FREMONT -- On the same day Ohlone College announced it had two competing bids to build hundreds of homes on campus, Fremont Unified leaders said they worry that the project would increase traffic and school district overcrowding.
Fremont school board members, who met with Ohlone trustees this week to discuss the issue, said they hope the mixed-use plan will not add to those problems for the 6,200 Mission San Jose district students attending schools near the college.
Overcrowding at some campuses has forced some Fremont students to attend schools outside of their neighborhoods, clogging city streets with more vehicles, school board members said.
"We don't want this development to mean there's more traffic because we're sending more kids far away" from nearby schools, said Fremont Unified Trustee Lara Calvert-York. "We try to keep kids as close to their ... schools as possible, if not in their schools." If the planned housing were built for senior citizens, Fremont school board member Ann Crosbie said, it probably wouldn't add more students to the district's already crowded campuses.
Ohlone's board was noncommittal about solutions at the meeting. It will not decide details until a special meeting Wednesday, when one of the two bids will be selected, said Jim Eller, Ohlone College's attorney.
The first bidder was Clark Realty Capital, which has been in talks for several months with college leaders. Clark's plan would build 300 residences and 20,500 square feet of retail on 15 acres and grant the developer control of the property for 60 years, with a 30-year option. The proposal would give the college an initial payment of $1 million. After that, annual lease payments would be $600,000, but could increase after five years.
The other developer, Carmel Partners, proposes building 314 housing units and retail space totaling 25,000 square feet and, like Clark Realty's deal, could give the developer control of the land for up to 90 years. Carmel's financial terms are similar to Clark's except that its one-time payment would be $1.2 million, Eller said.
College leaders say they want to develop the land because they need a steady source of income that does not rely on state funds.
"We know that funding from the state is not always guaranteed," said Rakesh Sharma, one of three Fremont residents who spoke in favor of developing the land. "The college is trying to get a local income stream to help it do what it does best: provide an excellent education to Ohlone students."
Three other speakers, including former Ohlone College board member John Weed, urged trustees to reject the proposals, saying the college could strike a better deal.
"A lease should not extend beyond the life of the buildings, usually 45 years," he said. "This lease goes twice longer than that. You're going to have junk on your hands."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.