City's Victorian up for sale by bid again
At its Wednesday, Sept. 19 meeting, the directors decided to ask for bids on the sale of the home at 600 Nevada St. The bid will state requirements by directors for the buyer to keep the outside of the home intact.
Director Vern Templeton said he didn’t want to see the building torn down but refurbished.
Administrative Assistant Gwenna MacDonald told the directors that there was about $700,000 to rehabilitate the house into low-income housing or apartments but she was not sure if that would be enough money.
Templeton replied, “I don’t think the city wants to get into the apartment renting business but I want it refurbished.”
He added he would like the city to have some control on what happened to the building because “depending on which slum lord in Susanville buys it, it may become another slum unit.”
The agency purchased the house from the city for $175,000 and still owes the general fund for the loan. The city allowed the agency to purchase the building because it knew there would be rehabilitation money. However, an engineer study reported it would cost a minimum of $500,000 to refurbish.
The house was appraised for sale at $156,000 and the agency received two bids, one for $100,000 and the other for $110,000. The directors rejected the bids and directed city staff to research demolishing the building and build a 16-space parking lot.
The cost to pave and landscape the lot was estimated at $24,000. These charges are based on the assumption that the building would be removed, debris hauled away and the lot leveled and prepared for paving.
Numerous questions arose when city staff looked further into the proposed parking lot.
“Primarily, removal of the structure presents question regarding the historic value of the home, the cost associated with lead-based paint and asbestos hazards,” MacDonald said.
The removal of the house would also require a California Environmental Quality Act review as stipulated in section 17.88 of the city of Susanville Zoning Ordinance. The city would also have to conduct a Historic America Building Survey since the house is more than 100 years old. But before a HABS report can be made the city would have to conduct an environmental impact review.
MacDonald reported that extremely conservative estimates would be $53,000 for the CEQA review and EIR costs; $20,000 for demolition of the structure and removal of the debris and $24,000 to construct the landscaped parking lot for a total of $97,000.
In a letter to the city, Susanville resident Philip Nemir stated the proposal to turn the lot into a parking lot is “100 percent contrary to General Plan … I recall in 1987 the city was planning to burn down the Historic Susanville Train Depot for firefighter practice. Clearly, the building needed substantial restoration work, but Lassen Land and Trails Trust was formed, got the work done and now the depot is an asset to the community. Would it have better to burn it down and leave a vacant lot?”
Interim City Administrator Rob Hill will bring back a bid proposal for the directors to approve before taking bids on the sale of the house.
The agency is made up of the five city councilmembers, Lino Callegari, Vern Templeton, Doug Sayers, Rod DeBoer and Kurt Bonham.
According to local historian Tim Purdy, the home at 600 Nevada Street was constructed around 1895 for H. W. Bennett. Bennett sold it to Elizabeth Martin Bagin in 1907 for $1,500. She resided in the house until 1941 when she sold it to Truman Moser, who converted it into apartments.
The original home did not have the larger porch in it.
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