My legal challenge to the sale of Terminal 1 was served this week on both the City of Richmond and Terminal One Development LLC (See Court Order Sought to Invalidate Sale of Terminal 1, January 20, 2023). We’ll see what happens.
There is another component of this mismanaged disaster that should be brought to light. Neither the RPA-controlled City Council nor the incompetent and corrupt city attorney bothered to check out the guy they sold Terminal 1 to for $500,000.
The City’s incompetent real estate consultant, Land Econ Group, performed a “fiscal analysis” of the project but never looked at the buyer’s financial strength, development history, or capacity to complete the project. The City of Richmond never asked for, and Zhenwu Wu never provided a financial statement, much less an audited financial statement.
The buyer of record is “Terminal One Development LLC,” essentially Zhenwu Wu, a Chinese national living near Atlanta Georgia. All the sales documents and contracts are signed by “Zhenwu Wu, Manager, Terminal One Development LLC, a Delaware limited liability company.”
In the California Secretary of State filing for Terminal One Development LLC, Zhenwu Wu is listed as the manager.
Manta shows an address for Terminal One Development LLC at 1160 Brickyard Cove Road but the phone is disconnected.
Terminal One Development, LLC, once had a business license in Richmond, but it expired last year and has not been renewed.
For years, City staff has been dealing almost solely with Laconia, which was simply retaine by Wu to manage the project.
The 2016 San Francisco Business Times article below states:
Developer Terminal One LLC is controlled by Chinese developer Zhenwu Wu and his property management company Suzhou Weibang Property Management LLC. Wu and his company entered into a contract with Laconica Development LLC, an East Bay developer, to manage the project because of Wu’s limited English proficiency, said Bob Kagan, senior vice president at Laconia. “Mr. Wu is a very accomplished developer in Suzhou,” said Kagan. “He has developed extensively there.”
So where is the money, and who has it? An Internet search on Zhenwu Wu indicates he has only one asset, a $700,000 house in Duluth GA with a tax lien on it. Does Terminal One Development LLC have any assets, and if so, how much?
Who actually owns or controls the assets of Terminal One Development LLC?
Suzhou Weibang Property Management LLC, Wu’s property management company, has been suspended (and reinstated) in Georgia several times for failing to file annual statements – not a good sign for a professional business.
I recall that City Council members pejoratively described Winehaven Legacy LLC as a “shell company” with no assets. What do we really know about Zhenwu Wu and Terminal One Development LLC?
In response to my initial inquiries about this, City Attorney Dave Aleshire wrote:
I did not look into this—I assumed the City did when it originally picked Terminal 1 in 2013. By your email I’m assuming Shasa or Lina can pull up what the City has.
From comments made over the last several months about Mr Wu it appeared to me that he was an investor in the project and had provided some amount of funding. In the last several weeks in setting up the documents we set up the documents for Paul Menzies of Terminal One Development—we were then told that Mr Wu would sign and he was flying in from Atlanta to execute. Per the article below, I was told that his English was bad and they needed an interpreter. The day he was here on Friday, they spent a lot of time with him evidently bringing him up to speed on the transaction.
I have forwarded your email below to Mr Menzies and asked for his response as to the structure and ownership—I’ve also asked as to the equity they have in the project.
In his further defense, Aleshire wrote:
You all picked these people to be your developer years ago. I was given the job of documenting the deal with them before the Surplus Land Act expired. I didn’t pick your financial advisor or anyone else. I did the job I was assigned—and I’m not sure anyone else could have. You were not happy about the project but you did not raise this issue.
I didn’t pick SunCal or Winehaven, I didn’t pick Miraflores or 12th Macdonald developers, I didn’t pick the Riggers developer, or Richmond Grown. I saw shortcomings in the Richmond Grown deal and raised them and then stepped away from that deal because the council was stuck on that developer—and now that has fallen apart. Are you saying that when I became City Atty it was my task to go through the bonafides of all the developers you had in all your deals? I can only imagine that had I thought to do that how you would have thrown that into your claim that I make work to enrich myself. One can’t win with you because it can be spun how you want. It is assumed that the Council had a process for picking their developers, and is satisfied with who they have, and it is not for a new attorney to come in and question the legitimacy of all the people the Council has selected. That would be the atty stepping our of their role, which you accuse me of—but in fact I make sure to get direction from the council for my activities.
Certainly had you asked me to do those things, I would have.
