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Numbers tossed out in council meeting exchange points to part of high cost of tackling Manteca homeless issues
qualex front
The Qualex building in the Manteca Industrial Park.

It could cost as much as $9.1 million for the city to buy and establish a resource center and/or shelter for homeless at the former Qualex building at 555 Industrial Park Drive.

And that’s before you consider annual costs of running homeless programs and upkeep.

The $9.1 million figure is the result of an exchange between staff and council  on Tuesday regarding numbers involving purchasing and getting the building prepped for use. Staff answered an inquiry from council what it could cost to rehab the structure that other agencies spent between $161 and $500 a square foot including needed equipment.

Councilman Gary Singh asked how much square feet would need to be rehabbed. Staff responded 40,000 square feet even though the building’s entire footprint is 57,329 square feet.

Making a quick calculation Singh commented at $200 a square foot for 40,000 square feet that would be $8 million. Coupled with a new $1.1 million appraisal, if the $200 per square foot figure reflects reality it would cost Manteca $9.1 million before annual programming costs are factored into the equation.

That prompted City Manager Miranda Lutzow to caution against talking numbers emphasizing that realistic cost estimates would be obtained once DeNovo Planning completes their assessment of the Qualex building. That study is costing $62,700. Detailed information and more specific cost estimates would be available in the coming month or so.

Lutzow reminded the council they wanted that study to be done before they made a decision whether to proceed with purchasing the building for use in establishing solutions to help address ongoing homeless issues.

Lutzow also added that the staff would seek funding from federal and state sources first.

Through the now defunct Redevelopment Agency, a previous Manteca council spent $3.6 million to buy the Qualex building 14 years ago and almost another $2 million in preliminary work with the intent to convert it into new police headquarters before walking away from the project. That $4.6 million is from bonds that a large number of Manteca property owners are still paying off for another 15 years. The cost figure does not reflect interest the impacted taxpayers are helping cover.

The premature inquiry into costs came after the council was updated on inspections now taking place. As an example consultants have found mold that will require the removal of all insulation and drywall. In addition there is asbestos in the floor tile and lead paint in the bathrooms. The city already was aware a new roof was needed.

“The more the costs go up for the building I feel this is not the right place,” Councilman Debby Moorhead said.

Mayor Ben Cantu said there are no good places to place a homeless resource center and/or shelter. He emphasized, though, that if Manteca wants to make any headway into the homeless problem there needs to be at least a resource center.

Lutzow noted that it will take more than the two police officers committed to homeless issues to have more success.

“It will cost (money),” she said.

Firms that employ hundreds of workers are also pushing back on city plans to open a resource center and/or shelter for the homeless in the heart of the Manteca Industrial Park.

Property and firm owners — unable to express their frustrations and fears in person due to the pandemic eliminating their ability to do so — sent seven letters read to the Manteca City Council Tuesday night.

They told of homeless breaking into buildings, defecating in doorways and property, merchandise being stolen off of trucks, trash dumped on their property, drug paraphernalia strewn about, a  homeless entering offices and aggressively panhandling staff, fences being cut, vandalism, and their employees fearing for their safety.

“I understand what these business owners are going through,” Moorhead said. “There are homeless around (the industrial park) whether or not the tent is there are not.”

Lutzow noted she has been in contact with property owners and employers in the industrial park regarding their concerns.

 “We recognize it is going to have to be a comprehensive effort” and that includes engaging neighboring businesses on how issues they have can be addressed if the council decides to move forward.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email