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Galt City Council to consider purchasing 13 properties with redevelopment funds

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Posted: Friday, April 1, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:10 am, Fri Apr 1, 2011.

As part of Galt's redevelopment plan, the Galt City Council will discuss buying 13 properties in Old Town and east of Highway 99.

The nine downtown properties are located along Fourth and Fifth streets while the four others are between Simmerhorn and Boessow roads.

The city would use redevelopment funds to purchase the properties.

In February, the council voted to sell $17 million in bonds to pay for revitalization projects in the redevelopment area. Of that, about $9 million is open for brand new projects, City Manager Jason Behrmann said.

The council will decide in closed session on Tuesday whether it is interested in starting negotiations with the property owners. It also will vote on spending $10,000 to appraise the four properties east of Highway 99.

Behrmann said the city has contacted all of the property owners and they are all interested in negotiating. While there are no specific plans for the downtown properties, he said the city hopes to eliminate blight and bring more commercial, retail and entertainment opportunities to Old Town.

Mayor Barbara Payne said she hopes the city will be able to create new business and jobs in Old Town. She used Galt Place, a new senior apartment complex, as an example. The developer has used local stucco, glass and other type of construction workers, which helped the economy, she said.

"That's the part of Galt that is unique, the part we want to preserve and form our identity around," she said. "It give us an opportunity to do something different down there. Maybe remove some of those old buildings for something to go down there."

By purchasing the 45 acres on the Eastside, she hopes the land will be more attractive to anchor stores because they will know that the city is ready to develop there.

"That property is key to tie the whole city together, east and west. It's kind of the vacant lot between C Street and Twin Cities," she said.

Since 1979, Reuven Epstein has operated Uniquity, his medical supply businesses, out of a building on 4th Street. Late last year, Community Development Director Curt Campion approached him and asked him if he would consider selling.

He had expected the city to eventually come talk to him because he is next to the Brewster Building.

In total, the city has loaned D&S Development $1.6 million to complete the rehabilitation of the building from 1868, and make it into a restaurant and bar.

Epstein figured the city would eventually want to put more shops or a restaurant next to the building.

"Redevelopment agencies have the right of eminent domain. If they want to force the issue, they can do that. It makes more sense to have a nice dialogue and see what happens," Epstein said.

Epstein hadn't planned to retire soon, but based on the city's appraisal and initial offer, he would be willing to sell.

His wife is retiring from San Joaquin County Mental Health Department this summer, so she is encouraging him to sell the property and dissolve or sell the business.

"It's an easy way to sell the building, and they'll take it as is, so I don't have to worry about fixing it up," Epstein said.

He does question whether Galt will be able to keep its historic feel with new businesses, especially bigger franchises. He also said it might price-out small businesses looking to get a start in an affordable building in downtown Galt.

"It could take away some of the small town flavor from Galt that people keep saying they want," Epstein said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com or read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/city_buzz.

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1 comment:

  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:46 am on Fri, Apr 1, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    I'd hope that they consider the county assessor when appraising those properties and not do like Lodi and buy properties and residences for elevated appraisal prices from either themselves or the well connected. With the loaded developer and real estate city council members spending taxpayers money to put Galt further into debt to line the pockets of the local friends and even business partners of themselves, family and friends. No wonder Mr. Meredith moved away from your corrupted little town.

     

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