Cow Palace plans set up a showdown

A plan to develop the Cow Palace’s 13-acre parking lot moved forward Monday in what officials said is a move to prevent a “land grab” by Daly City.

The Cow Palace Board of Directors unanimously voted to issue a request for proposals from developers to transform the lot into a retail hub. The vote comes as a response to state Sen. Leland Yee’s recent bill that would allow Daly City to buy the entire Cow Palace property and possibly raze the old venue, Cow Palace officials said.

The board hopes that developing the site would provide the extra revenue needed to keep the Cow Palace, a home to the Grand National Rodeo show that starts next week, afloat and in the state’s hands. The arena is currently managed by the state Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Fairs and Expositions. The event center’s revenues have been declining since 2001 and last year it lost $662,389, according to data from the DFA.

“The board wants to go forward in developing this property,” board chairman Henry Keuchler said.

The board expects to review proposals this summer and hopes to enter into a 60-year lease with a developer. Once the lot is overhauled, revenue from the site would be used to seismically retrofit the arena. Cow Palace CEO Walter Haub has said the cost could be anywhere from $7 million to $45 million.

The board began looking for a developer after negotiations with Daly City failed to produce a plan that would build a grocery store on the parking lot. Both parties have been blaming each other for the failure.

“It’s unfortunate that after all these months of negotiations that would have resulted in a collaborative project, it could not be achieved,” said Patricia Martel, city manager for Daly City.

Daly City turned to Yee for help in December to put the entire 67-acre property up for development to revitalize the Bayshore neighborhood with more housing, a commercial center and a school. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will vote today on whether to support Yee’s bill.

Although the bill’s approval is expected later this spring, Yee said he would support the board if it came up with a successful alternative to his bill.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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