By Charles Kaminski
Editor Note: San Diego architect and activist Charles Kaminski alerted SDFP to the current status of the Truax House property in his email below directed to Mayor Faulconer, the Planning Commission and various other elected officials and City staff.
I am writing to you because of the concerns I have over the delay in the sale of the City owned property known as the Truax House property at Union and Laurel streets in Uptown. I believe that this delay and possible sale are not in the best interests of the City and will explain why I believe that is the case.
The City Council approved that the sale of the Truax House property move forward late last summer. They directed Real Estate Assets (READ) to pursue the sale based on READ’s recommendation that Soheil Nakhshab Design & Development (NDD) was the most responsive to the sale based on their bid of $2.5M and their promise to preserve and restore the Truax House, provide a community space and community garden and explore a connection to Maple Canyon. It was my understanding that any purchase offer received by READ that contained any contingencies would not be brought forward to the Council as part of their recommendation. Any sale proceeds would be returned to Gas Tax funds from which the original parcel was purchased.
READ proceeded to engage with NDD for the sale.
As of this date READ and NDD have not finalized the sale of the property. I believe escrow has been extended twice. It is my understanding that the escrow was delayed to enable NDD to perform due diligence on the property. However, the sale has been postponed because NDD wants to get Planning Commission approval for a Tentative Map and Site Development Permit to split the single Truax property into three separate parcels. On June 1 the Planning Commission will hear the agenda item for the Tentative Map and Site Development Permit. If NDD receives Planning Commission approval for a lot split, NDD says they will close escrow.
This maneuver to delay escrow until Planning Commission approves the lot split appears to be a contingency that has delayed the City’s sale to NDD.
Why is the City delaying sale based on a contingency when contingencies were not initially accepted?
The owner listed on the Negative Declaration for the Site Development and Tentative Map is Mary Carlson – City of San Diego Real Estates Assets and Soheil Nakhshah, NDD Inc.
How can NDD be listed as an owner if they do not yet own the property?
The sale agreement with NDD requires that the Truax House be restored and a community space be provided. It is a designated historic city site.
How can the City guarantee that, if the parcel is split and the sale to NDD concluded, that, if for some reason NDD sells the parcel with the Truax House, that any new owner will continue with the commitment for a community room and community garden? Should the proposed sale agreement with NDD be revised to include a provision for this?
Are three parcels worth more than a single parcel?
Has READ valued three separate parcels to determine a possible cost comparison to their original estimate and the original bid by NDD of $2.5M? Could the City be leaving some additional funds off the table? Shouldn’t there be a new evaluation of the property based on three separate parcels?
The Site Development and Tentative Map do not require any indication of proposed development at the three parcels. Adjacent neighbors are concerned that the development of three separate parcels will have an adverse impact on Union Street and their adjacent properties.
NDD should explain the rationale for the lot split and their intentions for each lot.
[For more information on the Truax House property sale: San Diego Commons at the Crossroads: The Sell-Off of ‘Excess’ Properties by Jay Powell]
Charles Kaminski is a San Diego architect and activist.