By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
If the city of Clovis succeeds, one of its most senior buildings may be housing senior citizens.
The Hotel Clovis, which opened in 1931 but has been unused since 1981, is the target of a joint cooperative development the city is currently creating, with the intent to create more housing for seniors, invigorate the downtown economy and get the property out of city hands, where it has been since 2004.
“The city really wants to move this building on,” Assistant City Clerk Claire Burroughes said. “We don’t want to be in the real estate business and never intended to be in the real estate business. The reason we got the building was for health and safety issues.”
The plan, Clovis Purchasing Agent David Boswell said, is to treat the city-owned hotel as a project similar to 801 Housing. The government would give tax credits to a developer to help offset high renovation costs.
Figuring in asbestos removal, Burroughes said, renovating the hotel for private business would cost $11 million. That cost — about $160 per square foot — is much higher than going rates for new properties.
After an agreed-upon number of years, Boswell said, the developer would be the sole owner of the building.
Ideally, the first floor could be dedicated to a few small retail shops, and the remaining eight floors would house senior citizens. Burroughes said she and City Commissioner Len Vohs went to Abilene, Texas, and got favorable reviews from seniors at a similar housing development.
Boswell added that it’s much easier to develop downtown businesses if people live within walking distance of them. He considers it a good addition to other development downtown, like Clovis Community College working on the Mesa Theater.
“If you take a residential living area, those are consumers you’re putting right down the middle of downtown,” Boswell said. “You actually stir some economic development down there because you’ve got a core group of customers to deal with.”
One area where the plan falls short, Burroughes admits, is parking for the residents. But she said that’s a solution best left to a potential developer.
Burroughes would like to get the ball rolling on the project within the next 12 months, noting the city has a 2012 demolition date if nothing gets done.
“It’s not going to realize its potential as it currently is,” she said.