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Sacramento developer David Taylor and a prominent Colorado sports facility developer have been pegged as the top contenders in an effort to build the city a new downtown arena.
Mayor Kevin Johnson's arena task force is recommending city officials work with Taylor and ICON Venue Group to determine if building a sports and entertainment center is feasible now and if they're the right team for the project.
In an analysis released Friday, the task force encouraged the city to give the ICON-Taylor team 90 days to study the viability of such a project and to develop a proposal and financing plan. The team was handpicked by Johnson after another team, which then included Taylor, failed to produce a viable project on schedule last year.
Without a detailed proposal for the task force to consider, the ICON-Taylor team's first-place ranking to build an arena in the downtown railyards was based on its experience and credibility. The team's partnership with the historic railyards' new owner, Inland American Real Estate Trust, was also a factor in the selection, according to the analysis.
"While the lack of a development plan could be considered non-responsive in some circumstances, the (ICON-Taylor) team warrants unique consideration owing to its extensive experience and track record, locally, nationally and globally, in the development of major projects, including events centers, under challenging circumstances," the task force said in its analysis.
Task force co-chair Chris Lehane is scheduled to present the analysis to the Sacramento City Council at its Tuesday night meeting.
The task force is recommending the city manager's office take up to 120 days to determine if the team's proposal demonstrates "a real promise of feasibility" and if the Sacramento Kings owners, the Maloofs, or the NBA will commit to stay in Sacramento and work on an acceptable development agreement.
The task force also recommends the City Council consider entering an exclusive negotiating period with the developers to hammer out a final agreement on the project.
Four teams met the task force's Dec. 30 deadline to submit proposals or indicate interest in developing an arena to replace the Kings' current home, Arco Arena, in Natomas.
Detailed proposals were submitted by the Convergence Team, led by Sacramento developer Gerry Kamilos, and Natomas Entertainment Sports Center Partners, led by Mike Corrick of Nacht & Lewis Architects and Rick Millitello, general manager and executive vice president of Skanska USA Building Inc. of Oakland.
Providing proposals with detailed funding plans seemed to work against them, as the task force used those details to rank the teams lower in the analysis.
Natomas ESC Partners, which was ranked fourth, expressed a concern about how a federal moratorium on development in Natomas might affect their proposal during the task force's fact-finding meetings with development teams last week.
The task force said the proposal doesn’t seem to be in the city’s or region’s best interest economically, when compared to building an arena integrated with downtown's future regional transit center. Also, redevelopment of the Arco Arena site should work without a new arena, the task force said.
The Convergence Team, which won the first shot at developing an arena last year, has simplified its proposal, yet its plan remains the most complex.
A California Exposition and State Fair manager told task force members that Cal Expo officials are reluctant to consider even a scaled-down plan to privately develop part of the existing state fair site to help fund a downtown arena.
"The project’s inherent complications likely render it feasible in theory only," the task force said in its analysis.
The CORE team was ranked second by the task force. The team – led by former arena task force member and president of McClellan Park, Larry Kelley, and entrepreneur Ali Mackani – has made a determination of project viability its priority, like the ICON-Taylor team.
The team includes experienced local players such as Kelley, a notable developer, and real estate attorney Mike Kvarme, another former task force member. But the team is lacking a sports facility developer with ICON's expertise, according to the analysis.
The task force recommends the City Council be asked in 90 to 120 days – late April or late May – whether to enter an exclusive negotiating period with the developers.
On Tuesday, the City Council could make a decision to proceed with one or more of the development teams. Because the team's proposals varied so much in terms of detail, city staff members have outlined a set of submission requirements they'd like the team or teams to turn into the city within 90 days. A preliminary financial plan and a signed concurrence agreement with the Kings are among the requirements.
City staff would then take 60 days to review the proposal or proposals, prepare a staff report and return to the council, possibly in July, for consideration of an exclusive negotiating period, said Assistant City Manager John Dangberg.