City contractors raze the vacant buildings of the “redevelopment block” in June 2012. Click image for more photos & info.
Redevelopment in California is dead, but the paperwork continues for redevelopment agencies that still owned property when the state pulled the plug in early 2012.
Like the one in Santa Clarita.
Tuesday, Santa Clarita’s Successor Agency – the former redevelopment agency – will give a public airing to its long-range plan for the properties in Newhall that it had been holding for redevelopment.
The Successor Agency has been filing all sorts of paperwork with the state leading up to this point, and it was given six months from June 20 to file a Long-Range Property Management Plan. The agency will present its plan to its oversight board during a meeting at City Hall Dec. 17, just inside the 6-month window.
The Successor Agency owns three major assets in Newhall.
Old Town Newhall Library
One asset is the Old Town Newhall Library property. The redevelopment agency spent just over $6 million to buy the property for the city’s new library at the head of Main Street, and the (successor to the) redevelopment agency still owns it.
Under the long-range plan, the Successor Agency intends to transfer ownership of the library property to the city for government use since, obviously, it’s already being used by the government.
Moore’s Sub Shop
Another asset is the property next to (east of) the new roundabout. It used to be Moore’s submarine sandwich shop. The city bought it from the Moore’s owner in 2005 for $760,000 with the idea that it could be used for a Children’s Museum or some other “draw” to Newhall.
That was in the preliminary revitalization plans for Newhall, but its time hadn’t yet come. In 2007 the city demolished the sandwich shop, which had stood vacant for two years; from about 2008-2012 the agency prioritized the new streetscape and the new library.
Meantime, the Moore’s site was used for parking. After the state killed redevelopment – and with it, the hopes for a Children’s Museum or something similar – the Successor Agency transferred a piece of the Moore’s property to the city for the Newhall Roundabout, which should be finished in February 2014.
Now, the Successor Agency is left with the remaining 5,814 square feet of the Moore’s property which, judging from the comps, can be sold for about $29 per foot, or maybe $166,174.
“Given the remaining size of the parcel, the development potential and value of the site is limited,” according to a staff report. “The Successor Agency proposes to sell the property and distribute the proceeds to the taxing entities” – the schools, water agencies, county and other agencies that gave up some of their property tax revenues for redevelopment.
Redevelopment (Avery) Block
Finally, the most challenging property disposition involves the so-called “redevelopment block” – the block bounded by Main Street, Lyons Avenue, Railroad Avenue and 9th Street, where most of the buildings were knocked down after sitting derelict in expectation of a major redevelopment project that didn’t happen because of the state’s action. It’s also known as the Avery Block, for a former owner.
The Santa Clarita Redevelopment Agency had assembled the 72,640-square-foot property chiefly in 2009, paying its owners a total of $6.196 million.
Long story short, it was a joint deal between the city and its Redevelopment Agency where 11 percent of the purchase money ($703,345) came from developer fees paid to the city, 46 percent came from the Redevelopment Agency’s regular redevelopment funds, and 43 percent came from the Redevelopment Agency’s housing fund.
That’s because the project was intended to provide both commercial space and low-income housing – possibly a 4-story building with apartments above ground-floor retail shops.
But there wasn’t time to pull it off. The agency was actively courting potential developers when, a year after it bought the property, Jerry Brown was elected governor, and year after that, he was carving redevelopment out of the state budget. (By mid-2011 the handwriting was on the wall and redevelopment agencies across California effectively stopped in their tracks.)
The city still wants to see a project built on that property that fulfills the goals outlined in its Downtown Newhall Specific Plan.
Without the authority vested in a redevelopment agency, however, the city can’t do it on its own. But the Successor Agency is hoping to lay the groundwork for such a project as best it can through its Long-Range Property Management Plan.
“At this time,” according to the staff report, “the preferred option would be to sell the entire property to a developer for fair market value, who would develop the property in a manner consistent with the original plan for the property.”
In an uncertain economy that’s still emerging from a prolonged recession – and without improvements (i.e., buildings) on the site except for one publicly owned building that wasn’t razed (the tenant is Insurance Auto Collision) – the most recent appraisal for the 72,000-plus feet came in at only $2.2 million.
The agency isn’t in any hurry to sell the property, and as noted in the staff report, it would be difficult to unload it tomorrow or next week because the agency doesn’t own it outright. It co-owns it with the city.
Moving forward, the Successor Agency hopes to be able to solicit bids from potential developer-buyers and use a number of criteria to evaluate them including conformity with the redevelopment agency’s original plans for the property; quality of concept and design; costs (to the city) of public services; employment opportunities; and “economic benefits to the affected taxing agencies,” among other things.
We say it “hopes to” do those things because any long-term plan for the disposition of the Old Town Newhall Library property, the Moore’s property and the redevelopment block would have to be approved by the state Department of Finance.