The Sweetwater school district owns several properties that it is trying to flip into condo/apartment developments. The properties, located in western Chula Vista, are on L Street, Third Avenue, Fifth Avenue (district headquarters), and Moss Avenue.
The Reader reported last month that in March 2012, then–interim superintendent Brand asked the board to approve the use of funds — $347,500 — from the district’s special reserve for a vaguely worded resolution involving the “hiring of E2 ManageTech to begin the process of re-entitling the district non school properties for future development of L Street.”
The L Street property was originally purchased in 2004, intended for the relocation of district headquarters.
Brand encouraged the board to support the resolution by stating that the district’s L Street property was “underwater” and that their options were “bad, awful, and worse.”
Trustee Pearl Quiñones expressed concern about the repetitious use of monies for consultants and market studies and requested that the board be updated soon.
A year has gone by without a public update.
An excerpt from the E2 ManageTech report, dated May 2012, shows that while the deals run apace, the administration dallies about telling the public:
“Dianne [Russo former interim chief financial officer] felt that at this time, our group need not make a periodic formal Board presentation. (She will recommend when it will be appropriate for our group to make said presentation.)” Russo is now retired.
E2 ManageTech, according to the records request, subcontracted to several companies, which are working toward making all four of the district properties “shovel-ready” for development.
The project closest to shovel-ready is 435 Third Avenue. According to Janet Kluth, the City of Chula Vista’s program manager for the Third Avenue project, it includes 162 apartment/condo units, 2800 square feet of commercial space, and enclosed parking.
In a February 28 email, Kluth said project plans are due to be resubmitted next week and a community meeting about the project will soon follow. Because the project includes a rezone, it will have to go before both the planning commission and the city council.
The Sweetwater school district’s representative for negotiations with the city is Chuck Diamond, of HTI Property. I contacted him with a set of questions about the project. Diamond said he would have to clear his response with the district.
I wanted to know: Is there a developer interested in the project? If a developer does not pick it up, what then? Will your company receive a percentage of any project that is developed? Is there a precedent in California for a district developing residential/commercial property?
On March 4, Diamond responded:
“I spoke to [the Sweetwater Union High School] District about your desire to interview me for your paper. I must respectfully turn-down the opportunity to be interviewed, by you, for your paper.”
The Sweetwater school district has also submitted a pre-application request to the City of Chula Vista on January 14 to build 800 residential units on L Street.
There are several peculiar things about this request. Sweetwater used bond money to buy this land — ostensibly for district headquarters. Then, the district put the property into the hands of California Trust/Nine Partners, LLC.
Marc Litchman of Nine Partners publicly asserts he is the owner of the land. Litchman has met with the Southwest Community Group and individual community members. In California Trust's mission statement, it says Litchman will develop property and do outreach.