|By Andre Briscoe, The Monterey County
Herald, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Mar. 3, 2007 - Former baseball star Reggie Jackson has identified himself as the mystery developer of a proposed 252-room hotel and conference center in Seaside.
City Manager Ray Corpuz announced late Thursday that Jackson's attorney notified city officials that the baseball icon is the principal investor in Amador 44 Hotel LLC, which was created in November to serve as a developer for the project.
The identity of the developer had been a mystery since last month, when city officials sent notification to dozens of residents and property owners in the area that someone had submitted an "unsolicited proposal" to build the hotel and conference center across from the Embassy Suites Hotel Monterey Bay.
The 5.7-acre project would border Canyon Del Rey and Del Monte boulevards and would be a part of the Laguna Grande Redevelopment Area. Jackson currently owns a 20,000-square-foot parcel, less than half an acre, within the area to be developed.
City officials insisted they were not aware of the developer's identity until getting word from Corpuz on Thursday night during a City Council meeting.
Jackson's lawyer, Edward Blum of Oakland, sent a letter to Corpuz identifying Jackson this week.
Jackson, Blum said, "is attempting to help in the city's desire to improve this part of town. He is taking property he owns and using it along with additional property in hopes of making this happen."
Jackson was at spring training with the New York Yankees in Florida on Friday and could not be reached for comment.
The announcement by Corpuz on Thursday ended weeks of speculation and frustration among Seaside residents and others, with several residents criticizing what they referred to as a "lack of transparency" in city government.
The Herald last month sought to obtain the developer's identity with a California Public Records Act request sent to the city, but the documentation forwarded to the newspaper as a result of the request did not include the name of the developer.
"If the city doesn't know who is behind this, it shouldn't spend time and money dealing with them," said Nelson Vega, a property owner who admonished the City Council on Thursday prior to the announcement.
Blum said the development plans were in their early stages and any challenges now would be "premature."
"We hope to come to a point where the city says, 'Yes, this is something that can work,'" Blum said. "Reggie has been in the community for a number of years and he knows what it will take to revitalize that area.... He is looking to find out if he can be an instrument to make this occur. Everybody who is in a position to tell us what they think of our proposal has said that it has merit. I don't think he would be going through this trouble if he thought it wasn't worth the effort."
City officials notified residents and business owners within the proposed development area about the hotel in early February. The notifications invited other property owners to file a "statement of interest" form with the city that would allow them to make "alternative proposals" for the property.
City officials said they expect to present the notification findings to the council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, no earlier than March 15. Planning firm EMC has asked for a 12-month exclusive negotiating agreement on behalf of Amador 44 Hotel if the proposal is accepted.
If the proposal is approved, the hotel and conference center would require people in 17 homes, four businesses and a church to relocate.
The proposal calls for the construction of a maximum six-story hotel, 15,000-square-foot conference center, a three- to four-story parking structure and up to three stories of work force housing for hotel workers.
Embassy Suites, across the street from the site, has 225 suites and sits on six acres.
Andre Briscoe can be reached at 646-4436 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Monterey County Herald, Calif.
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