The back building is being sold to an auto body repair shop that is relocating from within the area, sources said. Escrow is expected to close this summer on both sites once certain contingencies are met.
The status of the sale at 400 Idaho-Maryland Road — in a highly visible location off of Highway 49 — had been closely held, but word is starting to leak out.
The vacated building with browned shrubbery — once a brand new auto showroom (and needed source of sales tax receipts) — has come to symbolize the area’s deep economic slump, so closing the deals will be a step forward.
The 30,000-foot site was divided into two separate parcels to hasten a sale: the larger service building in back and the showroom in front.
It comes as focus groups are meeting to discuss a recent real estate survey in Grass Valley — a process that is expected to lead to big-box retail on the south border of Grass Valley.
So far, downtown merchants have not spoken out against the big-box development. This has been an issue with previous projects, such as the original version of the Loma Rica housing project, which had a small retail element.
A recent hike in the Grass Valley sales tax receipts should be a boon to the city’s coffers, but that is contingent on increased sales. It is by no means an automatic panacea — a reminder of the long “row to hoe” when it comes to economic development in our area, long dependent on the boom-and-bust cycles of real estate and construction.
My longtime thoughts: We need to tout our unique attributes, such as our cute historic downtowns and marvelous outdoor activities; we need much more economic diversity, and we need to become much less insular politically. Will it happen? I’m not very optimistic, but I’ll keep an open mind.