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VTA Joint Development Process Clear and Transparent


A recent news report erroneously characterized VTA’s Joint Development Selection process for a Joint Development Project at the Tamien Light Rail Station. VTA’s Joint Development Selection Process provides the development community a clear, inclusive and transparent way to engage in the pipeline of joint development projects on the horizon. The process at Tamien was no different and it will be modeled going forward.

VTA has partnered with UrbanCo-Tamien LLC, a partnership between CORE Development and Republic Urban, to develop 6.96 acres of property located near the Tamien VTA Light Rail and Caltrain stations. This site is east of Highway 87, between the Willow Glen and Alma neighborhoods, about 10 blocks from downtown San Jose.

The main objective of VTA’s Joint Development Program is to provide a long-term, stable source of revenue for VTA, which VTA receives in ground leases of properties that are developed.

VTA’s Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Tamien Joint Development project identified three key goals: development of mixed-use Transit Oriented Development (that is, housing with access to public transportation); inclusion of at least 20% affordable units; and replacement of the existing 566 striped spaces at the Tamien Park and Ride lot.

During the RFP process, in which VTA held two open houses for the development community to answer questions, VTA was clear that: (1) while the RFP required a parking structure, VTA sought, and is open to, alternative arrangements for parking; (2) paid parking would be implemented as part of the future project; and (3) the project would be refined after selection based on work with the community and the City.

Two bids were submitted for the project. VTA staff hired an independent development consultant to help analyze the bids. As part of the process, VTA also convened an RFP Review Panel consisting of various members of VTA’s own staff as well as an engaged community member to review the bids and hear presentations from the two finalists, ROEM and Republic Urban. No VTA Board members were a part of this committee, nor did they take part in any part of the Review Panel’s discussions. The RFP Review Panel ultimately recommended the Republic Urban bid.

As a matter of practice, VTA Board members are not involved in the preparation or offering of an RFP or in the evaluation of submittals. Board members first have an opportunity to review the bids and staff’s analysis at the public Board committee meetings, and then at the Board of Directors meeting after staff has reviewed and recommended a particular bid.

VTA Board members are prohibited by the California Government Code from voting on matters that involve a campaign contributor. As a result, several Board members abstained from the vote to award an Exclusive Negotiations Agreement in the Tamien Project.

The erroneous news report asserted that the requirements of the project changed after the bid was awarded to Republic Urban.  They did not. The Project still includes a parking solution, although, pursuant to Board direction, VTA staff and the development team are working with the City of San Jose to provide more affordable housing as well. A zoning application will soon be submitted to the City that will accomplish this without construction of a $23 million+ parking structure. 
Members of the public, whom VTA has spoken with at two subsequent community meetings and individually, are overwhelmingly in favor of looking for more opportunities to supply affordable housing over parking.

Rebidding projects that meet all RFP goals is not a responsible or viable option for VTA. An exclusive negotiations agreement has been executed between VTA and the chosen developer. This agreement contains binding legal commitments on the part of VTA. In addition, rebidding the project would diminish the meaningful community collaboration required to improve projects during the exclusive negotiations phase. A rebid would likely also reduce the number of future developer bids, since the expectation would be that VTA will rebid projects once the work with VTA and the community improves the project beyond the original submittal.

With the near term VTA Joint Development Portfolio Pipeline (Ohlone Chynoweth, Blossom Hill, and Curtner Stations) there will be multiple opportunities for the development community to participate in additional projects.

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