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Davis

Davis, California

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Davis Historic City Hall still up for sale

NICHOLAS CHAN / AGGIE

Now contracted with Turton Commercial Real Estate

While City Hall will remain a historic artifact of the City of Davis, the building is currently in the process of being sold to a private entity. But the city will strive to maintain the hall’s image as a part of downtown Davis as part of the state regulation for selling city buildings.

“The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is not a city building for a while now,” said Davis Mayor Robb Davis. “It has been a restaurant for some number of years. It was sold to the redevelopment agency, which the state later cancelled. If you’re not using it for city purposes, therefore you have to sell it at market price.”

The hall now houses a restaurant and bar, so the state required Davis to put the property on the open market. Since then, the city has contracted with Turton Commercial Real Estate.

Ken Turton, the founder of Turton Commercial Real Estate, noted how intertwined City Hall is with the Davis community.

“This used to be the city hall for the City of Davis,” Turton said. “They loved this building, [and] they never wanted to sell this building, but they had to sell this building. There was a law change, and they put a private tenant to the building for profit. That is no longer permissible for subsidized renovation projects like this.”

However, the city hall no longer serves its original purpose. Davis explained that the city hall is now just an attraction and restaurant. Even so, the building holds the past memories and history of Davis. The city does not have to worry about any significant changes, however, as the property will retain its archival image since it was historically registered.

“It was built in 1938, and it’s a piece of Spanish Colonial architecture,” Turton said. “You can’t change the facade of the building and there’s some internal characteristics of the building that is also reserved. [Changes] never happen; in my 20 years, I’ve never seen anybody change the facade of a historically registered building.”

Stacey Winton, the media and communications officer for the City of Davis, explained her involvement with City Hall’s sales and how the process worked.

“I am the city staff to the Redevelopment Successor Agency. Regarding future changes, it will depend on who purchases the building,” Winton said. “The current tenant has a lease, which will remain in place until it expires, renews or is bought out.”

Winton went on to express how the city reacted because the building has been such a crucial part of the downtown atmosphere.

“It is a devastating loss to the city’s history,” Winton said. “It was the City of Davis’ first city hall and was then used as a fire and police station.”

While the city could not really gain ownership of the city hall, the building will still retain its architecture and historical value.

“We didn’t have a choice; the city was compelled by the state of California to sell that building,” Davis said. “It had to be sold; it had to be sold to a private entity. [However,] you can’t just demolish it or change its appearance. There is not much risk in changing the character of that building.”

The property was equally marketed to people who were looking to purchase the building. Turton Commercial Real Estate has been sending out emails and letting the public know about City Hall’s sale.

“The property is well marketed, so everyone has a fair chance to buy it. They have until Oct. 27,” Turton said. “We put a suggested minimum price, and that’s the term that the City of Davis is working for, and [people] can accept the offer early. There are three components: price, terms — review period, escrow — and the third variable is stewardship of the property. You will have to include a resume or history that demonstrates that you are going to be not [just] a good owner, but a great owner — that you will be able to maintain it.”

Not only will the buyer have to show that they are capable of purchasing the building — they must also do justice to its historical significance.

“Our goal is to find a buyer that will respect and preserve the historical nature and integrity of the building as well as invest in the property to ensure it continues to add to a vibrant downtown atmosphere,” Winton said.

Mayor Davis affirmed that the property will still be a part of the downtown Davis atmosphere, even with new ownership.

“This will not change anything in terms of the atmosphere,” Davis said. “I think it will continue to be a commercial space, and I have no reason to believe at this point that this will change the character of downtown Davis because it has been a restaurant and a commercial facility for more than a decade.”

 

Written by: Stella Tran — city@theaggie.org

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