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Santa Clara unveils development plans near Niners stadium

Posted October 28, 2013

SANTA CLARA -- A pair of plans -- one led by Hall of Famer Joe Montana -- that would transform an area near the new 49ers football stadium into a massive retail, entertainment and office complex came into focus Friday when developers for the first time unveiled renderings and details. Both developers had described in general terms their concept for the projects, but Friday they pulled back the curtain on their vision in advance of a City Council session Wednesday evening when Montana himself is expected to make an appearance. City officials hope to get feedback from elected leaders and the public to shape negotiations with developers. "We have the ability to create something incredibly unique and wonderful that will leave a lasting impression on all who live, work and visit this exciting new destination in Santa Clara," Montana, who was overseas with the team, said in a statement his partners provided. The Montana Property Group teamed up with Lowe Enterprises to propose a $400 million "Centennial Gateway" luxury hotel, office and entertainment project on 9.5 city-owned acres at the intersection of Tasman Drive and Centennial Boulevard across the street from the stadium now under construction. Santa Clara has entered an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Montana group for leasing the site. But city officials said they will work out the terms after next week's meeting. Also detailed were plans by Related California for a massive $1.5 billion "City Place Santa Clara" retail, entertainment, residential, hotel and office project on 215 acres of city-owned land that is now the site of the Santa Clara Golf & Tennis Club and a bicycle-motocross track. The city also has entered an exclusive negotiating agreement with Related California for a land lease, and officials said those details also are pending. "This is intended to serve the entire community," said Related California President Bill Witte. "It is truly intended to be a center where people can live, work and play." To city officials, the two projects demonstrate the dividends of the city's investment in the 49ers' $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium, expected to open in August 2014. Santa Clara lent $850 million toward the project through a city-created Stadium Authority to be paid back through seat licenses, naming rights and other stadium-related revenues. "We're very fortunate to have the 49ers as partners," City Manager Julio J. Fuentes said, calling the stadium a "catalyst" and "nucleus" for attracting development. "We are creating a sense of place with the development," Fuentes said. Montana and his partners had originally hoped their upscale hotel, restaurant and sports bar would open with the stadium, but are now planning have it ready in time for the 50th Super Bowl, to be played there in February 2016. The 860,000-square-foot development would include a seven-story, 200-room hotel, a Joe Montana signature restaurant as well as retail and office space. Developers also envision a second, 125-room hotel with possible residential units. There would be 230,000 square feet of office area and 150,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The hotel would be independent, developed and operated by Lowe. Matthew Walker, Lowe Destination Development's executive vice president, described it as a "very high-end lifestyle hotel," with "the food and beverage experience seamlessly integrated." Lowe is currently building a 43-acre office campus on San Jose's North First Street near Mineta International Airport, and also developed the Resort at Squaw Creek in Squaw Valley. "This is for someone who wants more than just a great night of sleep," Walker said. The project by Related California, an affiliate of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross' $15 billion Related Companies, could be likened in concept to Santana Row, though on a larger scale. The main City Center development would occupy 89 acres behind the Montana project between Lafayette Street and Great America Parkway, and would be several times the size of Santana Row. It calls for a cinema, market, restaurant and 886,000 square feet of retail area. The total project would include 1.4 million square feet of retail and entertainment area, 2.2 million square feet of office space, 200 hotel rooms and 530 residential units. It could be completed by the end of the decade. City officials are discussing with the developer options for relocating the golf course and BMX track. City officials and developers stressed that both projects are in early phases and that there likely will be changes to accommodate public comment, council feedback and environmental studies. "It's exciting," Fuentes said. "We're actually creating a city within a city."