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May 21, 2022

Community Insight Board: Reasons to back 400 block sale

Most Community Insight Board members agreed that the Hollister City Council made the right decision by supporting a sale of the 400 block property downtown to allow for development of condos, retail space and a new Community Foundation for San Benito County building.
The board was mixed on some issues related to the sale, such as the appraisal amount and whether amenities like the nearby, city-owned parking garage should play into the negotiation, but most members felt the proposed projects are worthwhile for the location.
The Community Insight Board is an independent panel of local volunteers who meet regularly and share opinions on local issues that are published in this newspaper.
Here are the main points expressed by board members about the 400 block of San Benito Street, as the city moves ahead on sale negotiations with Del Curto Brothers Group and the Community Foundation:
It’s good the city is doing something with the plot, and it’s exciting that there’s a beautiful building proposed by the Community Foundation. The city council made a decision and is moving forward. Officials understand we can’t stay stagnant if the city has an opportunity to get something built there.
The proposed mixed-use project also fits criteria put out by the city last year when the council requested ideas for projects to accommodate a sale of the former Redevelopment Agency property.
Meanwhile, the foundation’s Philanthropic Center will provide benefits to local nonprofits, which are in need of the space. It also offers potential benefits to the broader community, or the users of the foundation-connected nonprofits’ services.
At the same time, board members acknowledged the proposal wouldn’t stand on its own to turn around the downtown’s declining economy. Sixteen condos isn’t a lot, and the additional retail space will merely add to the existing mix.
But it is a step in the right direction for the downtown that needs a kick-start. With the uproar caused by Mayor Ignacio Velazquez—who hasn’t been a team player on the issue, on which he maintains a conflict — the city can also learn from this experience and do a better job of planning out a communication strategy next time something controversial arises.
Community Insight Board members include Gordon Machado, Jae Eade, Frankie Gallagher, Cesar Flores and Brenda Weatherly.

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