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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Disposition of Mudd's

Uploaded: Dec 3, 2012
The Oversight Board for the dissolution of the assets of the San Ramon Redevelopment Agency finally got around to considering what to do with the Mudd's Restaurant property. The 2.2 acre property is adjacent to the City's Crow Canyon Gardens Park.

In my opinion the building is an architectural and historical treasure and because it is next to a City Park it should be preserved in a way complementary to the park. Anyway that's what my campaign to save the building has been about since June of 2008 when I asked the City Council to buy the property to preserve it and keep it as part of Crow Canyon Gardens Park.

The City, er, the Redevelopment Agency, bought the property in November 2008. The RDA was a separate legal and financial entity from the City, but I thought the City bought it through the RDA because it could use RDA money to buy and restore it.

A year later the RDA received an offer from Oakland Restaurateur Michael LeBlanc to use the property for a new restaurant. The RDA liked the idea and arranged a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) with Mr. LeBlanc to lease him the land and contribute almost a million dollars to tear the old building down for him. I was appalled that the RDA, who were the same people as our San Ramon City Council, would vote to do this. I've been fighting to save the Mudd's building from destruction ever since.

LeBlanc had to meet certain milestones in the DDA, which he did until the last one on February 28, 2012. That's when LeBlanc's financial plan was due to show how he would raise the $4.5M he needed to build his new restaurant and event center and fund its operation. On February 24, 2012, Mr. LeBlanc sent a letter to the RDA asking for a 90 day extension of this deadline.

In the meantime Governor Jerry Brown passed an emergency law shutting down all Redevelopment Agencies and transferring all of their assets to the State for disposition. Our City Council took over as the Successor Agency for the defunct Redevelopment Agency. This was not much of a leap since the City Council was also the RDA.

A new Oversight Board was also formed to make sure all of the RDA assets were accounted for and the State Office of Finance would accept the reports. Are you all still with me now?

After LeBlanc couldn't meet the financing deadline in February, the Successor Agency turned LeBlanc's request for a 90 day extension over to the Oversight Board. The OB finally got around to considering it on December 3, 2012, over nine months later

Mathew Larson from The Growing Room made an offer last May to purchase the property for use as an after school day care and Nature Center. The Oversight Board and Successor Agency are not in position to consider Larson's offer or any other options for the disposition of the Mudd's Property until the status of the DDA is resolved.

Greg Labadie, the attorney hired by the Oversight Board gave a report on the steps necessary to close out the DDA. LeBlanc's failure to submit satisfactory evidence of financing in a timely manner constitutes a default, allowing the Successor Agency to terminate the DDA if the default is not cured within 30 days after the date of a written demand by the Successor Agency.

Mary Lou Oliver asked Marc Fontes if LeBlanc is still interested in the property. Fontes said he spoke to LeBlanc a few months ago but so far LeBlanc has had nine months to submit something and hasn't. So it appears he probably won't continue trying to take over the property or at least not try to restore the DDA.

The Oversight Board voted for the Successor Agency to send a demand letter to Mr. LeBlanc. Mr. LeBlanc will have 30 days to respond. If he does not, the DDA will be officially dead and the Successor Agency can consider the purchase offer from The Growing Room.

Pat Boom is very skeptical about the State accepting Larson's offer because they would consider it too low. She said "We can try to do the right thing and the State will just send it back. It's an exercise in futility." I said at least it is worth a try.

So that's about where we are now and the ball is in LeBlanc's court for the next month and then we shall see where we can go from there.

Comments

Posted by Joe Queirolo, a resident of another community,
on Dec 5, 2012 at 6:28 am

Roz, You wrote: "Fontes said he spoke to LeBlanc a few months ago but so far LeBlanc has had nine months to submit something and hasn't." What did LeBlanc say?


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Dec 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Joe,

If I recall correctly, and you should probably ask Fontes this because I'm not sure about it, Fontes called LeBlanc when his request for an extension was brought up at the Successor Agency meeting to tell him they would be discussing it. I expected LeBlanc to be there, but he wasn't. He also never showed up at any of the Oversight Board meetings to discuss it or make a comment about it.

Mathew Larson attended Successor Agency and Oversight Board meetings to present his purchase offer in Public Comment, and LeBlanc never showed up or showed any interest.

I heard (through the grapevine so this is just hearsay) that he's having some financial troubles with Pican; so he's probably not in a position to take on a new financial burden right now.

Roz


Posted by Richard, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 10, 2012 at 9:42 am

My wife and I had many wonderful meals and memories at Mudd's. I thought it was gone but if there is any chance to save the building and have a new restaurant take over - I will support that initiative. This is a unique building that is part of San Ramon's heritage.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Dec 10, 2012 at 11:09 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Richard,

Mr. LeBlanc originally considered using the building, but he wanted to put his own design there and the agreement with the city included tearing down the building and replacing it with a two story Plantation style restaurant. I would not have objected to his using the original building, but I was and am against tearing it down and replacing it with something totally different.

The Staff Report for the city when they bought the building proposed using it as a Nature Center and to replace a planned building for the park. This would be a great use for it, even though it won't be a restaurant again. I gather it would require too much retrofitting to use as a restaurant, but it could be used for office and daycare.

Matthew Larson, representing The Growing Room, made an offer on the building and is willing to restore it and bring it back up to code. The Growing Room would use it as a Nature Center and for their after school day care programs.

I feel this is a wonderful opportunity to save the building without the city having to invest a lot of money in it. However, the DDA with Mr. LeBlanc must be voided for Mr. Larson's offer or any other offers to be considered. So that's where we are right now.

The Successor Agency is holding a meeting this Tuesday, tomorrow, at 4:30 pm to vote on sending the demand letter to Mr. LeBlanc. I plan to attend this meeting and ask that they limit the demand to 30 days without the possibility of an extension.

Jim Gibbon is also working to obtain Historical status for the building, but we need the permission of the "Owner" to apply. Since the Successor Agency "owns" Mudd's they would have to write a letter to apply for historical status. We can't do that until the DDA is cleared up, so that's the story as it stands right now.

If you or any other readers want to help save Mudd's, please visit our Facebook page, "Save the Mudd's Restaurant building from destruction," and contact the City Council to accept Mr. Larson's offer if Mr. LeBlanc does not "cure" his default on the DDA in 30 days.


Roz


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