SANTA CLARA -- Joe Montana was known for winning big games for the 49ers, but now in his new career as a developer, he's struggling to gain a much different kind of win off the field.
The Hall of Fame quarterback is pushing back construction of his $400 million hotel, sports bar, retail and office project across from Levi's Stadium again, the second significant delay in as many years. Montana has lost his development partner, according to a person close to the deal, while questions continue to swirl about how the 49ers -- who currently have parking dibs to the land Montana is trying to develop -- will be compensated for losing stadium parking spots.
Still, Santa Clara leaders' faith in Montana has not wavered, and the City Council on Tuesday is set to approve yet another extension that will give Golden Joe exclusive rights to the land -- instead of letting other developers bid -- for another couple of years.
"I'm not discouraged at all. I think we're making good progress, and in the end, we'll get a deal with them," said City Manager Julio Fuentes.
When he first proposed the 730,000-square-foot project four years ago, Montana had envisioned the hotel plaza opening along with the 49ers' new home in 2014 as a main attraction for visiting fans. But last year, after struggling to get the project up and running, Montana pushed the opening back to coincide with Super Bowl 50, which Levi's Stadium will host in 2016.

Advertisement

Now, Montana has missed that goal, too, and concedes construction won't even begin until 2016 at the earliest. It's not clear when the so-called "Santa Clara Centennial Gateway" would open.
Montana's post-football venture would include a 250-room boutique hotel with a rooftop pool; rows of shops and eateries headlined by a signature Joe Montana restaurant; a large U-shaped office complex; and big open plazas close enough to read the Levi's Stadium scoreboards. But the plans haven't always gone smoothly.
When the development was first proposed, then-City Manager Jennifer Sparacino recommended against giving Montana exclusive rights to the prime 9-acre swath of city land across from the incoming stadium, saying the city should instead allow developers to bid and let the best project win. But after Montana personally testified at a public meeting, council members said they were impressed with his star power and voted in 2012 to set aside the land for him.
Since then, Montana has come back requesting extensions and other updates to the deal four times, with the council on Tuesday set to approve, without discussion, the latest deal through as late as March 2017.
Joe Montana, former 49ers quarterback with the Montana Property Group, listens to questions from the Santa Clara City Council after pitching his hotel and
Joe Montana, former 49ers quarterback with the Montana Property Group, listens to questions from the Santa Clara City Council after pitching his hotel and office project at the Santa Clara City Council meeting on October 30, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) (Nhat V. Meyer)
In the meantime, the land will sit as a parking lot used a few dozen times a year for Levi's Stadium, collecting minimal revenue for the city. Meanwhile, interest from other developers for the area around the new stadium continues to surge, most notably, with a $6.5 billion Santana Row-style mixed-use project planned next to Montana's venture.
The developers of that mega-project, a multibillion-dollar company called Related that is led by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, are now taking on a bigger role coordinating with Montana on their adjacent developments. It comes as Montana's previous development partner, seasoned Lowe Enterprises, is said to have recently dropped out of the project, though it's unclear if Related will step in as Montana's new co-developer.
Related, which has a much bigger and more complicated development than Montana's and began the planning process two years after him, has nonetheless progressed past the stalled Montana project in the city's planning process and could begin construction first.
A representative for Montana did not respond to requests for comment. Spokeswomen for Related and Lowe declined to comment.
One other issue that surfaced early this year has not gone away, and it involves the team Montana led to four Super Bowl championships.
Although the city owns the two plots of land on Tasman Drive that Montana wants to develop, the 49ers won the rights to use the property for parking as part of the team's voter-approved stadium deal before Montana began pitching his development.
The 49ers have insisted on being given roughly 800 replacement parking spots if Montana builds on the lot, but so far the city has been unable to lock down new spaces or broker a different solution.
Montana's representatives have previously downplayed the issue, and the 49ers on Monday did not respond to a request for comment. Fuentes said the city, team and Montana's group have been tossing around various ideas and that the parking squabble presents only a "wrinkle."
"I don't think we're really that far away from working out a final solution to the lease as well as the parking issue," he said.