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RDA OKs $5.2 million in bonds

December 20, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Thanks to a $5.2 million assist from this city's Redevelopment Agency, Sam Jack of Indio is closer to nabbing $9 million in public financing for the construction of low-income apartments here.

On Tuesday the Calexico City Council here, seated as the city Redevelopment Agency board, voted 3-1 to approve issuing $5.2 million in "multi-family housing revenue bonds" to be sold to a consortium of lenders.

Jack said the money from the sale would be used by his limited partnership, Calexico Gardens, to build "garden-style" apartments just south of William Moreno Junior High in west Calexico.

Jack still needs $3 million more in state funding before he can begin construction. He applied for that money Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the RDA board's action and Jack's plans have spurred the Calexico Unified School District.

The district is looking into buying the acreage next to Moreno Junior High to build additions and convert Moreno into the city's second high school.


Contacted Wednesday, school district Superintendent Roberto Moreno said, "We are still very much interested in that site."

"The initial response to the idea of having a high school there has been very positive," he added.

Moreno said the district would need to "put the foot down on the accelerator" and get that property appraised to make Jack an offer as soon as possible.

If Jack spurns the district's offer, Moreno said the district could invoke its eminent domain powers to purchase the property.

Moreno said the district doesn't need to seek state approval to build a school on the site before buying the land.

The board's decision to issue the housing bonds marks the third time this year the RDA has helped Jack put together financing for his apartment project.

Earlier this year, Jack was given $425,000 in grants and a $350,000 loan from the RDA to apply for state funding. Before that, the board gave Jack a $75,000 grant and the aforementioned loan.

Both times Jack said he was requesting RDA funds so he could apply for state funding.

Since the board granted his two requests, his numerous attempts to secure state funding have failed.

On Tuesday he asked the board to approve the issuance of the bonds so he could apply for state funds again.

This time he is applying for funds that are set aside to provide housing to farm workers.

Jack said the deadline to apply for that funding source was 3 p.m. Wednesday. Information on whether he met the deadline was unavailable.

Before he could submit his application, he needed to know if the money from the bonds would be included in his financing plans, he said.

Calexico Planning Commissioner Arturo Selwick reminded the council before the vote that Jack came before the RDA board earlier this year with an "urgent" request.

During that meeting Councilman Javier Alatorre took exception to the last-minute nature of Jack's request.

Despite his concerns, the board voted 3-2 to approve a $350,000 grant to Jack — in addition to the $75,000 the board granted earlier — and the $350,000 loan.

On Tuesday, Alatorre again took exception to Jack's request.

"I was given this (the backup materials) at 10 o'clock last night. I haven't had time to review it. I can't support it," he said.

The other three councilmen voted to approve the issuance of bonds. Councilman Frank Montoya did not attend the meeting because he was ill.

When February rolls around, Jack will have spent four years trying to build low-income apartments in Calexico.

In 1997, his proposal to build a 70-unit complex north of the All-American Canal at the corner of Rancho Frontera and Zapata streets was rejected by the city Planning Commission because the proposed complex didn't conform to existing plans for the area.

Residents near the site had threatened to protest if the commission approved his plans.

In 1999, Jack was back.

He asked the RDA board for $1.4 million to help build an apartment complex at the site he is trying to build on now. The board rejected the request.

In 2000, he returned to ask for $1 million. No dice that time, either.

This year, he aimed lower, asking for a $75,000 grant and a $325,000 loan.

The board approved that amount, then months later, bumped up the grant amount to $425,000 in addition to the $325,000 loan.

After the meeting, Jack said he hopes to break ground on the apartments by next summer.

Jack said the city's bond rating would not be affected if rents collected at the complex failed to produce enough revenue since the lenders would just foreclose on the land to recoup their investment.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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