City to decide whether to sell, lease old Mackinnon fire station

City to decide whether to sell, lease old Mackinnon fire station
The Encinitas City Council decides on what to do for the old Fire Station No. 2 at the corner of Mackinnon Avenue and Birmingham Drive at its Wednesday meeting. Photo by Tony Cagala

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council will consider whether to sell or lease an old fire station in Cardiff-by-the-Sea to one of five suitors, or do nothing at all.

The city over the past few months had solicited proposals for the former Fire Station No. 2, located near the corner of Mackinnon Avenue and Birmingham Drive. It received five proposals, three for an outright purchase, one for an outright lease and another that has options for both a lease and a purchase.

After analyzing the proposals, city staff signaled their preference for three:

  • A proposed $500,000 purchase by Najjar Enterprises, LLC, which is 22 percent higher than the building’s $410,000 appraised value. John Najjar is the owner of Cardiff Seaside Market and sees the property as an investment opportunity and will work with the city to find the proper tenant.
  • An offer for $410,000 by John and Whitney Musser, who want to convert the property into a residential property. According to a city staff report, their offer is contingent on a satisfactory property inspection and they would also incur the cost of rezoning the property, which would require a local election.
  • GJ Trippe Inc.’s hybrid lease-or-purchase proposal to operate a non-emergency ambulance service. The company’s purchase offer is for $420,000, and its lease offer is for five years, $2,500 a month, with the company committing to $40,000 in tenant improvements.

City staff did not favor two of the options:

  • A proposed $450,000 by Chad Dunham, who wants to convert it into a house, but expects the city to bear the costs of re-zoning the property from its current public zoning to residential zoning.
  • An offer by local beach cleanup nonprofit H2O Trash Patrol to lease it for 36 months for $2,000 a month with an option to buy the property outright at the lease’s conclusion. City staff said the use is not allowed in the current zoning and would require an election to change the designation. Additionally, it said that Trippe’s lease offer of $2,500 a month is higher than the nonprofit’s.

The council in January authorized staff to issue a request for letters of interest to purchase or lease the 52-year-old fire station, which closed its doors in 2012 to make way for a new fire station on Birmingham Drive. The council emphasized at the time that it was more interested in leasing the property as opposed to selling it.

A group of city staff management analysts as well as a staffer from the city of San Marcos formed the team that evaluated each of the proposals. San Marcos’ advice was solicited as it has a significant amount of city property that it almost exclusively leases, according to a staff report.

The City Council will weigh the options at Wednesday night’s council meeting.


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