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Soon, the city council will decide on whether to enter into an agreement with Gerding Edlen Development for exclusive negotiations on a new downtown civic center. Jeff Graham, vice president of redevelopment for CCDC, likens the decision not to a marriage, but to dating; in his words, “to see if a relationship down the road is feasible.”

On May 21 at the Serra Mesa Library, Graham and Bob Hunt — senior vice president for Jones Lang LaSalle, the financial analysts for the project — presented their reasons why the City should commit to a relationship with the Oregon-based developer.

Upon walking into a near-empty library and walking past Graham and Hunt in front of a camera during an interview administered by other CCDC employees, another analogy came to mind: that of a creepy, former lover trying to win back a hardened and unwavering ex.

After recent disputes over the cost-analysis used for the civic center complex by real estate lease consultants, Irving Hughes, and from councilmember Carl DeMaio, CCDC officials are doing their best to clear the air and win over the residents of San Diego. Yet, judging by the turnout at the Serra Mesa Library, those residents aren’t ready to make up yet.

Up until a minute or two before the meeting started, the only ones in the room were this correspondent, a few nicely dressed employees from CCDC and Jones Lang LaSalle, and two audio-visual technicians dressed in black.

The few people in attendance were handed color copies of the PowerPoint presentation. Large posterboards with images of the new civic center were propped up on easels in the back of the room, and a video camera was positioned next to the empty sears to film the presentation.

Seven alternatives with 10-, 15-, and 50-year cost analyses were offered. Also presented were financing options for each of those alternatives and a cost analysis for the do-nothing, “hold steady,” option. A list of non-development alternatives was shown as well.

“I think what many people don’t understand is doing nothing is not free,” said Graham before explaining that if nothing is done the City will dole out approximately $14 million for next year and $18 million by 2014 for upkeep of the current facility.

“The reality is there isn’t an option,” said Hunt. “You have a building that’s almost uninhabitable. Of all the analyses, this is the cheapest solution, certainly over 15 [years] and 50, and arguably over 10. If you don’t do it, it’s going to cost you a lot more in the long run. You’re going to have to spend it one way or another.”

For more information, go to the CCDC website.

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