04/08/2013 07:22 pm ET Updated Jun 08, 2013

Santa Clara Boom: With 49er Backing, City Weighs New Santana Row-Like Downtown

SANTA CLARA -- Bolstered by the San Francisco 49ers new stadium and Joe Montana's planned hotel, the city is now eyeing the redevelopment of a massive swath of land that could finally replace the downtown it lost decades ago.

Santa Clara officials on Tuesday will begin reviewing a private development on 230 acres of city-owned land that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars in private financing and bring shops, restaurants, hotels and other entertainment uses across from the new stadium. Some apartments and condos could be included, as well.

Officials want to pave over part of the Santa Clara Golf & Tennis Club and a nearby BMX track and replace it with a Santana Row-like "city center" on a property four times the size of Santana Row. It would also include public plazas and possibly a smaller, 9-hole golf course.

Developer Related California, an affiliate of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross' $15 billion Related Companies, already has the initial backing of the 49ers, Montana and top city leaders.

"This is exactly what we expected would happen after we built the stadium," Mayor Jamie Matthews said Monday, noting officials have been trying in vain to replace Santa Clara's downtown since it was town down in the 1950s and '60s. "It would help us realize the dream of having some downtown center."

But there are concerns over how much of the property can be built on, since the site is on a former landfill, and whether the

developer can squeeze in enough parking. City leaders are also trying to determine whether smaller versions of the golf course and BMX track can be jammed in to the site, or built somewhere else in the city.

The plan would span across two city-owned properties near Tasman Drive and Great America Parkway, across the street from the $1.2 billion stadium scheduled to open in 2014 and adjacent to a hotel, restaurant and bar planned by a group backed by Montana. The city, which currently loses money operating the golf course, would rent out the land to the developer for a profit, though the terms of the deal still need to be worked out.

"Even if there were no stadium at all, this site makes great sense for the location of the development," said Related California President Bill Witte, citing nearby freeways and light rail stops and the lack of a destination-center in the area. "The stadium is kind of icing on the cake."

Montana and the 49ers both released statements Monday praising Related and their plan.

"Our proposed project along with the Related Company's potential development will be great additions to the North of the Bayshore area," Montana said. "We welcome the opportunity to work with them and the city

of Santa Clara to make the area a first-class destination place."

Larry MacNeil, executive vice president of development for the 49ers, said: "The city of Santa Clara selected an excellent partner to explore the best use of the area north of the stadium."

The Santa Clara City Council on Tuesday is expected to begin exclusive negotiations with Related, a process that would last 18 to 30 months. Related would pay for the planning, starting with a $200,000 deposit, and expects to privately pay for the entire development. Both Witte and Matthews predicted funding the project would not be an issue.

It's unclear how much exactly the project would cost or how many square feet would be developed, as Witte said his team still needs to examine the site more closely to determine whether the landfill would prevent them from building on part of the property.

"But we do know that it's a significant landfill," Witte said. "You can develop on landfill, but it generally has to be on a podium or a platform."

He said the entire planning process he could 3 1/2 to four years, and construction would occur in phases, likely taking at least two years per phase.

Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at ___

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