Developer signs contract prior to city OK
An hour before Tuesday's Yuma City Council work session began, a California developer went out on a limb and signed a construction contract with a local Yuma firm to begin building the first of five planned shopkeeper units in Yuma's downtown area.
Craig C. Clark is apparently counting on the council to approve at its regular council meeting tonight his second request for a time extension on the project, which the council first approved in 2001.
Tonight's meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at Yuma City Hall, One City Plaza.
The shopkeepers are popular building styles in some areas of California. They combine working and living quarters on different floors of the same building. Two-car garages will be included on the lower level of the buildings.
The freestanding units are part of the city's plan to inject more year-round activity in the downtown area.
At Tuesday's work session, Councilman Al Krieger asked Clark when he signed the contract to proceed with construction.
"About an hour ago," Clark replied.
Krieger asked what would happen if the city doesn't grant Clark's extension. Krieger was told that Clark is at risk and not the city.
"The city is under no legal obligation," said Charles Flynn, the city's riverfront development manager and the man who has shepherded the project through its various configurations.
"This is the last extension," Flynn said. "The intent of the development agreement was to foster development and see things built."
Councilman Bobby Brooks asked what would happen if the council granted the extension and Clark finished three of the shopkeepers on time but was a "few months shy" of finishing the last two.
Flynn said that in that case, because Clark would have made a good-faith effort to get the majority of the units done, he would probably ask for a minor month or two extension to finish the last two.
Flynn said the project has been difficult to get started because it's so unusual for Yuma.
"We knew it was a speculative venture to try to promote," Flynn said. But he added that he thought it was worth the risk because if it's successful, it will lead to other downtown projects.
Flynn also said he must shoulder the blame for some of the delay in the project. When Clark asked for his first time extension, Flynn suggested that in exchange, Clark be required to build five units instead of the original three. Flynn said he didn't realize at the time that that would trigger the city's lengthy subdivision process, which Clark has now completed.
This time, in exchange for another time extension, Clark must agree to sink $1 million of his own money into the project instead of $500,000 and he must meet an "aggressive" construction schedule, Flynn explained.
Clark must finish the first shopkeeper by August, have two additional units done by November and have all five done by March 2005. Failure to meet these benchmarks will result in the property reverting back to the city.