New ownership for Historic City Hall

JEREMY DANG / AGGIE

Engstrom Properties’ bid accepted for City Hall

The search for a steward to buy the Historic City Hall building in downtown Davis has ended, as Engstrom Properties’ bid was accepted on Nov. 21. The bid was $3.5 million and will be split between the city and public entities, such as school districts.

Before the bid was accepted, the city was contracted with Turton Commercial Real Estate to sell the building. Scott Kingston, the vice president of the company, commented on Engstrom Properties taking ownership of  City Hall.

“We are very fortunate to have received offers from many qualified buyers, and we couldn’t be more excited than to have Engstrom Properties in escrow to buy the building,” Kingston said. “They have a tremendous amount of local retail development and leasing experience.”

Engstrom Properties currently owns, leases and manages several other commercial properties in Davis, including the Covell Shopping Center and El Macero Center in South Davis.

As the City Hall building is now a restaurant, Kingston further elaborated on how Engstrom Properties has the experience necessary to own the building.

“The company also owns, operates and renovated the historic Hotel Woodland in downtown Woodland,” Kingston said. “They have the perfect combination of local presence, retail and restaurant experience and attention to stewardship of the property.”

Kingston noted that the city wanted to maintain the building’s historical presence.

“The City was very focused on finding the right buyer for the property — not just any buyer that could close escrow and collect rent — but finding a buyer that had a resume of owning and maintaining buildings with a similar sense of historic importance,” Kingston said.

As City Hall is in the heart of downtown Davis, Kingston noticed that buyers liked the location of the building and its historical significance.

“Local buyers love the history, timelessness and long-term legacy of the building, while regional and out-of-town buyers were intrigued by its proximity to the UC Davis campus, its unparalleled presence in downtown Davis and the popularity of Bistro 33,” Kingston said.  

Since the building is still in its early stages of having new ownership, Kingston does not believe that there will be any instantaneous effects.

“I don’t believe the new ownership have any immediate plans for the building, as Bistro 33’s lease has a couple years remaining on its existing lease, with an option to extend for five additional years,” Kingston said. “I do imagine that little items will be cleaned up, restored or improved, but nothing significant if Bistro ever vacates the property.”

Brett Lee, the mayor pro tempore of Davis, commented on Engstrom Properties’ ability to maintain the property.

“They also have the resources and staff to hopefully find good tenants and maintain the property and make sure that it’s well run and managed into the future,” Lee said.

Though the city hall building no longer serves its original purpose, the building remains a historical artifact that the city of Davis wants to uphold, according to Lee.

“The city wants to maintain the historic design and look of it,” Lee said. “It’s nice to have something unique around downtown. We were able to make sure that it was decently maintained, and we feel confident that the same thing will occur.”

Lee further stated that choosing Engstrom Properties was a rather easy decision.

“For the city, it wasn’t very difficult all,” Lee said. “We had several different offers to choose from, and we thought that Engstrom’s offer was the best fit. In the long run, they have plans to refurbish and upgrade it.”

Engstrom Properties was then chosen as part of a policy decision based on the city council.

“The selection of Engstrom was done at the city council level because it was a policy decision in terms of who we thought would best operate that property and maintain it as a historical sighting in the town,” Lee said.

A city news release stated that Engstrom Properties was chosen based on its competitive offer price, proven track record of owning and operating high-quality commercial and historic properties, extensive commercial leasing and property management staff, vision for the property, dedication to maintaining the historic integrity of the building and understanding of Davis community values.

According to the city’s statement, Mayor Robb Davis also believes that Engstrom Properties was the right choice.

“We feel Engstrom Properties will be an excellent steward for our Historic City Hall building and are confident they will exceed our expectations,” Davis said.

 

Written by: Stella Tran — city@theaggie.org