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October 1, 2023

‘Surplus’ designation sets stage for future Gilroy Gardens development

The Gilroy City Council agreed to declare the property Gilroy Gardens sits on as surplus on Feb. 27, a state-required action that will later allow the city to move forward with its plans to transform the area with new recreational attractions.

In recent years, city officials have been eyeing Gilroy Gardens and the hillside behind it, now referred to as the “Recreation Gateway Area,” as an opportunity to draw more visitors to Gilroy and add more recreational options.

Select Contracts was one of two companies that responded to a request for proposals from the city in early 2021 to develop the acreage behind the theme park as a recreation and tourism destination.

It was delayed later in the year, when the city was required to go through a state-mandated process, known as the Surplus Land Act, to advertise the 342-acre hillside property to affordable housing developers before it could continue negotiations.

Under the law, affordable housing developers have 60 days to state their interest after a jurisdiction declares the property a surplus. If a developer does step forward, the jurisdiction must enter into “good-faith” negotiations with them for 90 days.

The city is not required to sell the property under the act.

No housing developers stepped forward during that period.

In September, the council entered into a one-year exclusive negotiating agreement with Select Contracts to discuss financials and other aspects of a proposed bike and adventure park on the hillside.

City spokesperson Rachelle Bedell said that while no formal agreement has been reached with Select Contracts, the city remains in a negotiating relationship with them, although it is not exclusive.

City Administrator Jimmy Forbis said the city now needs to declare the remaining 194 acres, which includes the theme park proper, as surplus, as that property has received some interest.

Forbis noted that any tourism-oriented development on the property would likely be years away.

“Probably in the last three years I’ve received 10 phone calls asking about the property,” he said. “I don’t get too excited or too far down the road until I see something in writing. There’s a lot of ideas out there.”

Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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