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Sonoma’s downtown Clydesdale pasture back on the market

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[This article has been edited to include the price of the west parcel].

Sonoma’s downtown Clydesdale farm is back on the market. The 2.7 acre property at 196 E. Spain St. – known as Mission Bell Farms – was put on the market by owner Deana Castagnasso last March.

Blue Wing Adobe Trust, the local nonprofit that has been attempting to purchase and preserve the property for the past year, announced on Monday that it has missed its fundraising goal to secure the bucolic parcel.

As a result, its contract with the Castagnasso family has been canceled and the property will be placed back on the market on Tuesday, May 28. It will be listed two ways - both the entire 2.7 acre parcel (196 E. Spain St.) for $7.6 million and just the two front parcels of open pasture (150 E. Spain St.) totaling 1.04 acres for $1.75 million.

Attempts by the Index-Tribune to reach the property’s listing agent, Mark Stornetta, about the new listing configuration, were not successful by press time.

While the Blue Wing Adobe Trust has raised – through a combination of donations, pledges and other commitments – just over $4 million, that number falls well short of the $7 million purchase price agreed upon with the Castagnassos.

“We’ve raised a significant sum, but only about half the funds required,” said Blue Wing board president Patricia Cullinan in a letter to the Index-Tribune and donors.

The contract with the Castagnasso family actually expired in late February. But Blue Wing members had hoped that, during an informal grace period the Castagnassos had granted prior to placing the property back on the market, the Trust would be able to secure the remaining funds necessary to close the transaction, according to Cullinan. Specifically, she said, the board had been working with private foundations dedicated to historic preservation and the preservation of open space.

“These foundations have asked to remain confidential until the potential funding is approved and we have respected their requests,” said Cullinan in the letter. “As one would understand with a transaction of this size, potential partner foundations require an extensive and robust approval process, including significant due diligence. This has taken, and continues to take, time.”

Cullinan expressed appreciation for the Castagnasso family’s patience.

“We’re almost there, but we’re out of time, and we understand their need for resolution,” she said, while expressing that she and the board remain “hopeful and optimistic” that the funds required to preserve the farm will soon be secured.

She said that she hopes the Blue Wing Adobe Trust will be able to make a new offer soon.

As for the pledges already made by donors, Cullinan notes that if another buyer surfaces or the Trust is unable to make an offer within three months, pledges will be returned and all funds returned to the more than 600 donors to date.

Cullinan noted the breadth of the community support for the Blue Wing’s efforts to purchase the farm, noting the more than 10,700 signatures on the online Change.org petition of support.

The Mission Bell Farms property consists of an 1890s-era single-family residence, two barns and several other structures located in and around the downtown complex of historic sites – including the Mission San Francisco de Sonoma, the Sonoma Barracks, the Blue Wing Inn and the Sonoma Plaza, among others. The residence and barns are identified in the National Register of Historic Places as “contributing buildings” to the Sonoma Plaza National Landmark District.

The entire property is zoned for “medium density residential,” however, which, if sold for development, could allow for up to 11 units per acre.

For more information to the Blue Wing Trust website

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

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