Livermore City Council has unanimously approved an amended and restated Assignment, Development and Loan Agreement (DDLA) with hoteliers at the Davis Presidio Companies to develop the downtown wine hotel.

The deal approved Monday night sets out the conditions for the sale of the city-owned site to Presidio for $ 71,521 as well as the terms of a loan of $ 1,923,750 to acquire a property of approximately 0.77 acres. at 2080 Railroad Ave. to develop a parking lot.

As longtime members of City Council, Mayor Bob Woerner and City Councilor Bob Carling both expressed their enthusiasm during the meeting to move this project forward as they have endured years of delay and community debate. On the question.

“This is the third different board I’ve been on that has addressed this issue and supported it throughout the process,” Carling said. “I am eager to vote yes and to move forward,” he added.

Woerner echoed similar sentiments: “I have been a member of this council for a long time. It’s my 11th year and we’ve been trying to do it for a long time and there have been some hurdles thrown at us and I think it’s time to go, “he said.

The council voted after hearing more than an hour of public commentary from residents, downtown merchants, wine growers and association leaders. While almost all of the speakers said they were in favor of the downtown hotel and finally moving the project forward after years of delay, there were many concerns raised about the parking plans.

The hotel’s initial plans initially called for a 120-space underground parking garage, however, city staff said the construction costs increased during the project’s delay – due to referendum petitions submitted by citizens and of the COVID-19 pandemic – led to the conclusion that an underground parking garage was no longer feasible.

This determination led to the city’s newly approved solution of loaning Presidio $ 1.9 million to purchase land nearby to develop above-ground valet parking.

Save Livermore Downtown spokesman Jean King said during public comments that the referendums did not delay the project. “The 2018 referendum had nothing to do with hotel parking requirements,” she said, adding that “the developer’s decision to continue surface parking preceded the two ballot measures of 2019 “.

“The reality is that the hotel developer wants above ground parking instead of underground parking because it would save them millions of dollars,” she continued.

She also urged the council not to endorse the DDLA in its comments, as it said the property they planned to use for parking is inadequate based on the specific downtown plan, which requires residents to Commercial uses in downtown park offsite in downtown. “2080 Railroad is not in the city center,” she said.

Later in the meeting, City Manager Marc Roberts confirmed that the parking plan meets the requirements of the specific downtown plan. “The question was raised as to where the valet parking actually is and the item that was discussed was where the car is picked up, so in the case of valet parking this is where the pickup point is it’s in your downtown area, ”said Roberts.

A number of other speakers during the meeting said that the hotel parking lot on a side of the street separate from the hotel building would create traffic jams on Railroad Avenue and be an inconvenience for customers of hotel who could not easily access their vehicles. Some speakers mentioned automated parking as an alternative that would not take up as much space as traditional parking.

Other speakers also questioned the need for the city to provide a loan to Presidio to build the parking lot, arguing that the company should be able to afford to buy the land with its own funds.

The terms of the loan include an interest rate of 3.5%, which reflects an agreement to lease the plot to the city for use as an overflow parking lot while the new L Street parking lot is under construction, according to the presentation. Staff.

Those who spoke in favor of approving the DDLA deal emphasized in their comments that the loan would be repaid to the city with interest within three years and therefore would be of real benefit to the city.

Supporters of the plan have also expressed the need to move forward with the hotel project as a crucial step to finally complete the ongoing downtown revitalization plan.

Former mayor John Marchand criticized opponents of the project in his comments, calling the opposition tactics used to slow its progress “bad theater”.

He added: “This is to be expected, as it is orchestrated by the management of the Bankhead Theater. Quite simply, the reason for their opposition is the wine country hotel next to the Bankhead. They hope that if they can manage to Eliminate the parking lot, they will be able to eliminate the hotel – a hotel that has been supported by more than two-thirds of Livermore voters in measure P. “

In addition to surface parking, plans for the completed four-story hotel include between 125 and 135 guest rooms with an approximately 3,300 square foot bar / lounge, 1,500 to 2,000 square foot meeting space, a rooftop terrace, fitness center, outdoor pool, and open courtyard and patio.

According to the current schedule of city staff, the next steps include the review by the Planning Commission and City Council of the site plan and design of the hotel, which will take place in March and April of this year, respectively. The transfer of ownership from the city to Presidio will also take place in April. Construction would begin no later than May 2024 and the hotel opening would be no later than December 2025.

A full recording of Monday night’s meeting is available here.