Last January, the city of Placerville finalized a lease with option to purchase agreement with A.M. Pacific Engineering for the old City Hall buildings at 487 Main St. This January, the buildings are, once again, up for sale.
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The buildings, locally known as “catsup and mustard” for their exterior colors, were for sale for about three years before the A.M. Pacific Engineering agreement. The local engineering firm’s plans for restoration of the historical buildings were highly anticipated by downtown merchants and visitors alike. Photographs of the original look of the buildings were posted on the windows to give the public an idea of what they would look like when renovated.
The red Confidence building was built in 1860, housing the volunteer fire department, while the yellow building next door was built by “Emigrant Jane” Johnson in 1861. The buildings share a common wall and housed City Hall and its offices from 1902 to 2005.
The restoration project, a combination of public and private enterprises with the city and the engineering firm working together to streamline the process of restoration, began with much enthusiasm, but fizzled when the already extensive damage to the buildings was worse than appeared.
“There is more damage than we first noticed and the lease option agreement fell through,” said City Manager Cleve Morris. “We put it back on the market for the same price, $625,000, but we are still looking at engineering reports and the price may change.”
A crack in the west side of one of the buildings in particular was of issue.
“When they got inside and tore out the dry wall, they discovered that the crack was more extensive than it had looked from the outside and was going to require significant repair, ” said Peter McQuillen of TEAM Realty, the Realtor that brokered the lease/option deal between the city and A.M. Engineering.
“We’re continuing to work on this. It’s going to require someone with experience and mental fortitude,” said McQuillen. “We may have another local contractor who is interested in doing the same type of restoration. The two buildings, the former Confidence building and the Emigrant Jane building have been treated as one building by the city, sharing utilities. Part of the restoration plan was to separate the two buildings and renovate them individually.
“We’re hoping to have something in place by the end of this month,” said McQuillen. “We need to get this up and running. It would be good for the downtown.”
The Mountain Democrat was not able to contact A.M. Engineering for comment.