FREMONT (KPIX) – A bay area developer has pulled out of a controversial housing project at Ohlone College in Fremont, leaving the school wondering what it will, or can do with its property.
Ohlone College owns 15 acres of open land alongside Mission Boulevard. The district partnered with Foster City-based developer, SteelWave, LLC to design “The Village at Mission Walk,” a 257-unit housing and commercial development.
Ohlone was excited about the project.
“We thought it was a beautiful project,” said college President and District Superintendent, Dr. Gari Browning. “Yes, absolutely.”
The district planned to lease the land to SteelWave. It would create more housing near the college and provide a steady stream of income for an institution facing a huge money shortfall in about 2 years.
“It’s about $5.4 million,” Dr. Browning said, “almost 11 percent of our budget.”
But there is one problem. Almost no one in this quiet neighborhood wants the new houses and that’s because of what Mission Boulevard looks like at 4 p.m. Cars are lined up as far as the eye can see, many of them using the street as a shortcut off of crowded I-680.
“It’ll take, like, 25 minutes to get from here to the freeway and it’s pretty close, like, within a mile probably,” said Bijan Sepehri, whose father owns a deli on Mission Blvd.
So saying you want to add another 250 homes are fighting words to those who live and work in the area.
It’s a fight the developer didn’t want and SteelWave has officially cancelled the project.
“It’s bad enough without it,” said Ohlone student Sarah Herrera. “I couldn’t imagine people coming in and out…like, I would never be able to get to school!”
“I live here for 30 years,” said neighbor Adam Chou. “I never change since I move out here. I don’t want to see things change too much, too rapidly.”
City officials weren’t keen on the project, either. They would eventually like to turn Mission Boulevard into a downtown area, although how that wouldn’t worsen traffic, no one can say right now. They only know they didn’t want the SteelWave project. So, it’s back to the drawing board for Ohlone College.
At this point the college really doesn’t know what it can do with its property. Nothing could be built there that wouldn’t increase traffic and raise the ire of the community.
But Ohlone is still facing that huge deficit and the superintendent says they are looking into the possibility of a parcel tax to raise the money they need.