City enters into exclusive negotiating agreement for Thyme Square affordable housing

January 20, 2021

At a Cloverdale City Council meeting last week, the council gave the green light for the city to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Integrated Community Development for the possible development of affordable housing units on Lot A of the city’s South Cloverdale Boulevard Thyme Square property.
Vice Mayor Marta Cruz recused herself from the item, since she lives near Thyme Square, and Mayor Jason Turner was absent from the meeting. As such, Councilmember Melanie Bagby presided over the discussion. It was approved 3-0.
Integrated Community Development was the developer of the Cloverdale Family Apartments, which are located near Thyme Square, and is currently working to develop the Baumgardner Ranch property on the south end of town.
An exclusive negotiating agreement doesn’t finalize development on the land and doesn’t set any plans in stone — rather, it allows the city to formally enter into discussions with the developer about the project with the goal of working toward a more specific development agreement.
The exclusive agreement is for six months, but can be extended if needed. When it comes to an anticipated timeline for when the council might see a more specific agreement come forth, Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director Kevin Thompson said that the city will have some sort of conceptual design in the next six months, but that a timeline for when the design is ready is ultimately up to the developer.
In the meantime, the city will work with Integrated Community Development to outline other pieces of the development agreement, such as what level of affordability (low, very low, moderate) the units will be.
According to Thompson, the redevelopment money the city used to purchase Thyme Square was affordable housing money.
"So ideally, affordable housing is developed there," he said. "It’s always been our goal, and this is going back 10-12 years. The money used to purchase the land initially was affordable housing money with the intent of building affordable housing. If we build something else, we have to pay back the housing fund."
During public comment about the item, both Cloverdale Unified School District Superintendent Betha MacClain and CUSD Board of Trustees President Preston Addison emphasized that the city and the developer take into account the impact that additional housing will have on the school district.
"(I’m) absolutely supportive of development, both personally and for the schools and for the community, but would hope that we would consider the needs of the children that will be coming to our community with these new developments. Smart community development takes into account the educational needs of our kids. In particular, these affordable housing units bring the most vulnerable students socioeconomically, to our community, so they are even more deserving of having their educational needs looked out for … many communities that profess smart development make sure that developers take those needs into account when they’re bringing more homes into a community," Addison said, noting that the district has spent hours looking at ways to fund more classrooms for the district to accommodate the students that are likely to move into town once the Baumgardner Ranch development is completed.
"After years of research, we’ve found that there is no funding mechanism from the state to take care of these students’ facility needs. It only can come from our city government by requiring that that is taken care of … please consider that while you’re developing these agreements," he continued.
MacClain echoed Addison, stressing that the city and the developer think of the needs of the whole community — children included — when developing plans going forward, especially considering that the property is near Washington School.
"This is really a very preliminary agreement to codify basically the hand-shake agreement we had with the developer at an earlier meeting. To go ahead and enter into an exclusive agreement is basically putting it in contract form and keeping our word," Bagby said, closing out the item.
What about the old lot plans?
In talks that the city had about the development of Thyme Square a few years ago, Lot A had been proposed as a potential location for a new police station. However, after speaking with an architect the city realized that the price tag for the project would be unrealistic for the city to take on.
"We had an architect help us do some preliminary work on the police station and the bottom line is that it was coming in at $17 million or $18 million, and that was after we cut back on a lot of things that we were looking to do there," said Thompson. "We would have to bond money and I’m not even sure if we would be able to get the money."
Instead, the city decided to look at the current police station and hire an architect and design team to give the city proposals about how it can remodel the existing facility, which Thompson says is big enough for the department’s needs and could be remodeled for a much lower price to fit what they want.

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