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Richmond: Point Molate to be sold for $400 to Native American tribe after 270-acre development plan fizzles

A years-long, million-dollar effort to develop Richmond’s Point Molate has unraveled, and hundreds of acres of prime Bay Area shoreline property now may be sold for a bargain $400 to the Native American tribe that once wanted to build a mega casino there.

It’s unclear what the Guidiville Rancheria of California tribe and its developer, Upstream Point Molate, LLC, will do with the land. Their attorney could not be reached for comment.

The envisioned development was officially killed when the Richmond City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday against proceeding with a planned $45 million sale of the land to Winehaven Legacy LLC. Mayor Tom Butt and Councilmember Nathaniel Bates dissented. Councilmember Demnlus Johnson was absent.

Winehaven had proposed building more than 1,450 homes and 400,000 square feet of commercial space on a 270-acre section of Point Molate.

After a previous City Council approved the development in September 2020, the current council majority said it wasn’t convinced Winehaven could finance the entire project without counting on city funding.

In backing off from the sale, the city will lose the $22.5 million it would have reaped as its cut of the land transfer. The arrangement stemmed from a federal settlement agreement reached after the tribe sued Richmond for rejecting its casino project years ago. The court upheld the council’s action but forged a settlement that required the city to evenly split profits from any land sale with the tribe and its developer.

And now the Guidiville Rancheria of California tribe could take over Point Molate’s developable land after Saturday by paying the city $400. The tribe will have five years to decide what — if anything — to build on the bayside property.

While Richmond could still reap 50% of the proceeds if the tribe later sells the property, city officials can only speculate about whether Point Molate will be developed as envisioned by Winehaven, turned into a wildlife refuge or even host a mega-casino like the one rejected in 2011.

Interim City Attorney Dave Aleshire told the council one thing is certain — Richmond will find itself back in court.

“I think it’s too bad,” Aleshire said, adding that Upstream has already threatened to sue Richmond to recoup the $22.5 million it lost out on because of the scrapped sale to Winehaven.

“Despite all the history here, that everybody doubts each other, your staff worked hard to try and get things together so that you would have a reasonable opportunity to make this decision,” Aleshire said. “I think that the items that are missing are critical pieces to the equation.”

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