Chanate Road campus buyer’s plans could include housing, retail, hotel, golf course or casino
The Las Vegas developer who earlier this month submitted the winning bid for the Chanate Road campus in northeast Santa Rosa says his plans for the county property could include housing, retail storefronts, a hotel and resort, golf course or potentially even a casino.
In an auction sale on Nov. 9, Eddie Haddad, a longtime real estate broker who has bought up hundreds of foreclosed homes in Nevada, offered $15.05 million for the nearly 72-acre property.
Last week, county supervisors unanimously approved selling the Chanate campus for the full bid price to Haddad and his company Resources Group LLC. The sale, the county’s fifth attempt to offload the property, is set to be finalized on Dec. 22.
In interviews, Haddad said he aims to work closely with neighbors to come up with a proposal for the site that makes sense for the community and is also financially feasible. Previous developer proposals have bogged down amid neighborhood opposition or failed to advance through purchase talks with the county.
“We have to come together to talk these things through,” Haddad said. “If everybody's comfortable with a nice resort, even a casino — I don’t know.”
For the past seven years, the Chanate property — home of the former community hospital and county offices — has sat mostly vacant after its primary occupant, Sutter Health, relocated to its new hospital site on Mark West Springs Road.
Vandalism, rising maintenance costs, a bruising court battle with neighbors and the specter of a fault line running under the property have since clouded the fate of the crumbling campus — which officials have long eyed for hundreds of new homes as the region has struggled through an intensifying housing shortage.
Haddad said a future project could include single-family homes and apartments, though he declined to put a number on how many units he might plan to build. The property carries an affordable housing covenant, meaning at least 15% of all homes on the site must be reserved for people with low- or moderate-incomes.
In addition to new housing, Haddad said, a hotel, golf course, small shopping center and tribal casino are all on the table.
“We definitely want to reach out to the neighborhood and start talking about whether there’s any desire for commercial (development), or is it going to be residential only?” Haddad said.
In winning the property at auction, Haddad was not required to disclose plans for the site. The only information shared with the county during the auction was each bidders’ identity and offer amount.
Supervisor Chris Coursey, who represents the area that includes the Chanate Road property, said he has not spoken with the developer or seen any vetting beyond the financial verification county staff shared with the Board of Supervisors before its vote to accept Haddad’s bid.
Asked if he had seen any additional background on the buyer, Coursey said, “I Googled him.”
Should the sale go through next month, Santa Rosa officials, including the City Council, will have final say over any proposed development at Chanate – except for a tribal casino, which would require only state and federal approval.
“The decisions here are not in my hands once the escrow is closed,” Coursey said.
The property’s sale represents the largest disposition of surplus county land in at least a generation, and finally presents an opportunity for the kind of high-profile housing project that local officials have over a decade touted for the property.
But Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers said the road to Haddad earning city approval would be “in years, not in months,” and there is likely to be strong opposition to almost any proposal put forward.
If county supervisors appear relieved to be nearing the conclusion of their ownership of Chanate, city officials are gearing up to take on the property and all its complications. But that’s not unexpected, Rogers said.
“We’ve always known that we had the ultimate land use authority on it and that it would land in our lap,” the mayor said. “It was always just a question of when and in what form.”
Big question mark for the city
Last week, Haddad had a Zoom conference call with city planning staff for an initial discussion about the site. During the call, Haddad had questions about housing development but did not inquire about uses like a golf course or resort, according to city planner Adam Ross, who was on the call.
The first time the public will likely get a look at Haddad’s official plans for the property is when he submits a description of his proposal for the site to the city. Community members will then have a chance to weigh in on Haddad’s plans, as the submission kicks off a neighborhood meeting.