The Riverbank City Council is preparing for an expansion in workload and services to its citizens by authorizing acquisition of a downtown building for new offices.
At its Feb. 26 meeting, the council gave City Manager Sean Scully the go-ahead to purchase a building at 3234 Santa Fe St.
In making the presentation to the council, Scully noted that the council had recently approved an analysis of the city’s space, both for current, short term and long term needs for physical space. He said the process of developing a Request for Proposal for these services led staff to realize there was really very little additional office space existing for short term growth.
“Similarly there are very few physical opportunities for reasonable cost additions to current city structures,” he noted. “Ironically, around the same time the internal discussions were taking place, staff became aware that a building immediately adjacent to City Hall South was available for sale. The property had been vacant for a number of years and was recently remodeled for a future medical office use but was never occupied by its owners.”
He said the property is now part of a bankruptcy proceeding and is available for purchase through the common real estate bankruptcy process. He told the council that staff has made a purchase offer of $300,000 which has been accepted by the Bankruptcy Trustee. The offer is approximately $65,000 less than the listing price and is generally consistent with comparative parameters that have been reviewed by staff.
He told them the property potentially “provides for some unique possibilities for short and midterm growth.” First, he said, the property is located immediately adjacent to City Hall South and across the street from City Hall North.
“This allows city departments in the downtown area to have room for growth, while still remaining in close proximity to many of the other City buildings,” Scully explained.
“Second,” he continued, “the recent remodel has upgraded the majority of the interior space and provides ample space for future growth. The building has seating areas for the public, multiple office spaces, two conference rooms, a break room, and small courtyard area. The building is approximately 4,250 square feet and the total lot size is approximately .14 acres.”
If acquired, staff does contemplate that some building upgrades would be required in order to make the space completely usable for City business. This primarily will relate to upgrades to the front office/reception, roof repair, flooring upgrades and general office furniture/technology. In anticipation of this potential new space, staff has requested that the architects performing the spatial analysis include an analysis of this property so that it’s most efficient use can be planned for.
Since this property is a currently part of a bankruptcy proceeding, he told the council, the purchase procedure is different than a traditional real estate transaction. The first step is an initial offer to the Bankruptcy Trustee, which has already been completed and accepted. The next step requires a court date to be scheduled where a Bankruptcy Judge will consider the offer and an opportunity will be provided for any other bidders to submit their offers. If no other offers are received the bid should be accepted and the purchase will commence.
Scully pointed out that the money to pay for the building has been routinely collected in System Development Fees charged to ongoing development.
“It is intended to finance this kind of needed expansion,” he said.
Scully said he was requesting authority (if approved by the Court) to execute the necessary documents to complete the purchase in addition to an expenditure authorization of approximately $302,000, which would include closing costs.
An online Realtor’s listing shows the building valued at $365,000. The document states the storefront was originally built in 1935.
The listing points out there is no off-street parking. It says there is an enclosed patio area and interior features include a waiting room with reception area, 13 exam rooms, space for computer servers, two nurse stations, two break rooms, a utility room and a supply room.
For many years, the building was used as a True Value Hardware store. It sat empty for a while after the store closed, and was used briefly as a barber/salon shop.
A company based in Merced bought the building to expand its line of health clinics to Riverbank. Remodeling was completed in 2016, but the office building was never occupied.
When Scully was asked what the city might call the new office wing, it was suggested ‘City Hall Southwest,’ possibly to complement City Hall North and City Hall South.