Davis’s Historic City Hall building to be put up for sale

NICHOLAS CHAN / AGGIE

California Redevelopment Agencies require Davis to sell Historic City Hall

The City of Davis must sell its Historic City Hall due to a statewide call for cities to dissolve any properties formerly funded by the Redevelopment Agency (RDA), which dissolved in February of 2012. The state hopes to return the property taxes to public agencies within Davis, such as the Davis Joint Unified School District or Yolo County services.

California has distributed money to revitalizing broken-down cities, and, while some cities desperately needed the funds, cities like Davis used them for less dire projects. The city chose to invest in properties like the Historic City Hall, the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, the Dresbach-Hunt Boyer Mansion and the parking garage above the Regal Holiday Cinema.

“The state wanted [the money given to the cities by the RDA] back so we are complying with the state’s orders,” said Brett Lee, Davis city councilmember. “We are going to put it out on the open market and see who bids for it.”

The state looked through all of the properties that stemmed from finances provided by the RDA and allowed for cities to retain ownership of properties that still serve public and/or government use.

Davis’ Historic City Hall, however, now houses a restaurant and bar, which does not necessarily serve any type of public service. As a result, the state now requires that Davis put the property on the open market.

“Davis has initiated the early stages of marketing for its historic city hall,” said Stacey Winton, a City of Davis media and communications officer. “Located at 226 F. St., the vacant building has not been used for city affairs but contains a restaurant, Bistro 33, in both the building and outside patio.

Despite losing ownership of the property, the city will gain access to bond funds from the state once it is sold. Once the real estate has been dissolved, the city will also receive 21 percent of the proceeds, with 33.5 percent going to the Davis Joint Unified School District, 25 percent to the county Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund and the remainder to be dispersed among various organizations like the Yolo County Library and the Davis Cemetery District.

That process is now underway with the city looking to hire a commercial broker by this spring. While the new owner will gain rights to the property, the building is deemed a historical landmark. Therefore, no major structural changes can be made without first consulting the council and the city’s Historic Resource Management Commission.

While there hasn’t been an official appraisal of the property, the council estimates its value to be about $2.3 million. This number is too high for the City of Davis to consider investing in the property, according to city officials.

Mayor Robb Davis noted that the city will not seek to obtain the building. Although the decision and process has been difficult for the city, there are limited options. The building will remain in the public sphere and will continue to be valued as a historical space and part of the city’s history.

“We have to demonstrate to the state that we are maximizing revenue from that sale,” Davis said. “It would be difficult for us to demonstrate that we are purchasing it at market [value] if we get it at a rate that we can potentially afford so we are unanimous in saying that it should be sold at market rate.”
Written By: Bianca Antunez — city@theaggie.org