For years, Morgan Hill residents have had to do the majority of their shopping in neighboring communities to the north or south—San Jose or Gilroy. Little did they know that behind the scenes, Borelli Investment Company was quietly looking for a way to put together a land transaction that would lead to the largest retail project in Morgan Hill’s history.
In 1976, Ralph Borelli began talking to a group of landowners, including the Guglielmo family of the winery that bears its name, about selling their land for development. Various obstacles arose—complications due to land being passed from one generation to another, entitlement issues, and zoning changes—and nothing happened. At one time or another, other developers tried to build homes and then office buildings, but each time, failed negotiations and litigation caused the land to remain barren.
Then, not quite three years ago, Borelli saw another opportunity. Negotiations began again, with J.P. DiNapoli Companies, Inc. and Browman Development Company laying plans for a contemporary 650,000 square foot, 66-acre retail center anchored by a Super Target store. After nearly three decades of behind-the-scenes spadework, Borelli was finally able to bring together the patchwork of parcels to complete the land transaction and pave the way for construction to begin.
“One parcel had been owned by the Guglielmo family for more than 80 years,” said Borelli. “Another parcel had multiple owners with varying interests and concerns. Finding the right terms to ensure the transaction was acceptable to all the landowners and the developers, and would also meet the city’s general plan provisions, was not easy.”
Perfect Fit for Morgan Hill
The new shopping center will feature retail businesses that will minimize competition with Morgan Hill’s revitalized downtown. Its contemporary, art deco design will also set it apart from the traditional indoor mall or “big box” retail centers surrounded by acres of concrete and asphalt. The buildings will be very colorful, washed in bright earth tones that fit well with the surrounding hills and valley floor. Shoppers will enter off Cochrane Road by driving up a main boulevard that runs between the buildings. The buildings will also be connected by pedestrian walkways with courtyard-like gathering places.
In addition to the 127,000 square foot Target, major anchor tenants signed for the center include Petco, Staples, and Cost Plus World Market. Shoppers can also expect a choice of national restaurant chains. The center is scheduled to open in the summer of 2007.
“We wanted to bring the South Valley something unique,” said John B. DiNapoli, vice president of JP DiNapoli Companies. “This center will offer South Valley residents a shopping experience they can’t find elsewhere.”
Persistence Pays Off
The 30-year effort to secure a deal was the longest of Ralph Borelli’s career, which has been marked by numerous awards for his ability to complete complicated land transactions.
“Sometimes, it just takes time,” commented Borelli. “Very few land transactions in Silicon Valley are simple any more. Fortunately, our firm has the skills and experience to keep working on a transaction like this and help make a much needed shopping center a reality.”