They say you can’t fight City Hall — but apparently in Stockton you can buy it.
Stockton City Council voted on Tuesday to give exclusive negotiating rights to Cort Companies, a group that wants to develop the 93-year-old historic City Hall building into market rate housing and retail on the ground floor.
The facade would be preserved, but inside would be 35 housing units.
The plan also includes building an 80-unit family residence and community center in place of three municipal buildings adjacent to City Hall.
Mayor Michael Tubbs supports the project. “How many conversations have we had about housing, housing, housing. We have a project that could use a city building for housing,” he said.
But others like Wesley Swanson with the Cultural Heritage Board questioned whether the project would work.
“It’s essentially a government building with very specific usages, and it has significant problems with age and infrastructure and so forth. It’s not something that can be easily converted into something like housing,” he said.
And some were deeply opposed to the idea.
“Historic City Hall should never, ever be sold or altered. It’s the crown jewel of Stockton,” said resident Brian Trebino.
City government is scheduled to move to a new City Hall in a couple of years, and Tubbs says it makes sense to explore options.
“It’s a no brainer to at least negotiate,” the mayor said, adding that the city could end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for a vacant City Hall.