LASD delays purchase of 10th school site three weeks

Kohl’s Mountain View
Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos School District is set to purchase a 10th school site where Kohl’s currently sits in Mountain View.

The Los Altos School District delayed its purchase of a 10th school site in Mountain View by three weeks, citing an upcoming decision by the Mountain View City Council that may affect the sale’s financing.

The $155 million deal is now expected to close Dec. 4 rather than Nov. 13. To help cover the cost of the site, the district plans to sell 610,000 square feet of unused development rights for a total of $79.3 million.

However, next month the Mountain View City Council is expected to vote on a zoning document that could impact some of the developers slated to buy square footage from the district.

The council is expected to make a final decision on the East Whisman Precise Plan Nov. 5, which lays out land use and development regulations for an area that sits at the eastern edge of Mountain View.

The district plans to sell 335,000 square feet of development rights to buyers who intend to use the extra square footage on projects in the East Whisman area. Those developments may be affected by the regulations in the precise plan.

“We need to understand their reaction to what the city decides to do in this precise plan and make sure they’re still on board to buy our TDRs,” said Randy Kenyon, the school district’s business director, referring to transfer of develpment rights.

The precise plan is more than two years in the making, and the current draft of the plan on the city’s website is more than 200 pages. It covers topics including the balance between office and residential development, creating public open space and improving transportation infrastructure.

District board president Jessica Speiser said she is “very optimistic” that the sale of the 10th site will go through, but the board wanted to wait to get more information before closing the sale.

“There are a lot of moving parts to this deal and we want to make sure that we’re being fiscally responsible,” Speiser said.

If any of the East Whisman buyers do fall through, Kenyon said the district has identified other developers interested in purchasing square footage. However, there currently aren’t enough additional buyers to make up for all of the East Whisman projects.

Kenyon said he doesn’t know the likelihood of the East Whisman developers deciding not to purchase development rights from the district, but the district continues to look for other interested buyers just in case.

Last month, the sale of 150,000 square feet of development rights was put in question when the city council blocked a proposed design for an office building at the corner of San Antonio Road and California Street. That project is within the San Antonio Precise Plan area.

The council’s decision doesn’t stop developer Merlone Geier Partners from coming back with a new design, which the company has said it intends to do. However, it isn’t clear how many square feet of development rights Merlone Geier will purchase. Developers only pay the district after their projects receive final approval from the city.

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