"I'm confident that 2013 will be just as great as 2012, if not better, and that Pleasanton will continue to master the challenges ahead while being true to the unique spirit of our community," Thorne said at a luncheon presentation hosted by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.
"Chief among them, a commitment to actively engage with our civic partners, while upholding the transparency that strengthens us as community," he added. "This lasting commitment continues to enhance our reputation as a vibrant, forward-thinking community."
Accomplishments last year, as cited by Thorne, included a decision by Workday to stay in Pleasanton and acquire a nearby office center to meet its expansion requirements. The company, which also plans to create 4,000 high-tech jobs in Pleasanton, was being seriously wooed by San Ramon but agreed with Pleasanton leaders that staying here made more sense.
Other gains last year included the decision by the University of San Francisco to relocate its San Ramon branch campus to Pleasanton, a move by Mercedes Benz to add a 72,000-square-foot showroom, and the construction of the Gateway Shopping Center on Bernal Avenue, where Safeway opened its new Lifestyle supermarket. With CVS Pharmacy about to finish construction on its new building, that shopping center is 100% filled, Thorne said.
Plans are under way, too, to add an additional 350,000 square feet of retail space at Stoneridge Shopping Center, he said.
"Let's talk about downtown Pleasanton," Thorne said. "The vacancy rate is only 6%, a real accomplishment in this economy and a testament to the economic value of our historic downtown."
He also announced that a "national retailer" will move into the now-vacant Domus store on Main Street, although the name of the firm remains a secret until the leasing papers are signed.
Pleasanton's economy is also rebounding from the recent recession. The unemployment rate for the city stands at 4.8%, well under the state's 9.8% rate and the current national rate of 7.9%. That, coupled with a 7% increase in home values during 2012 and still climbing, "makes Pleasanton a desirable place to live" and do business, Thorne said.
In fact, the combined assessed value of the city's commercial and residential properties was just over $12 billion in 2012, resulting in property tax revenues coming in at approximately $50 million.
Development activity is improving, with building permit revenues up 24% from last year; revenues from checking plans are up 75%. Most of the activity is from the ongoing construction of the Stoneridge Creek retirement community on Staples Ranch and Pleasanton Gateway Plaza, as well as Clorox's relocation to Pleasanton and the Safeway Corporate expansion at the former Farmers Insurance Building off Dublin Canyon Boulevard.
Pleasanton ended fiscal year 2012 with business licenses up by 6% over fiscal year 2011, he added.
"Pleasanton is in great financial shape, a position envied by communities around the Bay," Thorne said. "Our conservative fiscal policies and comprehensive budgeting approach enable Pleasanton to deliver the high quality of services our residents deserve."
As for 2013 priorities, Thorne said they include more sports fields on Bernal Community Park and careful planning and design reviews of housing projects being planned.
Among these, South Bay Development Corp. is proposing 210 apartment units and 88 single family homes near the new Pleasanton Gateway Shopping Center; E.S. Ring Corp. is planning 345 apartments and approximately 38,000 square feet of neighborhood retail space at the corner of the Valley/Bernal/Stanley; the Nearon Co. is planning an upscale 168-unit transit-oriented project in the Hacienda Business Park; and the California Center is planning a 205-unit transit-oriented development and approximately 7,500 square feet of neighborhood retail.
With regard to city finances, Thorne said the city has a AA rating by Standard and Poor's with assets exceeding liabilities as of last June 30 by $872.4 million.
The city is debt-free except for approximately $25 million in outstanding bonds that were used to finance Callippe Preserve golf course, and Thorne plans to find a way to pay those off while he is mayor.