The Luther Apartments Developer Revealed!

One of the biggest mysteries of the district's Luther apartments plan has been: Which developer was backing the proposal to build apartments on the Luther Elementary School site? Was it predetermined WHO was going to build apartments at Luther Elementary School, prior to any public discussion or input?

After months of persistent requests for public records, the Cupertino Union School District finally released some communications with the developer they were negotiating with.

The emails confirm that the District leadership and developer Sand Hill Property management were in discussions regarding apartments at Luther at least since July 2015, well before the 
October 2015 closed sessions appeared on public agendas and the Dec 8th press release.

Sand Hill Property (SHP) is the same developer behind the monstrous 'Hills at Vallco' 2M sq ft office+800 units residential project which is widely opposed by Cupertino residents and being promoted on glossy flyers by the CUSD Superintendent Gudalewicz and CUSD Board member Phyllis Vogel.






Solid evidence provides this timeline of events:

In July 2015, Nandy Kumar, Sand Hill Property partner, states to the Superintendent that he is the contact on the project, and begins discussing a “land lease for a long time” and the District’s ability to “take all the apartments as master lease.” Also involved in the negotiations is Sandra James, a former Cupertino mayor turned PR consultant for developer Sand Hill Property and cement factory Lehigh, and Cupertino Chamber of Commerce board member, and Peter Pau – founder of Sand Hill Property. These negotiations occurred PRIOR to any public disclosure of negotiations involving the school property.


August 2nd – Nandy Kumar informs Superintendent Wendy Gudalewicz and Chris Jew that Peter Pau, Sand Hill Property founder, would like to meet to discuss “details with some cost budget lease period.”


August 3rdNandy Kumar suggests that CUSD staff (Chris Jew) go to the City of Santa Clara and “feel them out” about “this project, as if it is a district project– clearly his sentiment was there would be more questions raised if it became known that developer Sand Hill Property was involved!

He also states that Sand Hill Property has “ex Santa Clara planning staff now working for us” and he can go help “feel the City”. He may have been referring to Sand Hill’s Director of Planning and Entitlement, Steve Lynch, a former City of Santa Clara Planning Manager.

 

August 6th – Ex-Cupertino mayor Sandra James of Sand Hill Property confirms with Superintendent Gudalawicz about holding talks regarding “housing on the old Luther site.” 

September 21stChris Jew, Chief Business Officer of CUSD, follows Nandy Kumar's advice and contacts former Santa Clara City Manager Julio Fuentes to tell him they have thoughts about using the Luther site “differently” and want to meet to discuss. A meeting is scheduled for Oct. 1st with Superintendent Gudalewicz, Chris Jew, and City staff. It would be nice to know what was discussed behind those closed doors!


By Jan 28th, Chris Jew contacts Lori Raineri of Government Financial Strategies Inc. (GFSI) about being a consultant on the project; Raineri responds with a happy face signature. This is prior to any board approval of hiring a consultant.


On Feb 5th, Superintendent Gudalewicz states that she was thinking of building apartments at Luther sometime in 2017-2018. This, even though publicly she claimed the idea was just a “concept” with no set plans.

 

The evidence shows that the district leadership was colluding with a developer, Sand Hill Properties, to build apartments at the Luther school site well before any public input. The outcome was to be predetermined before any public meeting or RFQ was issued. Was the board complicit, or just asleep at the wheel, while the Superintendent and developer Sand Hill Properties hatched this plan? 




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