Monday, April 11, 2005

Solano County gets involved in downtown land swap

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Apr 09, 2005 - 12:11:46 am PDT

Solano gets involved in land swap

By Matthew Bunk

Three levels of government would feel the effects of what's shaping up to be downtown's largest land swap in memory. Unless one of the parties backs out at the last minute, the city of Fairfield is about to become the new owner of a prominent piece of land downtown and the county will take over a nearby city-owned building - the post office.

The deal would cost the county $1 million and force the U.S. Postal Service, either next year or in 2011, to find a new home in Fairfield.The Solano County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the matter Tuesday. The board could then authorize the county administrator to finalize the deal. In an earlier decision that was part of the same arrangement, the county turned over the old courthouse annex to the city, which intends to tear it down to make room for a parking lot. Both parties agreed to that part of the trade last week.

In government jargon, the land deal brings closure to "Phase 1 of the County Facilities Master Plan in downtown Fairfield and the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the county," as written in a report to the supervisors. A further look reveals the land trade is part of an agreement to use government property in Fairfield more efficiently. The scheme originated in 1999 when the county began planning for the construction of the six-story Solano County Government Center, which recently opened downtown.

Here's how it works:

  • The city would buy the county Hall of Records building at 701 Texas St. and the vacant bank building next door for $950,000.
  • City officials have indicated they would turn around and sell that property to a local developer, who would tear down both buildings and put up a new mixed-use building for retail shops and apartments.
  • The county would buy the city-owned property at 600 Kentucky St., which is under lease to the Postal Service, for about $1.8 million.
The county wants to use the two buildings there for vehicle storage. The county would pay Fairfield $1 million, in four yearly payments of roughly $251,000, to cover the difference in the sale prices. The current lease to the Postal Service would nearly cover the county's yearly payments. But the lease will run out next year unless the post office finds a new home and decides not to exercise its five-year option on the property.

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

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