Proceed slowly on new RDA project

The city of Hollister’s Redevelopment Agency has its eyes on
buying the Lindeman Chrysler building near the entrance to downtown
on San Benito Street and turning it into some sort of mixed-use
building that would make it attractive to national retailers.
The city of Hollister’s Redevelopment Agency has its eyes on buying the Lindeman Chrysler building near the entrance to downtown on San Benito Street and turning it into some sort of mixed-use building that would make it attractive to national retailers.

The proposal – roughly estimated to cost $2.2 million in redevelopment funds – is enticing. There is no doubt that the gateways into Hollister would benefit from cleaning up and that the downtown needs the business boost that such a project could bring, but we encourage the City Council to proceed slowly and deliberately.

Before branching out into new acquisitions, council members should review all the properties that the Redevelopment Agency already owns, how long it’s owned them and how much progress has been made on turning them into projects that contribute to the vitality of Hollister’s downtown.

The slow pace in developing a meaningful project on the corner of Fourth and San Benito streets – a marquee location where the right building would undoubtedly lift the fortunes of our downtown – should raise a warning flag for council members as they weigh the merits of this redevelopment idea. It’s been vacant essentially since the 1989 earthquake damaged the businesses there and it’s been in the hands of the redevelopment agency since 1995, though there is a proposal in the works for that high-profile corner.

Simply buying a building because it is available may not be the most judicious way to go. There is the possibility that a private sector business will buy the property and develop it on their own without the redevelopment agency having to spend millions to get something done. It’s only been since Christmas that Chrysler hauled the cars off the Lindeman lot.

A wiser approach may be for the redevelopment agency to try and find a developer willing to partner on a project that will help revitalize the downtown and bring in a national retailer.

Until that time, the free market should be allowed to operate and perhaps turn up a thriving business without the benefit of public funds.

Projects that will add life and customers to the downtown are welcome. But what we don’t need is a white elephant stuffed with taxpayer dollars gathering dust.

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