Demanding a $2.75 million deposit from a developer charged with reversing Stanislaus County's economic doldrums might not have been the wisest strategy, county staff acknowledges in a briefing to Tuesday's milestone meeting.
The deposit helped persuade county leaders in June to grant West Park developer Gerry Kamilos a time extension for key studies. It also provided leaders with a potential reason to fire him when his investors failed to wire the money.
County supervisors Tuesday will decide whether to seek new proposals for transforming a former naval air base near Crows Landing into an industrial complex. A majority of supervisors last week indicated that they want a fresh start, but they postponed a final decision to review options on finding a new partner.
The options, laid out in a report:
Start over with what is called a request for proposals, which could land a new developer by about March and key environmental studies in a couple of years.
Ask staff to put more thought into "strategic alternatives" and return with recommendations.
Ignore West Park's breach of contract, or deposit failure, and hold Kamilos to his promise of producing studies by Jan. 31. Last week, he said that's no longer possible and asked for a third extension, until April 30.
Based on lessons learned from dealing with Kamilos for five years, staff late last week drafted a bid framework requiring that interested developers have "relevant experience" with large projects. That might include dealing with railroads, sea ports and airports, says the paper, suggesting asking for a "proven track record of project success of this size with a focus on
The report concedes that demanding a huge deposit to prove deep pockets "may not be the most flexible or necessary approach. Fiscal ability and solvency may be established by requiring a letter of credit or other tangible agreement."
The deposit, due July 10, also was meant to pay consultants working on West Park studies. New bidding could require a $2 million deposit for that purpose, the report says, but the other $750,000 could not be spent on site improvements until after an environmental impact report.
In West Park's case, that means there was no practical basis for at least part of the deposit.
Kamilos on Saturday said he's never had to put up that much money before and continues to confer with investors. He will attend Tuesday's meeting, he said.
His West Park blueprint featured a rail link to the Port of Oakland and Asian shipping, a component unlikely to be reproduced by another bidder. West Park Holdings controls some 1,300 acres adjacent to the base; leaders should expect new bids to be much more conservative in size, the report says.
Tuesday's meeting of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors starts at 9 a.m. in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto.
On the Net: www.stancounty.com/bos/agenda/2012/Ag08-28-12.pdf.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.
Quotes from last week's pivotal meeting of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors:
'We certainly are accountable, but we're also committed. The fact is, there are many issues that have come up and we have had to deal with them.'
Gerry Kamilos, West Park Holdings
'(Kamilos) has mentioned many times that litigation held up his project considerably. Yet he told us four years ago he had built into his schedule time for litigation and financing to handle the litigation.'
Ron Swift, West Side-Patterson Alliance for Community and Environment
'It's time to cut the lifeline and cast Mr. Kamilos off to make his plans and promises elsewhere'
Mary Clemmer, Patterson
'Supervisor Jim DeMartini tried to put me in jail for two years. (But) he has exposed this situation here. For you to grant this extension tonight would be calling your colleague a liar.'
Carmen Sabatino, former mayor, Modesto
'I know there are other (developers) out there. But are there other people who would be as committed as this gentleman (Kamilos)? That's my question.'
Bill O'Brien, supervisor
'I just hope whoever comes up with whatever plan in the future, whether this or something else, that we as citizens and residents of this county can show some decorum and some respect for people who want to invest in our county'
Cecil Russell, president, Modesto Chamberof Commerce
'I believe the whole (West Park) concept is terrific. It's very unique.'
Dick Monteith, supervisor
'(Kamilos) has absolutely no local support from people in the area. That's not because people on the West Side don't like industrial projects. (Keystone and Arambel) are not sniveling about the economy. They are not blaming Lehman Brothers or the city of Patterson. They're just rolling up their sleeves and getting their projects done.'
Jim DeMartini, supervisor
'I think the time is right to open this up to (new bids), to see if there is interest out there. Everyone is mad at me, but that's fine, I've been able to sleep at night. I really felt I did the right thing.'
Vito Chiesa, supervisor