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Ink Almost Dry on Convention Center Operator Contract, City Begins Vision for El Camino

A Philadelphia-based company will likely become the new manager of the Santa Clara Convention Center.

The Santa Clara City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to allow City Manager Deanna Santana to authorize agreements with Global Spectrum L.P., dba Spectra Venue Management. An NBC Universal subsidiary, Spectrum got the nod after edging out the only other bidder, SMG, in a two-phase selection process.

While both candidates were strong, Mark Giovannetti, purchasing manager for the City, said Spectra’s approach was more specific to Santa Clara and less “generic” and “corporate.”

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SMG had some advantages over Spectra, including a $150,000-a-year operating fee as opposed to Spectra’s $165,000 per year and a proposal to also manager the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

However, Spectra’s advertising budget and infrastructure investments, which total $975,000 yearly and $2 million respectively, were more substantial than SMG’s, which amounted to a one-time $70,000 advertising budget and $1.2 million in capital improvements.

Spectra could receive both quantitative and qualitative bonuses based on performance. The total yearly compensation may not exceed $400,000.

Dave Anderson, senior vice president for convention centers with Spectra, was frank in saying the Convention Center needed a major face-lift, saying it had “no wow factor” and did “an injustice” to the City.

“You can drive by the Santa Clara Convention Center and miss it in a flash,” he said. “This building should hum. It should be a testing ground for technology in the world. If I could get approval, I would be there tomorrow with a paint bucket.”

Instead, Anderson said, the Convention Center needs to be an “iconic, clean flexible space.”

Ruth Shikada, assistant city manager, said incorporating recommendations from the TAP audit, having clear benchmarks for success and reporting that delivers results are all priorities.

Although Spectra would typically like to see 90 days to transition into becoming the new operator, it will have to do so in 21 days.

Todd Glickman, executive vice president at Spectra, said that transition is usually for the benefit of the employees. He has done it in as little as 10 days, and he said it has always gone smoothly.

Glickman touted his company’s relationship with labor unions, saying that “people are our resources.” He said Spectra typically retains roughly 90 percent of employees when it assumes control of managing a convention center.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor called the process “professional,” adding it was something the Council “hadn’t seen before,” — a dig at the Chamber of Commerce, who had previously managed the Convention Center.

 

Study Session Focuses On Mariani Project

A study session regarding the El Camino Real Specific Plan devolved into a discussion about the Mariani Villas development, a high-density mixed-use development with a hotel on-site. The topic has been contentious since discussions began, with neighbors complaining about the hotel’s 6-story height.

Andrew Crabtree, community development director, said the plan would increase the amount of zoning designations from two to three.

Regional commercial will require at least 20 percent commercial space with 50 to 100 dwelling units per acre; community mixed use will not require commercial and host between 35 and 65 dwelling units per acre; finally, medium density residential will be primary residential but allow for some commercial with 15 to 35 swelling units per acre.

One of the biggest proposed changes is the elimination of street parking to widen bike lanes. Many had safety concerns for cyclists.

“I wouldn’t ride a bike down El Camino if you paid me,” said Nancy Biagini, a long-time Santa Clara resident.

Although many chose to speak about the Mariani project, both in support and opposition, Crabtree said each development would still need to come before the Council for consideration.

 

City Subsidizes BBQ Championship, Inks New Agreements

The Council voted unanimously to extend the contract of Jones Lang LaSalle Americas Inc., paying the company another $175,000 for “consulting services” for the Convention Center and Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

Another budget item on the consent calendar was a $600,000 appropriation to California Sports Center for gymnastics instruction.

The Rotary Club also got a windfall when the Council opted to subsidize its yearly barbecue championship for the next 5 years to the tune of $36,000 and $40,000.

 

City Takes Measures to Preserve Streets, Defers Gateway Crossings

In an effort to maintain the condition of Santa Clara’s roads, another ordinance will prohibit excavation on newly paved streets for 5 years and on micro-surfaced streets for 3 years.

Meanwhile, the Gateway Crossings project, a 1,600-apartment housing complex located at 1205 Coleman Ave., saw another delay in the process to rezone it. The Council delayed discussion of the project until its March 26 meeting.

The Council meets again Tuesday, Feb. 19 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.

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