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If that’s what Manteca leaders want at Qualex building legislatures could help make it work
The Qualex building is at 555 Industrial Park Drive.

Assemblyman Heath Flora has vowed to work with State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani in a bipartisan effort to remove state imposed roadblocks that would block a potential below market sale of the former Qualex photo processing building to Inner City Action for use as a Manteca homeless resource center if that is what city leaders want.

Flora, who had been contacted by Councilwoman Debby Moorhead to possibly intercede, announced during Tuesday’s State of the City at the Manteca Transit Center that he was in contact with Galgiani’s office in a bid to try to assist the local effort to address homeless issues.

 “Stanislaus County has been a good example of how we should work together to combat homelessness,” Flora, a Ripon Republican, said Thursday. “Regional solutions and partnerships with the business community can lead to fixing California’s homeless crisis.”

Galgiani is a Patterson Democrat.

The Manteca City Council on Tuesday will discuss the status of the 57,239-square-foot building at 555 Industrial Park Drive that they are under a state mandate — through an oversight committee established when redevelopment agencies were disbanded in 2011 — to auction off and split the proceeds with various taxing agencies.

In a report to the council Economic Development Manager Don Smail noted the state team that existed to deal with the disposal of RDA properties up and down the state no longer exists. There is also only one other case in California where an exception was made on the mandate to sell all RDA surplus properties at auction. That was when the California Legislature passed a specific law — Senate Bill 481 — that allowed the Sacramento RDA Successor Agency to sell the San Juan Hotel and Mobile Home Park for an amount less than fair market value to the City of Sacramento, provided the city would use the property for affordable housing.

Manteca scenario

similar to exception

legislature made for

City of Sacramento

What Inner City Action and several council members are advocating is similar to what Sacramento did but not exactly the same. They want to have the Qualex building removed from the auction and sold directly to Inner City Action for the specific purpose of providing homeless services.

Smail in his report notes the deteriorated condition of the building that includes roof replacement, asbestos removal and other needed repairs carries a price tag of $819,000 in a recent analysis. That reflects prevailing wages that government agencies have to pay as opposed to a non-profit or a private concern. He also said converting the structure for non-industrial uses would also require substantial expenditures on top of the $819,000.

Inner City representatives had said they are confident that they have benefactors that would allow them to fund the purchase of the building that the Manteca RDA bought for $3,695,000 in 2006 with the intent to convert it into a new police department and has an appraised value that had dropped to $1,500,000 by 2010. Real estate experts — without inspecting the building — believe the value may have dropped even further given structural conditions the city indicates exist and the fact converting it to new industrial use may not be as cost-effective as some contend. They point to the former Indy Electronics/Alphatec/Turnkey Solutions building across the street that has been empty for 20 plus years — several years longer than the Qualex structure. Investors who bought the building have devised two plans for that structure to house a viable concern — including an indoor RV and boat storage facility — but there have been  no takers.

Making matters worse, extensively vandalism to the former Indy building due to the fact it sat empty for two decades has also complicated repurposing the structure. The Qualex building hasn’t met a similar fate because the city has been using the RDA purchased structure for storage and fire department training.

Direct sale to Inner

City Auction could

possibly be as low as $1

One scenario that has been advanced is to make it possible for the Manteca Successor Agency to sell the structure to Inner City Action for a dollar freeing up money they have pledged and/or secure to repurpose the structure for a homeless resource center.

Such a sale scenario — whether it were for a $1 or another price below market — would require the legislature’s approval just as the Sacramento transaction did. That’s where Flora and Galgiani enter the picture.

As it stands now, Inner City Action has been looking at other sites for a resource center including the former Always Friends Preschool on Davis Street just a block from the Civic Center. State law makes it impossible for the city to block a homeless resource center in numerous zones.

If Inner City Action or another organization, for example, secures property downtown or in other commercial zones the city’s ability to block such a move is severely limited.

That aside the city views Inner City Action as an effective partner with the city and other community organizations to address persistent homeless issues. Last month they allowed Inner City to erect a tent in the Qualex parking lot to provide services that would virtually mirror what they want to offer inside of the building if they can obtain it.

During that period that got 24 people — including three children — off the streets and into established shelters and or rehab programs. They had working contact with more than 200 homeless — many on a day to day basis that is considered crucial to eventually get them agree to accept help to get off the streets.

They also made a temporary improvement in a number of homeless-related issues plaguing Manteca that go beyond simple hygiene and even feeding the homeless. They provided a place where the homeless could store their belongings instead of pushing them around the city or stashing them on public or private property behind landscaping and elsewhere.

City officials praised the Inner City Action operation that was in place for 25 days. No issues were reported in or around the resource center effort that took place in the parking lot.

The Inner City model that has been in use for years is not like St. Mary’s Dining Hall and its adjacent shelter near downtown Stockton. Those are 100 percent drop-in affairs with emphasis on feeding and sheltering on a first-come, first-served basis and basically turning them out on a daily basis.

Inner City operates a specific program. They work with homeless to build trust with the goal to eventually encourage them to step into their program. They provide shelter for only those in their programs. Not only do they work to address issues such as substance abuse but they work to make them employable so they can stand on their own two feet.

Staff proposal would

use seed money from’

auction to help fund

homeless resource

center elsewhere

Smail said staff believes the Qualex building is more likely to have new life if it is sold at auction to a private sector investor to be rehabbed for industrial users given the high demand for industrial space plus the high cost of new construction.

In such a scenario staff indicated the city could commit its 11 percent share of the at-market proceeds expected to be $110,000 to be pledged as seed capital towards a non-profit establishing a homeless resource center. They added other involved agencies might be willing to pledge all or some of their proceeds from the sale as well for the same purpose making it possible to generate $1.2 million for a homeless resource center that could end up being established in a commercial district at such varied locations as the former Kmart building on Northgate Drive that is problematic for commercial use due its location away from high traffic corridors and other retail.

A few years back when the Qualex building was supposed to go to market with other RDA surplus properties but the city cancelled the auction, the Place of Refuge pondered buying the building and converting it into a church. That was before Great Valley Academy School that was using their church facilities on Button Avenue and looking to expand opted to relocate to Salida instead.

As things stand now, the Qualex building is set to go to auction in April unless the council takes action otherwise when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email