We applaud Dr. Jeff Ritterman’s thoughtful comments in his May 27 commentary on Campus Bay and look forward to working with people in Richmond as we strive to make Campus Bay a safe, vibrant part of the community.
We would like to respond to several points made in the letter. First, there is one important fact missing. Cherokee Investment Partners teamed with Simeon Commercial Properties to acquire the Campus Bay property from Zeneca in 2002, after cleanup actions had been completed under Zeneca’s ownership. Whatever issues may have been created those cleanup efforts have been used to unfairly tarnish Cherokee and Simeon.
Cherokee and Simeon purchased Campus Bay based on the condition of the property represented by Zeneca and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. At the time, we believed most of the necessary cleanup was complete or could be completed without significant delay. We were not fully aware of the level of animosity or distrust created by the cleanup and the oversight provided. Now we are working with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to do whatever it takes to make certain the property is safe for redevelopment.
Cherokee has a reputation as a national leader in brownfield cleanup and redevelopment, and we still hope for a collaborative relationship with everyone in the community who shares our dedication to safety. Over the past 15 years, we have purchased over 330 properties – and in every single case where an environmental cleanup was required, we met or exceeded the local environmental and safety standards.
We’re concerned about the future of the property because it has become a political football. We understand that certain groups are focused on the cleanup of Campus Bay and other contaminated industrial sites. There should be no controversy over this issue, because everyone agrees that it must be done right. We stand with everyone in the Richmond community who wants Campus Bay to be safe, and we are devoted to making that happen.
Some people want to see the property clean, safe, and locked away forever. Yet, it is our experience that communities like Richmond greatly benefit from turning blighted properties into a safe redevelopment. Opportunities like the safe redevelopment at Campus Bay can provide Richmond with jobs, housing, and tax revenue for local schools, roads, and economic growth.
There are always going to be concerns about environmental cleanup, especially when it comes to properties that endured almost 100 years of industrial manufacturing and neglect. The important thing to focus on is the cleanup itself and the end goal – a safe property that can be developed to benefit the entire community.
Richmond needs a clean and safe Campus Bay, and that’s Cherokee’s commitment.
Dwight Stenseth and Doug Mosteller work for Cherokee Investment Partners.