Monterey County

Salinas business leaders release new reports on Capital One vacant spot

Battle over Capital One building takes new turn

SALINAS, Calif. - The battle for the old Capital One building in Salinas took a new turn Thursday night at a special meeting at City Hall.

Business leaders have put together some preliminary reports that find no upside to Monterey County purchasing the building and moving in.

Recently, the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Oldtown Salinas Association and the Salinas United Business Association aligned to form "Save Our Local Economy" in light of these developments.

It took SOLE one week to compile reports from outside consultants to zero in on the economic impact of the purchase and how it will affect transportation. The consultants said the downside is overwhelming.

"It's a 180-degree turn away from best practices in the industry," said David Zehnder of Economic Planning and Systems.

"There is no MST service, there is no bus service, there is no route down there," said Jane Clayton of Hexagon Transportation Consultants out of San Jose and Gilroy.

Clayton first looked at the prime location of the county building now in downtown as it relates to transit.

"You have got six routes. Not one, not two, six routes right on the street next to the offices, with bus stops right there," she said.

Clayton said with or without a bus route near the proposed site, she expects not only more trips for employees and residents but longer journeys contributing to pollution in the city.

"People are not going to walk to there, people are not going to do any walking once they get there," she said.

And with the constant traffic from produce trucks, there are also no bike lanes making it hard to maneuver, she said.

The county responded with a statement saying in part:

"The county is not proposing to relocate the existing government center at 168 West Alisal St. The county fully supports the city's worthwhile downtown vibrancy planning work."

The board of supervisors isn't expected to make a decision on who gets the building until late July or August.

SOLE said there are a number of vacant businesses in the downtown area that would be more suitable for the county to acquire.

Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce president Paul Farmer says that it's a bit dicey to determine precisely how much available space there is - because it depends on how the Oldtown area is defined and what's counted as available space.

Currently the total amount of available space in Salinas is 533,000 square feet --which includes about 200,000 square feet for the Capital One site.  In downtown alone, there is an estimated 112,000 square feet of available space, Farmer said.

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