Monday, March 19, 2007

Ex-Ford Site Joins Kamphausen Holdings

Ex-Ford Site Joins Kamphausen Holdings
By RICH FREEDMAN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

Vallejo officials aren't about to rename the town "Buckville," but it could be getting closer.

The owner of Skyview Memorial Lawn has purchased the building that housed Wilson-Cornelius Ford for more than 50 years.

Though Buck Kamphausen is "leaving options open" on the property at 1301 Georgia St., the businessman and philanthropist is set on the 26 units that are townhouses on Broadway Street, the home of City Lights cafe on the 400 block of Virginia Street, and the 900 block of Marin and Florida, a complex that could include an English pub.

There were rumors the former Ford structure would become an auto museum to complement the USA World Classics Events Center downtown, but that's highly unlikely, said Phil Elfstrom, vice president of Kamphausen's corporation.

"We've had a lot of interest in the building," Elfstrom said, adding that while another car museum is against the odds, "I'm not saying it won't be auto-related."

Kamphausen's crew is in the process of converting three dilapidated units across from the Vallejo Artists Guild at Marin and Florida streets into viable retail spaces, possibly including a pub, Elfstrom said, noting that the Vallejo Police Activities League Boxing Club occupies one unit and will remain "at least a year."

Kamphausen plans to improve the club's conditions. "Buck is committed to a long-standing relationship" with PAL, said Elfstrom. "He recognizes the positive effects the place has on the kids and the community."

As for the remaining empty units blue-printed by ARC Inc. architects, "we plan on taking the building and making it something special," Elfstrom said.

Elfstrom said the relocation of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce into the office space at the events center at 1525 Sonoma Blvd. has evolved into "a great relationship," and the rentals at the facility will triple last year's.

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