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Downtown Project Moves Closer To Final Approval

Progress is slowly being made on the conversion of the former city offices in the downtown area to a new housing and business complex.

In a public hearing earlier this month at the Escalon Planning Commission meeting, the issues dealt with included rezoning several properties to Planned Development and approval of a subdivision map.

Properties include 1850 and 1854 Main Street, 1528 E. Third and 1855 Coley Avenue; all of which were part of the former City Hall-Planning-Police Department complex prior to the move to new city offices on McHenry Avenue.

As proposed, the plan would see re-modeling of some of the existing structures along with construction of additional buildings to create a “mixed-used development.” Among those mixed uses would be eight independent townhouses, one office/retail space, a 10-unit storage building an on-site parking.

“There were a couple of people in the audience, including a neighboring property owner but they didn’t have any concerns,” City Manager Tammy Alcantor noted of the public hearing. “Certain aspects of it the Planning Commission approved but the overall project has to go to the City Council.”

Alcantor said the Planning Commission “gave their blessing” to the site plan as presented and it now will go to the council for review and possible action.

“Staff will also get together a draft development agreement with the applicant,” she explained.

Officials are hopeful that formal council approval for the project will come early in the new year, with work then able to start on turning the long-vacant city complex into housing and retail space.

“It’s exciting,” admitted Alcantor. “We’re eager to get it underway.”

Meanwhile, at the Escalon City Council meeting earlier this month, the council appointed Eric Morrill and Debbie Murken to serve on the Escalon Recreation Commission, filling two posts expiring this month. The terms are for three years and both Morrill and Murken have been actively involved with local youth programs over the years. Morrill is a current coach and Murken is a past Recreation Commissioner.

The council also unanimously approved a resolution that authorizes prequalification of bidders for public works contracts.

Alcantor said the move is designed to “ensure that the city is awarding public works projects to qualified low bidders” by having those potential bidders pre-qualify in advance of bidding on the work.

The resolution will require an annual prequalification for bidders on public works projects which will require a Class A contractor’s license with a contract amount in excess of $10,000 or as determined by the City Engineer. The resolution also sets in place an appeals process, including deposit, for bidders who are deemed “not qualified” by the city.

At the council’s Nov. 20 meeting, comment was taken on Unmet Transit Needs in a public hearing, with the majority of those commenting asking that the current transit service be maintained and that those living outside the city limits should also be taken into account when routes are being developed.

Alcantor said the comments made will be shared with the San Joaquin Council of Governments and Regional Transit District.

Council members also approved additional funding for a storm drain project on Roosevelt Avenue.

“Staff is hoping that the contractor will be able to get out in the next three to four weeks to get that improvement done,” Alcantor said.

The project should take an estimated seven to 10 days, she added, depending on weather.