Site considered for SLO homeless center could be sold

acornejo@thetribunenews.comAugust 20, 2013 

A 9-acre property on Prado Road that has been singled out as a possible location for San Luis Obispo’s proposed homeless services center may no longer be an option as it heads toward escrow.

Jim Famalette, chief operating officer of Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, confirmed Tuesday that the property owners notified him this month that they have received a letter of intent to purchase 40 Prado Road.

It is not clear who is buying the parcel, but a 90-day period of review is underway. Property co-owner Leo Michaud could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

A controversy over the location of the homeless services center flared this year as people in the business community rallied against plans to build it in the vacant lot next to the county Department of Social Services on South Higuera Street.

The privately owned property on Prado Road was thrust into the spotlight as a preferred possibility by some, including businessman Bill Thoma, who led the effort against the Higuera Street location.

To keep the peace, CAPSLO agreed to examine the Prado Road site as a possible location but a costly engineering study, estimated between $80,000 and $100,000, would be required.

Famalette said Tuesday that the potential sale of the property has put the study on hold.

“We have a period of time where we have to wait and see what happens,” Famalette said. “Everything is in a holding pattern.”

To date, CAPSLO has not spent any money on the Prado site, he said.

The homeless center's plans call for 200 beds, a commercial kitchen, laundry facilities, showers, lockers and storage, offices for caseworkers, a classroom for children and community and multipurpose rooms.

Influential business leaders led by Thoma expressed concerns about the center being built at South Higuera because they felt it would directly impact nearby businesses by increasing loitering and vandalism. Thoma said the Prado location was a better choice because of its distance from businesses.

Those concerns halted the capital campaign just as it went public to raise the funds to build the center.

Famalette said that despite the project being on hold, CAPSLO continues to look at the plans and consider options for moving the project forward.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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