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City eyes 13,000-square-foot building
302 Cherry lane

Manteca is exploring the possibility of acquiring a two-story office building they have rented space in for more than a decade that’s located across the street from the Civic Center.

The City Council is meeting in closed session Tuesday to discuss price and possible terms of payment to acquire the Westside Commons property at 302 Cherry Lane.

The 13,000-square-foot building just across the street from the northeast edge of the city hall complex currently houses the city’s Information & Technology Department, Human Resources & Risk Management as well as the city’s emergency command center. There are also several private tenants.

The building has an assessed valuation of $1.6 million. It was built in 1980.

Sixteen years ago the city looked at a proposal that would have cost in excess of $20 million back then to build a two-story city hall at the current site at 1001 W. Center. Then in 2009 the council at the time took another look at city hall space needs and balanced then against pressing vehicle maintenance space needs as well as the need for a new police station.

At the time the council made it clear that a new city hall was at the bottom of the list among those three needs. Then Mayor Willie Weatherford went as far as saying he’d prefer a strategy that involved acquiring nearby buildings such as is now being considered.

Weatherford argued that the city had more pressing issues for public amenities than building a new city hall. He also noted changing technology was reshaping the workforce space needs as well as redefining what constitutes an office.

The Great Recession, which trimmed the city’s workforce, also took pressure off of space issues at the civic center.

The council has yet to adopt any official plans for either a future police station or city hall. The possibility of buying the office building at 302 Cherry Lane first came up in the mid-year budget review when the council noted not only was the city long-term renters but would continue to be so for a significant time to come.

They were also felt given the city was investing significantly in an emergency command center for major incidents such as was needed during the 1997 floods that it made more sense for the city to own the building and not possibly be forced down the road to relocate the command center. It was also mentioned that additional space in the building could be used to house city operations when the need eventually arises.

The first phase of the existing Civic Center was completed in 1978. It is the city’s second city hall that wasn’t rented space. The first city hall was the two-story brick office building that is in the 100 block of Sycamore Avenue.

More than a thousand residents turned out on Nov. 2, 1923 to celebrate the laying of the corner stone for the first City Hall.

The 52 by 84 foot building not only housed the city clerk and city marshal offices on the first floor but also the post office along with the city jail and fire engine. The second floor was designed for council chambers as well as the dormitory and club room for the fire department. Even at that, there was space left over to initially lease four rooms to the San Joaquin County Health Department.

Ben Cantu, who is challenging DeBrum for the mayor’s post in the Nov. 6 election, has made building a new city hall a cornerstone of his previous campaigns. He believes a new city hall built downtown would provide not just needed space but serve as the catalyst to bring new economic and cultural life into the central district.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email