RAC OKs asking Supes for Vailetti funding
It didn't take long Thursday evening for the Springs Redevelopment Advisory Committee to decide to ask the county to fund up to $175,000 of due diligence money for the possible purchase of the Vailetti property at 17301 Sonoma Highway.
The six-plus-acre plot is probably the largest undeveloped lot in the redevelopment area and the Community Development Commission isn't wasting any time taking the request to the county's Board of Supervisors who will discuss it at today's meeting.
Steve Cox, RAC chair, said the county should move aggressively to get control of the property.
The property was sold several years ago to a company that planned a development of market-rate and low-income homes. But the project, called Las Palmas, ran out of funding last year and was dropped. The property then reverted to the Valietti Family Trust, although the CDC has a first right of refusal.
The county's redevelopment manager, John Haig, told the RAC that the right of first refusal doesn't have an unlimited time span. "We have a 30-day window," Haig said. "It's hard for the CDC to do anything in 30 days."
Haig said Vailetti has had some interest in the property, "and it's prudent for us to get authority to respond."
Al Lerma, the county's redevelopment associate, said that CDC has had some discussions with Marco Vailetti. "We'd like to be more proactive instead of waiting for something to unfold," he explained.
Haig said the site would be perfect for a mixed-use development with a possible combination of low-income housing and the new location for the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center. "We see that as the highest and best use of the property," he said.
If the CDC buys the land, Haig said it would allow the agency to invest in infrastructure before selling it to a developer to complete the project.
Haig said buying the land wouldn't constitute "land banking."
"We wouldn't be holding it for undetermined use," he said. "We're not buying it to re-sell with no strings attached."
"If we're the owner," Haig added, "we get to dictate terms (of what will be built)."
The housing that could be built would probably be rental.
Mark Krug, a community development manager, told the committee that it doesn't make sense to build housing for sale. "Rental housing is economically viable," he said.
The RAC didn't take long to make up its mind.
"We need to get control of this land," RAC member Dave Whitley said. "If it falls into our lap, let's take advantage of it."
The measure to ask the Supervisors for up to $175,000 for due diligence passed 5-0.
The RAC was also told that the Supervisors approved another request for up to $175,000 for due diligence in order to explore purchase of the rubble that used to be the Clemente Inn. That request was approved March 22.
"We're going to have a contract for purchase out next week," Haig said.
Part of the due diligence money will cover expenses for the county counsel, a commercial appraisal and an environmental review, among other things. "Our due diligence starts when we get a signature on a contract," Haig added.