Work is underway to demolish Paso Robles’ dilapidated and long-vacant interim city hall building on the southern outskirts of downtown.
The 2.5-acre property at the northwest corner of Fourth and Pine streets was sold in January to local residents Jim and Debbie Saunders for about $1.3 million.
Long-term plans for the site, which the city used in the 1990s, allow for mixed-use buildings though specific plans haven’t been submitted to the city yet.
The property neighbors another development the Saunderses already own at Spring and Fourth streets that houses the offices of San Luis Obispo County Social Services as well as medical companies such as Central Coast Pathology.
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In that development, the Saunderses broke ground this month on a third, 12,000-square-foot office building expansion for the county Office of Social Services, Assistant City Manager Meg Williamson said.
Next door, the old city hall building — noticeable because of its boarded-up windows, tattered awnings and aqua blue trim — will be torn down in the coming weeks.
The demolition permit for the building, which is not a historical site, was obtained this month.
“It’s already being demolished on the interior,” Williamson said. “They’re in there now taking off roof panels and stuff like that — hoping to be done with all of it in a matter of weeks.”
The city used the building in the early 1990s when it moved from Paso Robles’ longtime city hall on 11th Street so it could be torn down to make way for the current City Hall/Library at 1000 Spring St. The city moved into that building in 1995.
The interim city hall building has remained empty ever since, though the offices around it have used part of the property for parking, which will continue.
The city had been in talks to sell the old city hall property to the Saunderses as far back as 2006; those discussions stalled during the recession and recently picked back up.
The real estate deal also included an agreement to allow for the Regional Transit Authority to continue parking its buses until the east side of property is developed.
On Tuesday, the Paso Robles City Council directed the proceeds of the sale of the old city hall property to help repay an approximately $6.7 million loan the city made to itself between accounts. In 2007, the city borrowed from its sewer fund for its general fund to cover a property acquisition related to the Theatre Drive realignment currently in place on the south end of town near Target.
The $1.3 million real estate transaction will go toward the remaining $2 million left to be paid back on that deal, according to the city.