Thursday, December 22, 2005
MIIS, Middlebury Make it Official
The Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) and Vermont’s Middlebury College tied the knot earlier this month at a private ceremony on the Monterey campus. The agreement made MIIS an affiliate of Middlebury, a deal unanimously approved by both schools’ boards of trustees.
Both schools share an international focus. MIIS enrolls 750 students from 46 counties, and includes programs in translation, interpretation, international policy studies and international business. Middlebury enrolls 2,350 undergraduates from more than 80 counties, and operates seven schools abroad.
Administrators locally and in Vermont say the agreement will allow both campuses to expand on the institutions’ international programs.
“We are extremely pleased,” says MIIS President Steven J. Baker. “The institute came into being 50 years ago, at the height of the Cold War. The challenges and opportunities of today’s world, though different, are even greater. With this affiliation, we strengthen our commitment to build vigorous, innovative models of international education.”
Baker will remain president of MIIS through the end of the year. On Dec. 31, Clara Yu, a Middlebury faculty member since ‘87, will take over. She has been serving as a special advisor to Baker since July, and from January 2006 through July 2006, Baker will serve in a similar advisory role to Yu. [JL]
Marsh on the Market
For sale: Historic and unusual 77-year-old, Northern Chinese-style building in Lake Estero region of downtown Monterey. Needs TLC.
One of Monterey’s most distinctive buildings, a blue-roofed structure known as the G.T. Marsh Building, located at Fremont Street and Camino El Estero, will be on the market in January, according to Diocese of Monterey spokesman Kevin Drabinski.
Drabinski says the building will be listed with local commercial real estate company Mahoney-Tancredi. A listing price has not yet been determined. There will be no restrictions on a buyer.
Local historic preservationists like Enid Sales have long feared the diocese would raze the Marsh Building, which it purchased in 1999, because of its proximity to the Royal Presidio Chapel.
“We’re rather glad that they’re putting it up for sale. We know there are three or four buyers who really prefer [to keep] the building and that’s what we want,” Sales says.
According to Sales, the Marsh Building has been nominated for the national historic register and its application is currently being considered. It was accepted as part of the state’s register of historic places earlier this year.
A unique reproduction of a Northern Chinese merchant compound, the 1928 building housed Marsh’s Art and Antiques for more than seven decades.
The diocese purchased the structure “for the land value,” Drabinski says, and when the store closed three years later, it discussed plans to demolish the structure in order to “expand the campus” of the nearby Royal Presidio Chapel.
Tom Riordan, finance officer for the diocese, told the Monterey City Council last May that the City had led them to believe that there was no historical designation at the time of purchase. The diocese discovered later that the building was on the Monterey Historic Survey.
Diocese officials decided to put the stucco-covered, wood-and-brick structure on the market after learning that it would cost $4 million to renovate. [RM]
‘Partners’ Try Hand at Oldtown Hotel
For nearly 25 years, developers have been vying to take Salinas’ Oldtown skyline upward, with dreams of developing the 100 block of Main Street across from what is now Maya Cinemas. Most everyone envisioned a hotel on the property. Some dreams were bigger than others. Some were just that: dreams.
Last week, the Salinas City Council voted unanimously to deal exclusively with a group of unlikely developers, calling themselves collectively the Salinas City Center Partnership.
The win doesn’t necessarily mean the partnership’s plan will come to fruition, but it does mean that for the next several months, while details are hashed out, they’ll be the only ones with the prospect of building.
The names of some of the partners in the group read a bit like a Who’s Who of local business leaders: Basil Mills, president of Mills Family Farms; Bruce Taylor, CEO of Taylor Farms; Jeff Taylor, owner of Deco Rock; Peter Kasavan, president of Kasavan Architects; Jay DeSerpa, of DeSerpa Development; and Andrew Smith, president of grower-shipper Andrew Smith Company.
The plan replaces that of Ireland-based developer Gerry Kehoe. Kehoe’s Berkley Inc. lost the exclusive right to develop the property he’d had since January of 2001 when, this past August, the Council decided to cease its dealings with Kehoe to build a 14-story ultra-luxe hotel/condo/shopping/restaurant/nightclub.
“This plan sticks to [redevelopment] agency-owned property, and the last plan went beyond that,” says Salinas City Manager Dave Mora. “This one’s realistic. This is also a group of local folks who have shown a community interest on many levels.”
The newest plan is still 14 stories high. It commingles convenience, practicality, consumer demand, and art. If built, the building will be home to 104 condos, 167 hotel rooms, more than 13,000 square feet of retail space, conference space, and a skyway linking the building to the Steinbeck Center.
“I’m very excited about the project,” Mora said. “I think the entire community is excited.”
Within 60 days, and before negotiations can continue, the partnership must clear up a potential conflict of interest. Bruce Taylor is the current president of the Steinbeck Center’s board of trustees; the partnership’s spokesperson, Kim Greer, is the Center’s CEO.
“There has to be a bright line that separates folks in
terms of the partnership and the [Steinbeck] Center,” Mora
said. “The council will have to be 100 percent satisfied that
there are clear lines. But I have every expectation that they
will come through. I don’t doubt it at all.” [MC]
Safeway: Too Little, Too Late
For Safeway, it’s time to check out. Last week, the Monterey City Council voted 3-1 to conclude lease negotiations with Safeway and work only with retail property firm Foothill Partners on a new multi-tenant plan including a Trader Joe’s store for the property at 570 Munras Ave. in downtown Monterey.
According to City Councilmember Libby Downey, the breaking point with Safeway was simple: Safeway wanted to control property rights whether or not it was still an active tenant.
“If they went out of business, they wanted to control the lease for 60 years without our consent [on the tenant],” says Downey, who along with Council members Jeff Haferman and Clyde Roberson voted to end the negotiations. “Sixty years is a long time.” Mayor Dan Albert was the lone dissenting vote; Chuck Della Sala abstained due to a conflict of interest.
Downey says keeping a grocery store in downtown Monterey is critical.
“Many of their stores have gone out of business in the past and sublet their property,” she says. “We want it to remain a grocery store. If we don’t have control, they can sublet to a shoe store.
”While Albert concedes negotiations with Safeway have been “difficult,” he had hoped the City Council would take a Dec. 8 letter from Kathleen Gallagher, Safeway’s vice president of real estate, into greater consideration when deciding whether to continue negotiations. Albert says he quoted the letter at the meeting: “‘Regarding the non-economic points of the lease, specifically property control: Safeway is open and willing to continue to negotiate these items.’”
He says he also wants a grocery store downtown, only his vision of such a store differs from Downey’s. “[Other councilmembers’] definition of a grocery store is a specialty store,” he says, referring to Trader Joe’s. “Mine is a full-service grocery store.”
Alison Mochizuki, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s, doesn’t dispute that Trader Joe’s is no Safeway. “Trader Joe’s is different because roughly 80 percent of our products are private label,” she says. “We don’t carry 20 different brands of ketchup, we carry one type of ketchup at a great price.”
In response to a rumor that Trader Joe’s has plans to offer an expanded, more full-service format store, Mochizuki says that’s not the case. “All of our stores are approximately 10 to 15,000 square feet. None of our stores have delis. But Trader Joe’s does offer a wide selection of produce, dairy, meat, cheese, deli and bakery items.”
Foothill Partners’ Douglas Wiele says he has a letter of intent already signed with Trader Joe’s. He says the leases “should be done in 90 days.” Safeway’s lease expires April 2006. [MCA]