebody else have a shot at it? And get ourselves some money to keep City services going at the same time. It just seems so obvious to me.
And so, it was with much delight that I read item 9 on the agenda (PDF) for last night’s meeting of the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees:
Consider approval to formally enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement (ENA) between the City of Oakland (City) and Peralta Community College District (District) to explore the potential of purchasing the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center (Kaiser Center) located at 10 Tenth Street in Oakland, California. During the ENA period, the District will continue to conduct required due diligence and engage the shared governance process to determine how the facility might support the District’s educational mission.
So what does this mean? Well, it does not mean that the Peralta Community College District is necessarily going to buy the Kaiser Convention Center from us. It means that they’re talking to the City about it and seeing if they can work something out. They would have to decide out, during the negotiating period, exactly what they would want to do with the property if they bought it, figure out what kind of needs the building has to get it back into usable condition, and of course, come to an agreement on price.
Here’s the explanation from the staff report (PDF):
The City of Oakland has requested that the Peralta Community College District formally enter into an ENA for a period of 120 days. The ENA does not obligate the District to purchase or the City to sell (or approve the sale of) the Kaiser Center. The purpose of this ENA is to insure that both parties will continue to perform any due diligence required so that they may be in a position to make a final decision regarding the purchase and sale of the Kaiser Center. During this ENA period, the District will have the opportunity to explore the options and cost benefit analysis of the proposed acquisition. The duration of the ENA period which started on July 27, will end on November 30, 2010. At that time, an extension may be requested so that stakeholder will have the oppotunity to review and digest the draft business plan.
No, I don’t know why they just approved it last night if it’s expiring in a couple weeks either. I am far from an expert in the workings of the Peralta Community College District. It didn’t really sound at the meeting like they had a plan for it in place, so I assume they’ll just extend it? Anyone who knows is more than welcome to enlighten us in the comments.
What I do know, however, is that unlike the City, they actually have money they can use for capital projects like this, thanks to a 2006 bond measure.
So will the sale to Peralta happen? I have no idea. Area 6 Trustee Cy Gulassa sure didn’t seem convinced it was a good idea last night:
And if they do buy it, what will they do with it? I don’t know that either. I’ve heard some people talk about using it as some kind of sports facility. Other people have talked about using it for performing arts. My fantasy for the property is that Peralta buys it and then we turn it into a joint library between the City and Laney College, although I have gotten the impression that’s off the table. A girl can dream, though. Right?