Biz Beat

New downtown Escalon housing development invites you to live in an old police station

Developer David Leer talks about his residential project in downtown Escalon, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.
Developer David Leer talks about his residential project in downtown Escalon, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.

Ever want to live in an old police station? Or city hall? Well, soon you’ll be able to in downtown Escalon.

An innovative new housing development is coming to Main Street, which will renovate the city’s former police station and city hall buildings to become new moderate-income housing. Escalon-based project developer David Leer, of LeerCorp and Nationwide E-Brokerage, said he was excited to redevelop the former city buildings and lot into a small, eight-home subdivision called Leer Village.

“We’re setting the tone for downtown redevelopment here,” Leer said.

Some initial demolition work has already begun on the former police station, which faces Coley Avenue. That building will be renovated to contain four adjoining two-bedroom, two-bath townhouses — some with bonus rooms. The other two properties on the lot include the old city hall building, which will be converted into two two-bedroom, two-bath townhouses with a commercial office in the front, and a vacant house that will also be converted to a standalone two-bedroom, two bath home. One new two-story building will be constructed to create a three-bedroom, three bath home.

Leer Village in Escalon, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. Andy Alfaro

Leer said he plans to price the condominiums around the low-to-mid-$200,000 mark. Some of the homes will be rentals, which should run around $1,200 a month. Leasing and sales should begin in about three months.

The $1.5 million project has an aggressive six-to-eight-month timeline. Leer said he hopes to have construction on the first phase in the old police building done in about six months. Besides the eight units, the mixed-use development will include the office and a storage building. All of the parking will be covered.

Leer, who has partnered with his father William Leer on various projects for LeerCorp in the past, plans to use his father’s William E. Leer Construction Inc. as the development moves forward.

Plans for Leer Village in Downtown Escalon, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. Andy Alfaro

While LeerCorp is more known for its commercial developments, with an emphasis on renovation and rehabilitation, it’s not the company’s first housing project locally. They’ve completed the Leer Court Del Rio and Scenic River Townhomes in Modesto. They also have a number of high-profile local commercial developments in downtown Modesto, including the Leer Building on I Street, the LeerCorp Business Park on Eighth Street, and the Garcia Family Bail Bonds building on G Street.

“We’re the renovation guys. We like renovating and getting creative inside existing structures,” Leer said. “We like to get into buildings that are considered blights and turn them around.”

The two main buildings on the Leer Village site have been largely vacant since around 2009, when the City of Escalon moved into its new police headquarters and city hall buildings. All of the land on the three-quarter-acre lot, across from Main Street Park, was owned by the city and since purchased by Leer for the development.

Site of the future Leer Village in Escalon, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. Andy Alfaro

Leer said he wanted to create moderate-income housing to fill a need in the area. He expects to attract buyers and renters in the $30,000 to $80,000 income bracket locally.

“I’m a huge fan of moderate-income housing. That’s what we are in the Valley, and we have to create more,” he said.

This isn’t the only moderate-income housing development Leer has in the works for Escalon. A second project, Leer Junction, would have about a dozen three bedroom, two-bath townhomes off of Judith Way that would sell in the mid-to-upper-$200,000 range. The gated community would include one two-bedroom affordable housing unit as well. Leer said construction on that project could start in spring 2020.

Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.