Council to consider development on downtown plot

Officials to consider buildings for open space on San Benito Street

The highly debated 400 block proposal for buildings on a cornerstone downtown open space is expected to go before council members next week.

In May 2016, Hollister council members unanimously approved going forward in exclusive talks to sell the city’s property in the 400 block of San Benito Street for a multi-use development. Mayor Ignacio Velazquez didn’t vote at the time due to a financial conflict of interest. Velazquez owns The Vault property neighboring the lot.

Housing Program Manager Mary Paxton said staff officials hope to schedule the proposal for the upcoming council meeting on June 5.

“We are in the Development Disposition Agreement stage,” Paxton said in an email Tuesday. “The DDA establishes the terms for selling the property and transferring the ownership. The DDA includes terms that have been negotiated and a project schedule. Applications to develop the property such as Site and Architectural Review will be presented to the Planning Commission after the DDA is approved.”

If approved, construction would likely begin in 2018, Paxton said.

Last fall, the Community Foundation for San Benito County and the Del Curto Brothers Group approached the city about developing the 400 block property. The city owns the plot after the dissolution of the former Redevelopment Agency, which purchased the property following destruction to structures on the site from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Conceptual plans to develop the property include a philanthropic center, or new headquarters, for the Community Foundation for San Benito County. Private donor Randy Wolf has committed $900,000 to the foundation project. The site also would include four mixed-use buildings with commercial on the ground floors and 16 condominiums on the upper floors. According to the proposal, total estimated project costs are about $4.5 million.

The move to sell the property, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a market-based decision, comes after the California Legislature passed the Dissolution Act six years ago to eliminate redevelopment agencies in the state.

According to the proposal, the proposed purchase price for the 400 block property is $390,000.

The city’s successor agency, which replaced the redevelopment agency, must eventually unload all remaining redevelopment agency assets.

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