01 Jun Parcel B: what fate for the Heart of Culver City?
Heads up Culver City!
Parcel B, the long-time empty lot between Trader Joe’s and the Culver Hotel is slated for development. On Monday June 13th, the Council/Redevelopment Agency will select three developers to move forward on proposals for this prime public land in the heart of Downtown Culver City.
Normally, development projects go through the RFP (Request for Proposal) process. Exceptionally, Parcel B is going through the RFQ (Request for Qualifications) process, wherein developers are pre-selected. On Valentine’s Day (02/14/11), a city staff report provided a list of pre-selected developers [download report here]:
Second Street Venture, Forest City, JH Snyder, Tolkin Group, Combined Properties, Caruso Affiliated, Federal Realty Investments, Irvine Asset Group, Thomas Properties Group, Trammell Crow Company, Macerich, Champion Development
Note that the last on the list, Champion Development, years ago proposed a highly controversial and ultimately failed mega-project along Sepulveda Blvd. (see Gary Walker’s March 25th article in the Culver City News).
When the city hosted a public “workshop” on the topic of Parcel B on November 9th, 2010, there was overwhelming public support for a design competition for this exceptional piece of public real estate. [See letter to editor about this Q&A parading as a workshop.] However, rather than a design competition, the city proposed a selection process quite the opposite from an open competition, the RFQ. The Council/Redevelopment vote to accept the RFQ process conveniently took place this Valentine’s Day 2011. I submitted the following comments:
Several residents at the November 9th workshop on Parcel B expressed the desire to hold a design competition for this site. Although tonight’s staff report acknowledges this point, it does not explain why the proposed RFQ/RFP process is superior to a design competition.
In effect, a design competition will generate more excitement, creativity and good press for Culver City than the RFQ/RFP process. It will bring attention to the importance of this prime location and development opportunity. Rather than limiting the Agency’s choice to a relatively short pre-selected list of developers, it will cast a wider net, drawing in more healthy competition, and more opportunities to find the right kind of project for this most important location: the heart of the “Heart of Screenland.”
A Design Competition is an open process, it is visible, media-generating and it’s an exciting process for residents, business-owners and patrons of Culver City. It would be a real shame to miss all of these benefits.
The RFQ passed, public demand for a design competition lost out.
During the upcoming June 13th Council/Redevelopment meeting, according to the city’s notification letter, seven developer responses will be considered, and three will be shortlisted. We won’t know who the seven are until the agenda is released on or after June 8th. [Download the letter here.]
One can only imagine the intense lobbying going on in Culver City cafes and offices from now until Monday, June 13th.