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State puts historic property up for grabs
The Healdsburg National Guard Armory has been posted for sale on the open market by the state of California. on Aug. 1.
The armory was listed in Senate Bill (SB) 1580 as surplus property, and according to Healdsburg City Councilmember Gary Plass, the City had planned to lease the property for $1 a year; but the State had other ideas, and declared they wanted $8,925 a month market rate rent for use of the space.
“Back in 1940, we gave that property to the state,” said Plass. “It would be nice if they gave it back to us . it could potentially be a valuable piece of property to the community, a daytime meeting area . there’s a whole lot of community benefits that could be had by having that property and restoring the property.”
Plass also expressed some disappointment that the state was taking the property straight to the open market, without first offering it up for consideration only to the city or other public entities, such as schools. He said there isn’t much a private buyer could do with the space very easily, since the two acres are zoned for public use. “It would be tough for anybody to put anything there,” he said, as they would have to go through the city to get the land re zoned.
According to City Manager Marjie Pettus, the city’s purchase of the armory would have been for use as a community center; and that it isn’t likely now that they have found another facility to use for that purpose. “We have focused all our attention on Foss Creek,” she said. “The escrow just closed on that facility,
and we don’t have the funds to operate two facilities.”
Although the city does not have any plans to purchase the armory outright, Plass said he would like to hear from the community in regard to buying the property. “If the community could rally around and buy it,” he said, perhaps in joint effort with the city, the property could be restored and set to community use.
The property would need to undergo some expensive renovations before it could be used, Plass added, including the removal of lead paint and asbestos.
The armory was not always an abandoned safety hazard, according to Plass. “When I was growing up here cars lined that street,” he said. “It was an engineering academy. A lot of people I know were members of the National Guard. They were extremely active . it was well used. It was a great thing for the city to do back in the 50s to give that property to the state to build an armory.”
It was another time, said Plass, the era of the Cold War; in a time when there was a fallout shelter beneath the Bank of America, and duck and cover was a bread and butter drill at the local schools. He said it was comforting for the community to have the National Guard there.
However, in the late 80s or early 90s, according to Plass, use of the armory began to wind down. “They would store vehicles there . sometimes they rented it out for little parties,” he said. Then it all went quiet.
According to Assistant Deputy Director of the Department of General Services Michael Liang,
“Interested parties will need to determine their own value for the property and submit a written offer.”.