Chinese developer plots 330 units at prime East Bay shoreline site
By Julian Mark – Intern, San Francisco Business Times
Feb 17, 2016
A rendering of the Terminal One project, which will include 308 condos and 26 townhouses, as well as the development of 1.9-acre waterfront park, and preservation of the Terminal One wharf.
A long-awaited 334-unit development proposed for the Point Richmond shoreline is starting to take shape.
The project, called Terminal One and being built by Chinese developer Terminal One LLC, includes 308 condos and 26 townhouses, as well as the development of 1.9-acre waterfront park, and preservation of the Terminal One wharf. It is one of the last shoreline properties on the San Francisco Bay available for development.
The site, at 1500 Dornan Drive, was recently approved by the City of Richmond's Design Review Board after a long series meetings with the community and now seeks approvals from the Planning Commission and the Richmond City Council. The approval process is expected to be complete in April or May, with no estimated completion date.
The project comprises five buildings and 26 two and three story townhouses. The buildings will include mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom condos.
The master plan, which was released in January, outlines the project’s numerous amenities, including a fitness pavilion, a dog walk, and gardens. It will also offer a wharf with boardwalk gardens, picnic pavilions, elevated viewing decks, and an informal amphitheater and playground. The plan also extends the Bay Trail.
The 13.8-acre site is city-owned and subject to a “land disposition agreement” between the city and Terminal One LLC. The land will be turned over to the developer for $10 million once the project is built to the standards of the agreement.
Developer Terminal One LLC is controlled by Chinese developer Zhenwu Wu and his property management company Suzhou Weibang Property Management LLC.
Wu and his company entered into a contract with Laconica Development LLC, an East Bay developer, to manage the project because of Wu’s limited English proficiency, said Bob Kagan, senior vice president at Laconia.
“Mr. Wu is a very accomplished developer in Suzhou,” said Kagan. “He has developed extensively there.”
Kagan said Wu visited the project site about a year and a half ago.
“He liked the property, so he found us and we entered into agreement to do it,” Kagan said.
In October 2013, Richmond officials met with Wu in Suzhou during a 15-day tour of China, Richmond Confidential reported.
The Terminal One development has been in the works since 2003. In 2007, luxury home developer Toll Brothers received approval from the city to build 258 units, but withdrew the plan for the site during the recession.
Paul Menzies, CEO of Laconia Development.
TODD JOHNSON | SAN FRANCISCO BUSINESS TIMES
Richmond’s shoreline housing project breaks through lawsuit to move ahead
Richmond’s largest residential development in more than a decade is on track to break ground.
The 316-unit project, located at 1500 Dornan Drive, includes 295 condominiums and 21 single-family homes. The proposal also includes the development of a waterfront park. Along the shoreline, the site was formerly a bustling shipping hub. Now, the 13.3 acre site is dotted with warehouses abutting the Richmond Yacht Club.
Once named Terminal One, the project is now dubbed Latitude.
“There aren’t many sites in the Bay where you have such a large canvas, where you can do bigger projects,” said Paul Menzies, CEO of Laconia Development. “Usually it’s all little projects.”
Walnut Creek-based Laconia Development is spearheading the project on behalf of Chinese real estate company Suzhou Weibang Properties LLC, which bought the land from the city in 2016. Located an hour west of Shanghai, Suzhou is Richmond’s “sister city” in China, meaning that both local governments promote cultural and commercial ties with one another.
The project has long been in the works. It was initially proposed in 2015, but faced community opposition. Five neighborhood residents filed a lawsuit against the city to delay the project in 2016, Richmond Confidential reported, alleging the project would “lead to traffic congestion, potential exposure to hazardous chemicals, block bay views and alter wind patterns for the sailing community.”
The lawsuit was settled a few months after it was filed.
“You can’t develop in the Bay Area without opposition,” Menzies said.
Currently, the project has all of its entitlements. But Laconia is now evaluating how to clean up a small section of water contamination. The project is also in its financing phase, and Laconia is working on putting together a contract with a general contractor.
Zhenwu Wu, head of Suzhou Weibang, wanted to purchase the land for the project after Richmond city officials asked him to look at potential development opportunities in the city, Menzies said. But since Wu is limited in his English-speaking proficiency, he needed a local developer to take charge of the project. Menzies initially rejected the offer, but after looking at the site’s panoramic views of the Bay, he was convinced.
“The Bay was sparkling in the distance and I thought, ‘Oh my god, it’s a one-of-a-kind site,’” Menzies said.