Sonoma County supervisors scrapped their most recent effort to sell the Chanate Road campus after a third developer walked away in early 2019 from negotiations to develop the land in northeast Santa Rosa for housing.
The Board of Supervisors first tried to sell the property for up to $12.5 million in a deal with local developer Bill Gallaher. His plan, which envisioned more than 800 units on the 72-acre site, was derailed by a lawsuit filed by neighbors of one of the largest vacant developable public parcels for housing within Santa Rosa city limits.
The county is required under state rules to deal principally with affordable housing firms or public or nonprofit entities in sale negotiations.
The Chanate Road property is currently mostly vacant, with maintenance costs soaring as the county seeks to control and limit break-ins and vandalism.
Sonoma County spent $768,000 in 2019 on securing the buildings against break-ins, and by June of 2020 costs reached $519,783, including last November and December, according to county documents.
The most recent decision reached by the board was to tear down 13 of the buildings on the site. $10.8 million was earmarked in September 2019 but bids for that work are at an unknown stage.
Meanwhile this Chanate Road campus property value has dropped. Having been appraised for $7 million in 2016, the value had dropped to $4.24 million by 2019 partially due to escalating costs for seismic studies and demolition of the asbestos-ridden buildings along with lawsuit resistance from neighbors.
According to a Press Democrat article by Ty Silvy “It is a perfect property to place an appropriate level of housing and services,” then Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Gorin. “I’m confident we can find a developer to move that forward with the neighbors. But it seems to be challenging right now.”
Given the rapidly expanding homeless crisis this 72 acre property, which had been intended for low cost housing development should now be developed as ultra low cost and low cost housing, along with short term use of the Santa Rosa fairgrounds to house the homeless, and as temporary homes for homeless construction workers to work with the county and community to convert the Chanate Road campus.