Del Rey Oaks keeps trying to quit a jilted, but stubborn, resort developer.

Ride of Way: Del Rey Oaks Mayor Jerry Edelen imagines turning the city’s Fort Ord parcel into condos and stables, accessible by trail from the proposed Monterey Downs development.

As cities across the state face huge debts in the wake of their dissolved redevelopment agencies, tiny Del Rey Oaks is pursuing a luxury project on the former Fort Ord. “We got lucky on this one,” DRO Mayor Jerry Edelen says. 

In March, the city quietly transferred its only redevelopment asset – a 360-acre Fort Ord parcel with stunning bay views and Monterey pine stands – from the defunct redevelopment agency to itself. 

It did so without creating an oversight committee, the check-and-balance system set up in Assembly Bill X1 26 to determine who gets what as redevelopment agencies are dismantled. The city’s position is that with nothing to divvy up, no oversight committee is necessary. But Washington, D.C.-based Federal Development/JER Associates disagrees, claiming it should get first dibs to develop the land. 

Federal had once planned a golf course, boutique hotel and hundreds of condos on the hilltop parcel and claims to have sunk $17 million into the project over five years. The firm established a Monterey office and had nearly completed an environmental impact report, according to Federal’s attorney, Barbara Kreig.

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Last week, a trial date was set for March 2013. But Del Rey Oaks isn’t waiting for a verdict before courting a new developer. The city has received seven responses, one from Federal, to a request for prospective partners.

Federal is seeking a court injunction to stop Del Rey Oaks’ search, arguing it should remain at the front of the line until the trial ends. But Monterey County Superior Court Judge Marla Anderson ruled in the city’s favor April 20. 

Kreig filed a motion for the court to reconsider Anderson’s ruling. “Federal wants to stay in the game,” she says.

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