CLAYTON -- After an unsuccessful year as a "for sale by owner," the city of Clayton has listed its two downtown properties with Realtor Ed Del Beccaro, managing director of Transwestern in Walnut Creek.
These properties are particularly significant because the larger 1.66-acre parcel at 6005 Main St. is the biggest undeveloped piece of land remaining in downtown.
The Oak Street property, which consists of three smaller lots with addresses of 1005 and 1007 Oak St., is also well located, a block off Main Street.
Council members David Shuey and Julie Pierce formed the subcommittee tasked with the sale of the property. They provided a council perspective in conjunction with City Manager Gary Napper, who recommended an agreement with Transwestern.
It was one of three companies responding to a request for proposal issued by the city, and Transwestern's international affiliations meets one of the criteria council members have discussed in the past.
Del Beccaro and two associates made a brief presentation of their analysis of the potential uses of the property at the April 1 council meeting, but did not mention a price or talk about marketing, other than approaching "pedigreed builders."
Napper confirmed that the price is negotiable.
"We might be more open to specific uses if it produces some revenue stream," he said. "We are not going to sell the land without knowing what use is going to go in ... Then we would make a development agreement."
A development agreement differs from a final sale because the agreement only becomes a sale after the developer has gone through the approval process and is ready proceed with a project.
Later, Del Beccaro said that during 10 hours of interviews with city representatives, he discussed how Transwestern could follow through on the purchase/development agreement, vet prospective tenants for sustainability and look for tenants that would complement each other.
Using the term "void analysis," Del Beccaro produced a Transwestern inventory of the types and proximity of surrounding commercial businesses, which could suggest a need for services and goods not being met in Clayton now.
"Although Clayton is a 'cul-de-sac' bedroom community and, where Clayton Valley Center in Concord nearby is a very competitive shopping alternative," Del Beccaro asserts the city has the attributes required for a successful downtown, and the timing is right.
After a national, and then international recession hit the real estate market and rippled through the entire economy, there has been six years of a sluggish recovery with the exception of a few markets.
Del Beccaro told the council that there is a development rebound in core markets, such as Oakland and San Francisco. He reasons that "secondary and tertiary markets, such as Clayton, could see an increase in speculation and interest from developers preparing for the next development cycle."
After the meeting, Del Beccaro acknowledged that the retail element of mixed use is challenging, but he is optimistic that a combination of about one-third retail and two-thirds dense residential will create conditions for a "long-term customer demographic."
Conditions appear to be positive for the city, too. The city purchased the properties from the Clayton Community Church in April 2013 for $1 million.
The church attempted to get approval for a sanctuary and other buildings on Main Street, but withdrew its application before the sale of both properties to the city, according to Napper. (The church subsequently purchased an alternative location in Clayton.)
At that time, Pierce said the city's purchase would give the municipality an ability to control and manage the land use and development. She described a vision of an attractive mix of retail, civic, recreational and residential uses, while maintaining the character of Clayton.
Del Beccaro's remarks included a commitment to "something commensurate with that vision."
"Our job is the 'can do' part, create a tax base, work on the sales process, restaurants and wine bars for evening attractions, retail and mixtures."
In a subsequent conversation, he explained, "It is a synergistic plan. We will not just market the site. We are going to market the whole downtown, including the Post Office.
"Marketing (for lease spaces) will attract businesses that want to relocate six months from now. The new properties will not be available for two years."
According to Del Beccaro, those businesses might rent an existing space and help the downtown in the meantime.
They could also help attract the three types of businesses that he believes are likely to succeed in Clayton: services and products suitable to "errands" on weekends, such as a cleaners, hardware store or flower shop; small stores where someone could stop-off during morning or evening commutes; or places to go for evening outings.
Napper said Del Beccaro has an exclusive listing for 45 days, and will cooperate with other brokers after that, until his one-year listing ends.
Contact Dana Guzzetti at email@example.com or call 925-202-9292.