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Media Coverage
Council Prepares To Pick A Marina Bay Developer
April 26, 1999



Monday, April 26, 1999
Section: news
Page: A03
Shawn Masten

RICHMOND The City Council is expected Tuesday to select a developer to remake a vacant parcel at the entrance to Marina Bay into a commercial center with a market, a family restaurant and other services residents long have clamored for.

Of the three developers interviewed by the council last week, the likely candidate is Rafanelli, Nahas and Ambrose, an Orinda firm and developer of 1,180 apartments in Marina Bay.

"They know what the needs of the people out there are who would be their market," said David Thompson, director of the city's Redevelopment Agency.

Marina Bay residents long have complained of a lack of nearby conveniences such as a video store, dry cleaner or family restaurant. The nearest supermarket is miles away in El Cerrito, and the area's only restaurant is the upscale Salute.

But construction of hundreds of new offices and residences in the area is creating the "critical mass" needed to finally make it attractive to more businesses.

Five developers responded to the Redevelopment Agency's request for proposals to buy and develop the vacant 3.5-acre property known as Harbor Gate.

The city paid about $400,000 for the land. Developers proposed to buy it for about $1 million.

Located at the corner of Interstate 580 and Marina Bay Parkway, it is one of the city's main gateways.

The top three proposals included a 7-Eleven/Citgo gas station and an International House of Pancakes or Chili's restaurant or a center with amenities such as a Noah's Bagels and a Starbucks Coffee and a lighthouse tower landmark visible to motorists on I-580.

The latter was proposed by Richard Poe, president of Penterra Company, master developer of Marina Bay, a 360-acre residential, commercial and recreational development, which includes a 500-berth marina, some 2,200 housing units, parks and an esplanade.

Rafanelli won the favor of the agency staff with its design a maritime theme with a Sausalito-style waterfront appearance and with its proposal to develop the whole 10.8-acre block, including the agency's owned parcel.

Its proposed 129,000-square-foot project would include retail stores, a sit-down restaurant and light industrial office buildings.

The retail portion could include an anchor tenant drugstore such as a Walgreen's, RiteAid or Longs, and smaller stores such as sandwich or gourmet coffee shops, a video store, a dry cleaner and a bank.

It does not include a gas station, as proposed by the other two developers.

Councilman Tom Butt said he'd like to see a gas station there.

"That's where you put gas stations," Butt said. "You put them out at freeway interchanges."