March 21, 2019
Developer behind Oakland megaproject chosen to build 670-unit Richmond waterfront site
Dean Boerner – Editorial intern
San Francisco Business Times
Richmond City Council has picked developer SunCal to enter into negotiations for a historic Richmond waterfront site where it will build at least 670 homes.
SunCal has experience with East Bay megaprojects: It’s currently the master developer for the old Oak Knoll hospital in Oakland, which is slated for 900 homes.
SunCal was one of four development teams that responded to a Request for Proposals for the 413-acre site that includes Point Molate.
The other teams that submitted proposals were Point Molate Partners, Samuelson Schafer and Orton Development.
The chance to develop Point Molate originally came out of the settlement of a long-running lawsuit between the city and a Northern California Native American tribe. As part of the settlement, the judge decided any Point Molate development must include at least 670 homes and must rehabilitate historic buildings already on the site.
According to a statement made by City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, city staff will begin negotiations with the Irvine-based developer for development of Point Molate, based on the Council’s 5-2 decision to select SunCal.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt told the Business Times that SunCal will likely work with Orton on the proposal moving forward, though Butt did not know in what capacity the two would collaborate or how that would affect the ultimate designs for the site.
“SunCal has apparently teamed up with Orton, and that made them an even stronger team,” Mayor Butt told the Business Times. While Orton proposed several projects ranging from 670 housing units to 2,200, SunCal’s original plan offered only an intent to allocate at least 670 residential units across three neighborhoods at the site. Orton has experience with historic rehabs in Richmond, San Francisco and Oakland.
Neither SunCal nor Orton immediately responded to requests for comment.
The next step is for city staff to negotiate with SunCal until arriving at a negotiating agreement and preliminary term sheet, both of which will be voted on by the City Council.
Butt pointed to the relative strengths of SunCal compared to the other three finalists.
“They just had more experience, a stronger financial position, and just seemed to be better suited to the project than some of the other competitors,” said Butt about SunCal.
“Here’s a developer that seems to be well-experienced, well-positioned, and well-financed, and they look like the best prospect to move this forward.”
The Point Molate proposals come at a time when Richmond is starting to see more projects getting closer to fruition. Developers are excited about the new ferry that launched service in January, and hundreds of homes are in the city’s pipeline.