The developer and owner of the “Piazza at Temple City” plans to submit a new proposal to City Hall this month.
Randy Wang, who is currently in a lawsuit against Temple City and its city officials, has proposed eliminating the residential condominiums in his new plans. In addition, Wang plans to have McDonalds and Fresh and Easy, a grocery store, serve as the lead anchors of the commercial property.
According to City Manager and City Attorney Charles R. Martin, the new plan is “a complete re-write of the Development Agreement.”
Martin added, in his weekly City Manager’s Report on April 9, 2009, that it leaves “out the forfeiture clauses and existing breach sections.”
The existing developer’s agreement mandates that Wang complete the Piazza at Temple City mixed-use project by August 23, 2009.
“We can let the process develop through the Planning Commission,” wrote Martin as one possible action for the City Council to take. The alternative is to “proceed with a settlement conference.”
The City Manager and City Attorney noted that councilman Vincent Yu had expressed support for the alternative action, but in his weekly report on April 16, Martin revealed there may be no need for a settlement conference.
If the previous City Council is found to have violated Government Code 1090, the existing contract with the Piazza developer would automatically be void.
Government Code 1090 is a state conflict-of-interest law that prohibits officials from engaging in contracts in which they have a financial interest.
In September 2008, Randy Wang countersued Temple City, alleging Temple City Mayor Judy Wong, councilman Dave Capra, former councilwoman Cathé Wilson and former city council and state assembly candidate Scott Carwile, of having solicited bribes.
The city of Temple City had previously sued Wang in April 2008, anticipating a breach in the developer’s agreement.
Wang claims he gave Capra, Carwile and Wong $13,000 in cash during the March 2007 city council elections. He also alleges Wilson demanded one of the 52 one-bedroom condominiums.
Capra, Carwile and Wong have all publicly denied the allegations.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office-Public Integrity Division has been investigating the case since last year.
The Piazza at Temple City, formerly known as the “Temple City Galleria” and “Piazza Las Tunas,” once promised 52 one-bedroom condominiums and a large retail center. The project had included a proposal for a banquet facility, a wish the Temple City community has desired for years.
Since its initial approval in 2006, there has been two ground breakings and three different construction management firms in charge of the project. The developer has proposed changes twice before, in 2007 and again in 2008.
The city of Temple City could purchase the 3.7 acre site for $5 million, if Wang fails to complete the Piazza project by the August deadline, assuming the contract remains valid.
Regardless, Temple City has spent approximately $171,600 in legal fees as of April 30, 2009. This figure was revealed by Finance Services Manager Monica Molina in an e-mail to the Temple City Voice.
This article was written by Matthew Wong. It was published in the Temple City Voice on July 17, 2009.