SANTA ROSA -- A downtown Santa Rosa property once approved for 14 stories condominiums and shops before economic conditions made the project infeasible sold to a Berkeley-based property investor who plans exterior maintenance to the existing movie theater complex in the next five years.
Comstock Commons LLC purchased the property at 620 Third St. from an affiliate of Luther Burbank Savings on Feb. 10 for $910,000, according to public records. The property was listed for sale at $995,000 and received multiple offers.
About a year ago, the bank foreclosed on the property to recoup $4.54 million outstanding on a loan to a Novato-based developer of the mid-rise project.
The 20,000-square-foot Third Street Cinemas six-plex is leased to Santa Rosa-based SR Entertainment Group until the end of 2016, according to new property owner Roy Nee. Theaters have been in the building since 1976, and the operator is interested in extending that term.
"There's not much to be done with the building until that terminates," he said. "I have not made a decision one way or another."
The Nee family owns a number of Bay Area properties, including the Hink's Building movie theaters and a hotel in Berkeley. The family operated Tea Garden Springs spa in Mill Valley from 1994 until July of last year.
He's been looking for opportunities to acquire property in Santa Rosa recently, and the bank-owned property provided the opportunity.
"I think the downtown should be as vibrant as it possibly can," Mr. Nee said.
The Third Street Cinemas building will be getting a new roof. SR Entertainment recently upgraded the interior with new seating and other features.
Mr. Nee said these upgrades would fit with plans by surrounding property owners to spruce up their buildings and the courtyard between the theaters and Third Street as well as improve lighting along the path from the courtyard to the city parking garage on the pedestrian Comstock Mall behind the theaters.
620 Third Street LLC planned to start construction in 2007 on a $50 million building with 116 condominiums plus parking and shops in a 252,000-square-foot project called The Comstock. By that time, falling housing prices in Sonoma County made the project uneconomical.
Russ Mayer of Keegan & Coppin represented the Luther Burbank Savings in the sale.