ALAMEDA -- Developer Ron Cowan has withdrawn his proposal to build homes on the site of the Harbor Bay Athletic Club, but still wants city officials to approve a plan to replace the club with a new facility on North Loop Road.
The developer also wants city officials to stop working on a draft Environmental Impact Report that would have evaluated a hotel and conference center at the club's current location at 200 Packet Landing Road, a proposal that emerged after the effort to build the 80 single-family homes met with opposition from neighbors.
"Our primary goal has always been to build a new athletic club," said Timothy Hoppen, president of Cowan's Harbor Bay Isle Associates. "It was never our intention or desire to get into a fight with the nearby residents."
But Harbor Bay Neighbors, a citizens group that wants the club to stay at its current location, said the developer's latest move was just an attempted "end run" to get quick city approval for moving the facility.
Allowing a new club to be built in the Harbor Bay Business Park, the group said in an e-mail, would be a de facto decision on the fate of the current club, which it said was built to serve nearby residents. The group wants city officials to continue considering the future of both parcels as a single project.
"My clients have a long history of working cooperatively with the residents and homeowner associations that make up the Harbor Bay Isle community and we have not wanted to engage in arguments or disputes with persons who have raised concerns or objections to redevelopment of the Packet Landing Road site with new homes or a hotel and conference center," Daniel Reidy, an attorney who represents the developer, said in a March 10 letter to City Planner Andrew Thomas.
Along with announcing the withdrawal of the application to redevelop the current club location, the letter asked city officials to consider approving an athletic club in the business park "on an accelerated schedule."
The current club sits on 12 acres and features a spa, 19 tennis courts and other amenities. The new club proposed for the business park would have three pools, eight tennis courts and an all-weather sports field. It would be built on about nine acres on North Loop Road near the Chinese Christian School and the KinderCare Learning Center.
The effort to build a new athletic club as a way to better serve members' needs goes back to 2002, Hoppen said, and studies of possible sites began in 2004.
In his letter, Reidy said the withdrawal of the application to redevelop the current club location "was prompted by the considerable levels of confusion and misplaced concerns about the project that have surfaced in the community due to misunderstandings and erroneous interpretations about the history, background and context of the city's (original) approval" of the facility.
The climate "seriously jeopardized" whether the proposal to redevelop the site would be evaluated on its merits, Reidy said.
Developer Ron Cowan's proposal to build homes or a hotel and conference center at the current athletic club location followed the City Council decision to reject his plan to build up to 130 homes on a portion of the city-owned Chuck Corica Golf Complex in exchange for 12 acres at the business park for public sports fields.
Zoning and other issues prevent Cowan from building the homes at the business park.
Contact Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him at Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.