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Media Coverage
Richmond Taps Marina Bidder
July 23, 1999



Friday, July 23, 1999
Section: news
Page: A03
Shawn Masten

RICHMOND After hearing the sales pitches of two powerhouse Southern California marina operators, the City Council on Thursday selected Marina Bay Isle as the preferred operator but it's not a done deal.

Using the firm's hearty proposal as its guide, the city next month will put the operation of its Richmond Marina out to bid, which could bring even better offers.

We're going out for raises," Councilman Tom Butt said.

The council expected to make its final selection Thursday but learned that state law requires the city to put out to the highest bidder a long-term lease proposal for privatization of the city-run Richmond Marina.

Redevelopment Agency staff in May requested proposals for a long-term lease or operating agreement. Staff had assumed that the council could select from the six proposals it received by the June 25 deadline.

The council interviewed the top two candidates Rolling Hills Estates-based Marina Bay Isle and Encino-based Westrec Marinas at a special meeting.

Marina Bay Isle's proposal was unanimously picked by the council as the minimum bid requirement for the operation. It includes a 55-year lease and a $4 million initial payment to help reduce the city's $7 million debt to the state.

But now others may enter the fray with an equal or higher bid, including Westrec. It proposed a 50-year lease plan with a $2.8 million initial payment.

Asked after the council vote whether the firm would consider making another offer, Westrec Senior Vice President Tom Hogan said "most likely."

The council's final decision, expected in September, is subject to approval by the state Department of Boating and Waterways.

City officials decided in January to go with an outsider to operate the 18-year-old, 751-slip marina after years of low occupancy rates and multimillion dollar losses.

The city's request for proposals elicited responses from unexpected and politically powerful sources. The Newport Beach-based Bellport Group, which includes former major league baseball commissioner and head of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee Peter Ueberroth and his son Joe Ueberroth, did not make the cut.

Joe Ueberroth was en route to the East Coast late Thursday and couldn't be reached for comment on whether his group will submit a new bid.

Marina Bay Isle is a newly formed venture of West Coast marina operator Almar Ltd. and financier Yucaipa Co., both based in Rolling Hills Estates.

The group's financial partners include multimillionaire grocery magnate Ronald Burkle, and political fund-raiser Darius Anderson. Both are campaign contributors to San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown who long has had behind-the-scenes involvement with Richmond politicians, including some now on the council.

Vice President Randy Short's pitch to the council Thursday pictured the Richmond Marina entering the upscale boating world riding on the waves of Almar's success. Richmond boaters would have free access to its other six facilities from Alameda and Clipper Cove, near Treasure Island in the Bay, to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Short said.

The council is scheduled to interview bidders at a special meeting Sept. 7.