Developer receives $400,000 for Calexico housing project

April 11, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The third time was the charm for developer Sam Jack.

At previous meetings of the Calexico Redevelopment Agency, the City Council, seated as the RDA board, turned down Jack's request for $1.4 million and, when he came back a second time, his request for $1 million.

Jack, of Sam Jack and Associates of Indio, has been asking the agency for money to help him build 80 affordable family homes next to William Moreno Junior High School at the corner of Kloke Avenue and Highway 98.

On Tuesday the agency voted unanimously to grant Jack $400,000 for his project.

Juan Verdugo, the city's director of economic and community development, said Jack will come up with the rest of the money he needs to build the project through state loans.


Mayor Victor Carrillo saluted Jack for his patience and diligence.

Councilman John Renison said the project would improve the blighted condition of the lot next to the school and provide needed housing for families who take their children to Moreno and surrounding schools.

Councilman Gilbert Grijalva said he was glad the project is going forward and said it would improve the "synergy" of the area near the high school.

"Mr. Jack, we are all aware of your reputation as a fine builder and I congratulate you on your persistence," Grijalva said.

Verdugo said when Jack asked for the $1.4 million two and a half years ago, the board thought it "excessive."

When he came back months later and asked for $1 million, the board decided to fund a Calexico Housing Authority project instead.

This time the board gave Jack $75,000 outright and loaned the developer $325,000.

The loan will be paid off by taxes taken in by the project and should be repaid in 15 years, according to Verdugo.

Verdugo said the project will be "lush," replete with grass landscaping, and compared the plans favorably to Jack's housing developments in the Indio area.

Jack smiled after the unanimous vote and said, "We'll build you a fine project."

Another project that could be coming to Calexico was announced at the start of Tuesday's meeting.

John McClendon, attorney for the Raul Estrada family of Calexico, said the family has been talking to a developer about building a hotel and an Applebee's Restaurant on land on Scaroni Road north of the Calexico 10 Theaters.

"That area is a huge missed opportunity," McClendon said.

He called the theater an anchor that could bring people to the restaurant and hotel and other future developments.

The board directed City Manager Richard Inman to continue talks with the developer and the Estrada family about a public-private partnership.

In one of the more humorous moments of Tuesday's meeting, a group of about 12 skateboarders walked into the chambers to voice their support for the Nosotros Park skateboard park site near Calexico.

Carrillo welcomed the youths but informed them the council was only voting Tuesday night to set a public meeting for April 24.

He urged the skateboarders to come back in two weeks and "bring thousands of people."

Renison joked, "Bring those that want it."

"Yeah, we'll set up a ramp in the center," Carrillo added.

Grijalva said it is important to hear from all members of the community because some residents might not want a skateboard park in their back yard.

The board decided to hear from all parties concerned at the April 24 meeting, look at plans for the sites and vote to move forward with the two approved sites or find alternatives.

Carrillo said the city has already set aside money for two skate parks, one on the west and one on the east side of town.

In addition to the Nosotros Park site, a skate park is tentatively planned for the corner of Harrington Street and Rancho Frontera Avenue on the east side of town.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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