The former Cambria library building at 900 Main St. has been sold to a Nipomo family trust, according to action taken July 17 by the county Board of Supervisors. The property has been on the market since 2015.
The winning bid of $404,000 was higher than the $395,000 appraised value of the 2,331-square-foot building on a commercially zoned lot of 9,888 square feet, according to Supervisor Bruce Gibson.
“The chapter of building a new library in Cambria is closed,” the pleased supervisor told the North Coast Advisory Council on July 18.
Not quite yet: Escrow is due to close on or before the end of the month, said Phil D’Acri, the county’s real property manager. He said there are no conditions of sale, which bodes well for completion of the transaction.
Who bought it
The buyer is the Donna G. Mehlschau Trust.
The family doesn’t yet have firm plans what will go into the building, Donna Mehlschau said in a July 31 phone interview. She added that she doesn’t plan to operate a business there, but expects instead to lease the structure.
The Mehlschau family is prominent in Nipomo-area farming and came to that area from Denmark in the 1880s.
“My husband’s grandfather was 14 years old when he jumped on a ship to escape being conscripted into the German army,” she said.
“I love the feel of the community of Cambria,” Mehlschau added. “... We’ve spent a lot of time in Cayucos with our grand kids, and we always took side trips to Cambria.”
Recently, she saw a legal notice about the county’s auction of the library property, she said, and thought “I’d better to check that out.”
She was able to tour inside the building, and Mehlschau liked what she saw so well she decided to bid on it.
Once escrow closes, “we’ll put a new roof on it,” and do whatever else the structure needs, she said. “The building is so great. I really loved the architecture, and we’ll do whatever maintains that.”
Mehlschau plans to visit the Cambria Chamber of Commerce soon to connect with the business community.
“We’re hopeful we’ll come up with a good fit … we want to be good members of the community,” she said.
The county had tried to auction off the library property several times in the past four years.
This time, there were two bidders. The bid from Sheri and Glen Baldwin, owners of Cambria Physical Therapy and Gym One, was for the appraised value. She said later that if their bid had been successful the building would have housed the physical-therapy portion of their business so the gym could have expanded. However, she added, they’re not looking for another site.
The Cambria Community Services District came very close to buying the library property a year ago for $405,000, with total expenses for the purchase and the move estimated at nearly $1 million. The plan was to move the district offices there to help create a downtown center for community functions.
But with the CSD’s tight financial situation, Municipal Finance Corp. declined the district’s application for a loan of $562,500. District directors subsequently canceled the deal on a 3-2 vote.
Proceeds from the library sale to the Mehlschau trust — minus any costs for building maintenance, repairs and other expenses incurred on the property — are to be split 50-50 between the county library building fund and Friends of the Cambria Library, according to Jeri Farrell. She’s president of the nonprofit whose members had labored for decades to raise Friends’ half of the cost of the community’s new, larger library building at 1043 Main St.
Cambria’s busy library operations switched into that building in December 2013. The former library building has been vacant since then.
Farrell said the sale of the old library “is bittersweet, but we are so glad someone is buying it and will care for it. … That being said, we love the new library and the programs they are able to present to Cambria.”