At the Tuesday, Sept. 6, City Council meeting, the five councilmen made a unanimous vote directing city staff to negotiate a developer agreement to get the ball rolling on the Cordes Ranch business and industrial center.
Cordes Ranch — 17,000 acres of land currently outside city limits and bordered by the Patterson Business Park and the Delta-Mendota Canal on the west, Interstate 205 on the north, Old Schulte Road on the south and Hansen Road on the east — has long been touted as a future jobs center by city leaders.
One of the first steps toward realizing that goal is reaching an agreement with the tract's developers — Golden State Developers, Delta Properties, GBC Global Investments Inc. and TWL Investors — that would specify performance criteria from both developers and the city, said Bill Dean of Tracy’s planning department.
Among the benefits proffered by developers include constructing a “state-of-the-art” business development that will provide “head-of-household” type jobs, according to city staff’s report.
Dean said any agreement could also offer the developers incentives, including financial support, though nothing’s certain, as the project in a nascent stage.
”That discussion really has yet to begin,” Dean said.
According to Andrew Malik, the head of the city’s Development and Engineering Services Department, work on Cordes Ranch could begin as early as late 2012, weather and paperwork permitting. But first, he said, a specific plan and environmental impact review must be finished in conjunction with the developer agreement.
Malik insisted the city is rushing to get Cordes Ranch done. As growth in the Northeast Industrial Area shows — Malik pointed to the soon-to-open Best Buy distribution center as just one example — there are indeed outfits that will take advantage of a location in Tracy.
“The market is there,” he said.
Dean also said the business and industrial park would offer visitors a new vision of Tracy when they head east into the city.
But Councilman Robert Rickman said he’s concerned that new vision could be bleak if not managed properly.
“I don’t want Tracy surrounded by warehouses,” Rickman said.
Malik and Dean, however, said staff envisions the park as attractive feature. The city plans to incorporate public feedback into the project, Dean said.
Before the council signed off on the agenda item, Dean reminded the five councilmen that their vote didn’t commit the city to anything binding.
Councilman Mike Maciel added that this “very preliminary step” was important to making Tracy a stronger economic locus.
“This is one of our greatest assets, that we have this much land we can committee and make it available to companies…” Maciel said.
Also on Tuesday, the council amended an agreement with a contractor charged with preparing an environmental impact report for the Tracy Hills development southwest of Tracy.
Tracy Hills, which is already within city limits and will make room for thousands more homes and, according to the city, jobs over the next several decades, has been on the city’s radar for some time. And with the Ellis residential development torpedoed — or at least put on hold for now — by a judicial ruling, Tracy Hills appears to be the next big residential development in the city's pipeline.
The amendment approved last week reduced the scope and cost of the work needed to refine documents associated with the Tracy Hills specific plan, as “The property owners are in the process of refining the land uses, updating approaches to infrastructure systems, and contemporizing urban design and architectural standards for the project,” the staff report says.
A draft environmental impact review on the Tracy Hills specific plan is scheduled to be available to public comment later this year, according to documents attached to the staff report last week.
In an unrelated action at the council meeting, Patricia Hand was appointed to the Tracy Arts Commission after a recommendation from a subcommittee of Councilmen Steve Abercrombie and Robert Rickman.