Council approves property sales

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Ridgecrest City Council discussed two separate property sales during its regular meeting on Wednesday evening – real property on South Desert Candles Street and a 12-acre parcel adjacent to the Kerr McGee Sports Complex. The council approved the sale, or at least the intent to sell, of both properties after brief public comment.

The city received an offer from Hobbs & Carr Development Corp. for the westernmost half of a 25-acre lot directly west of the Kerr McGee baseball diamonds. Hobbs & Carr are offering $105,415.20 for 12.1 acres for development of multifamily residences.

While this property was originally purchased for future expansion of the sports complex, staff considers the property “surplus to the needs of the city,” according to the agenda.

According to City Manager Ron Strand, the entire parcel was appraised at more than $700,000 at one point, but the current sale price is representative of the current market value.

Member of the public Ron Porter objected to the deal, saying that “to sell at a loss makes absolutely no sense.

“It was bought to keep as a park for the future if we ever needed it because it’s all in one place,” he said. “That was the point of paying the exorbitant price in the first place. We own it, it’s not costing anything. There’s other property that somebody can put up a housing project if they want.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mower noted that the city was still keeping the eastern portion of the parcel, the part most adjacent to the fields, for future park development if need be.

Strand cited China Lake’s urgent call for housing.

“It’s something we sorely need for our community to support the base,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re pursuing this endeavor. They have approval through their board of directors to move forward on the housing project.”

City Attorney Lloyd Pilchen added that a second council meeting is required before the sale is finalized. The public will have the opportunity during council’s June 20 meeting to make further comment during a “protest hearing” where they can voice concerns. Competing parties also have the opportunity to make additional offers for the property.

Hobbs & Carr recently presented the council with an interest to develop a mixed-use residential and retail development in one of the parcels in the Ridgecrest Business Park, near Taco Bell. At press time, it was unclear if the discussed development is in addition to, or instead of, the previously presented project.

The second property, at 227 S. Desert Candles St., is being sold to Cecillo G. Rivier for $40,000, a more-than-fair deal according to Strand, who referred to the property as a dilapidated “code-violation case.”

The city, as the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency, purchased the property from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for $1 in 1998 with the intention to donate it to a nonprofit organization like Habitat for Humanity.

“We tried to sell it over the years, but none of those efforts were successful,” said Strand. “We couldn’t even donate it.”

He added that the city put the property in the hands of a realtor with the recent return of the housing market. After bids were collected for 30 days, Rivier was the highest bidder.

“We’re hoping with the sale they will rehab it and it will be a good addition to the neighborhood,” said Strand.

Because the property was owned by the former RDA, the money will be distributed among multiple city and county agencies – with the largest portion (50.1 percent) going to the Sierra Sands School District.

The city’s 7.8-percent share comes out to just under $3,000.

The council will meet again Wednesday, June 20, 6 p.m. at City Hall.

For additional information see ridgecrest-ca.gov/ridgecrest-city-council.

Story First Published: 2018-06-08