Committee Punts on 64 Rainey Street

City Council will likely take up the Rainey Street project debate in early August

It appears City Council will have to consider the simmering 64 Rainey Street dispute without help from its Open Space, Environment, and Sustain­a­bil­ity Com­mit­tee. On June 24, after lengthy public testimony, the committee (chaired by District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool) declined to make any recommendation concerning the agreement proposed between the board of the Mexican American Cultural Center and development firm Sackman Enter­prises. Sackman is planning construction of a residential tower at 70 Rainey Street, and is asking to use 64 Rainey (currently a vacant part of the future MACC complex) as a staging area for two years, in return for $400,000, the creation and maintenance of the tract as a "pocket park," and several more concessions. The MACC board negotiated the agreement with Sackman and would maintain control over the design and contents of the park – but some neighborhood advocates insist that the deal is too weak and asked the committee to reject it.

C.J. Sackman told the committee that the company could use a different staging area, but it would require obstructing Rainey Street traffic, and cause other problems during the construction period. The company plans to break ground by Oct. 1, and Sackman said to do so he needs to have his city permits in order by mid-August – meaning the next regular Council meeting (Aug. 6) will likely be a staging area for more arguments over the proposed agreement.

The MACC advisory board, led by Chair David Car­roll, argues not only that the proposed deal is beneficial to the Center (including a new master plan and additional overflow parking, a persistent MACC problem), but that the MACC will both gather public input and supervise the design and maintenance of the future parkland (to be funded by Sackman), which could include a historical center and other amenities. But the opponents, wary of additional commercial encroachments on what was once a historical Hispanic neighborhood, charge that Sackman is rushing the decision to get its way, and is more interested in amenities for future condo-dwellers than for the neighborhood or the Hispanic community. Expect to hear the arguments rehashed Aug. 6, in Council chambers.

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