Calif. City Wants to Raze Eight Hotels for Parking

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View of downtown Stockton, Calif.

What's better for downtown Stockton, Calif.: Eight hotels built between 1874 and 1914 or 130 parking spaces?

The city council will vote on that issue this summer. In the meantime, preservation groups and the city's downtown business coalition have urged the city to reconsider its demolition idea, which could cost $1 million to $2.3 million.

"The project would increase parking spaces by only two percent, while reducing the number of historic buildings that contribute to the potential Stockton Downtown Commercial Historic District (eight out of 84 buildings) by almost 10 percent," wrote Anthony Veerkamp, program manager at the National Trust's Western Office, in his Mar. 12 comments on the city's draft Environmental Impact Report, which state law requires before demolition.

The Main Hotel, Commercial Hotel, Earle Hotel, Land Hotel, La Verta Hotel, Hotel St. Leo, Hotel Terry, and Chargin Building are all empty, closed down by the city.

The Downtown Stockton Alliance's board of directors recommended that the city take time to weigh its options. In a Feb. 16 letter to the city's redevelopment agency, the board said the Environmental Impact Report did not "fully or adequately address the issues." It recommended that the city study both the structural integrity of the buildings and of the downtown parking situation.

"They felt that taking down eight hotels to replace 130 parking spaces that we are giving up ... was not addressing any future parking needs for downtown," says Kathy Miller, executive director of the Downtown Stockton Alliance "All that did was tread water for a few years."

Stockton's city council voted to demolish the Fox Theatre in the 1970s. City officials did not return phone calls to Preservation Online.

"Once something is demolished, it's gone, and we should really know why we're doing it," Miller says. "If they're coming down to be placeholders for future development, the public has the right to know that." 

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