Jewish campus in Foster City buys property it sits on

The North Peninsula Jewish Campus is celebrating its new status as a homeowner, as it were, after getting the official nod to purchase the property on which it sits in Foster City.

The City Council of Foster City approved the sale of the 11-acre property on Sept. 11 with a vote of 4-1, and the NPJC announced that the sale was finalized on Sept. 28. The NPJC had been leasing the property from the city.

The sale price was set by the city at $20 million plus $8.7 million in interest, according to the San Mateo County Times. The sole dissenting vote was cast by Mayor Art Kiesel, who said the interest rate is too low, according to the Times.

The campus at 800 Foster City Blvd. houses the Peninsula JCC and the Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School as well as offices and programs of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Jewish Vocational Services. The campus opened in 2004.

Campus officials and board members were engaged in a lease dispute with Foster City for roughly 18 months before both sides decided in April that a sale of the property might be a good solution. The dispute involved permit deadlines and the desire of the NPJC, which signed a 55-year lease with the city in 1998, to build a cultural arts center.

Deborah Pinsky, executive director of the PJCC, said the NPJC is looking into potential expansions and may still build a cultural arts center in the future — but not under a timeline or any other constraints put forth by Foster City. The original lease agreement required the new center be built before 2011, said Pinsky, which the NPJC could not afford. “This way we control our own destiny,” she said.

Scott Maltz, immediate past president of the PJCC and a leader of the NPJC negotiating team, said he applauded both the hard work of the campus negotiating team and city officials.

“It was essential to ensure that vital programs and services on our campus, which reach deeply throughout our diverse North Peninsula community, remain available now and for future generations,” said Maltz in a statement.

“We greatly appreciate the city’s commitment to an outcome that serves the needs of both city residents and the broader community, including PJCC members, day school families, and thousands of others who regularly take advantage of the campus.”

The city is financing the sale at an interest rate of 3.25 percent and is to receive a $1 million down payment this month followed by annual payments of roughly $1.1 million for the next 25 years, according to the Times. — emma silvers

Emma Silvers