City opens door for Gavilan at former Leatherback site

Hats lined the fence shortly before Leatherback closed in 2007.

Hollister council members Monday agreed to consider an agreement with developers who would build an “Education Center” for the Gavilan College district.
Council members voted 3-1 in favor of the item. Mayor Ignacio Velazquez was the only member against it, while Councilman Victor Gomez happened to step away from the dais at the time of the vote.
The city council OK’d a deal with TTI Developers for exclusive negotiations over possible acquisition of the former Leatherback Industries site—the company closed shop in 2007 and the city’s former redevelopment agency bought the property—to lease it as an Education Center for the Gavilan Community College District, according to a council agenda.
An agenda report noted that the facility could include “some ancillary commercial uses.”
Gavilan College trustees five years ago studied the possibility of using the old Leatherback Industries site near downtown Hollister for temporary classroom space as an “Education Center.” The college at the time had been pursuing classroom expansion with capacity running out at the Briggs Building downtown. The YMCA of San Benito County expressed interest at the time in partnering at the site, and did so again Monday.
The college still has active plans to build a permanent campus at the Fairview Corners site off Airline Highway once enrollment meets a certain threshold.
College officials in 2010 said the temporary site would serve as a home to the local college until the county could gain “educational center” status with 500 or more full-time equivalent students here. After Gavilan had declined on the same idea years ago, there was some criticism locally about the decision.
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