City Buys Another Piece of Art Center Puzzle

The center plans call for the purchase of 14 separate lots to
make room for the $10-million center scheduled to be complete in
2008
Gilroy – City leaders have agreed to pay $380,000 for a boarded up Chinese restaurant that will one day become an art gallery and garden for the city’s arts center.

Officials signed off on the contract, which includes $50,000 in relocation costs, after more than a year of wrangling with Gin Loy Dong over the sale price. Dong’s appraiser valued the property at 7347 Monterey Street at more than $300,000, but officials initially offered just $97,000.

In July, the city struck a $340,000 deal with the Oyao family for their two Seventh Street properties – between Eigleberry and Monterey streets – where the arts center building will stand.

In the last year, the city also purchased land from three other property owners, bringing the total amount spent on land for the downtown facility to more than $2.1 million.

The city has avoided using the heavy-handed tactic of eminent domain to seize the Dong and Oyao properties, but the vast majority of land still needed for the art center may require a judge’s order.

The Gera family, who owns two storefronts on Monterey Street and the bulk of vacant land along Eigleberry Street that will provide parking for the arts center, has so far refused to settle.

City Administrator Jay Baksa predicted that officials would have to seek a court order to obtain that land, more than half of the 2.33 acres needed for the future arts center.

The city paid $300,000 in July 2004 to purchase the Mexican restaurant on the corner of Monterey and Seventh streets. The .17-acre property sits on the northwest corner of the intersection. Last December, the city settled on a $1.15-million sale price to buy the adjacent Salvation Army thrift store, at 7341 Monterey Street.

In total, the arts center plans call for the purchase of 14 separate lots. Any lawsuit with the Gera family could delay construction and increase expenses for the project, scheduled for completion by 2008 and expected to cost more than $10 million.

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