East Palo Alto's Ravenswood City School District is in talks to sell or exchange acres of property -- including its own headquarters -- to an office developer.
In a closed session Thursday, April 25, the Cupertino-based Sobrato Organization will negotiate with Ravenswood Superintendent Maria De La Vega over six parcels in East Palo Alto.
Under discussion will be "price and terms of payment," according to an agenda published by the school district.
The prospective transaction includes the school district's administrative headquarters, its transportation center and bus yard, a building that houses the federal low-income nutrition program known as WIC (Women, Infants and Children), a school warehouse and receiving building, the district's technology center and the nonprofit Foundation for a College Education.
Neither Sobrato CEO John M. Sobrato nor Ravenswood's De La Vega responded to requests for comment sent Tuesday morning.
De La Vega is set to retire in June. Trustees of the K-8 Ravenswood district, which serves about 4,000 mostly low-income and English-learning students in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park, are searching for a new superintendent.
The Sobrato Organization manages about 7.5 million square feet of commercial office space, with tenants that include Apple, Yahoo and Netflix, as well as 30 apartment communities with 6,700 units, according to Forbes magazine.
Sobrato's philanthropic arm has contributed to numerous programs in East Palo Alto including the Ravenswood Education Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula. The Sobrato family has signed the Buffett-Gates Giving Pledge, asking billionaires to promise to give away 100 percent of wealth during their lifetimes or leave it to a foundation.
Thursday's closed-door meeting is authorized under a section of California law that permits a local agency to hold a closed session "prior to the purchase, sale, exchange or lease of real property by or for the local agency to grant authority to its negotiator regarding the price and terms of payment for the purchase, sale, exchange or lease."
Three of the six parcels under discussion contain school district facilities that are contiguous with a mostly vacant lot on East Bayshore Road, where Sobrato has posted a sign advertising "Phase II" of University Plaza, described as premier "Class A" office space.
Signage for Phase I of Sobrato's University Plaza is posted on a vacant lot a few blocks away on Donohoe Street opposite IKEA, describing a "Class A office campus" with 208,000 square feet and underground parking.
The three parcels that contain the school district's headquarters -- fronting on Euclid but including property at the corner of Euclid and East Bayshore contiguous with the Sobrato Phase II lot -- are 2110, 2120 and 2160 Euclid.
The three Ravenswood parcels stretch from East Bayshore, adjacent to the Sobrato "Phase II" property, to about a quarter mile down Euclid Avenue to Bell Street Park, home of a community swimming pool and the Lewis and Joan Platt East Palo Alto Family YMCA.
The other three parcels listed for negotiation Thursday are privately held lands across town, near the corner of Pulgas Avenue and Bay Road.
One of the parcels, 2519 Pulgas, is described in a web listing by real estate broker Greg DeLong of CBRE as five acres of vacant land with entitlements for 93,000 square feet of research and development space. The price is listed as $2.75 million.
The other two, 1885 and 1891 Bay Road, are described in a similar web listing as .59 acres with 2,040 square feet of existing industrial space for a price of $750,000.
Although state law authorizes the closed negotiations it requires publication of the identities of negotiators, the properties under negotiation and the persons with whom its negotiators may negotiate.
Listed as negotiators for the school district in Thursday's talks are Superintendent De La Vega, Ravenswood's Chief Business Official Megan Curtis and lawyer Marilyn Cleveland of the education law firm Dannis Woliver Kelley.
Individuals negotiating for the Sobrato Organization were not specified.
Thursday's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of Ravenswood school district headquarters, 2120 Euclid Ave., East Palo Alto.