Bee Investigator

New life given to two formerly blighted Modesto properties

Demolition on Casa Blanca Court in Modesto

The tearing down of eleven bungalows on Casa Blanca Court off East Coolidge Avenue east of McHenry in Modesto California on January 22, 2016. (John Westberg/jwestberg@modbee.com)
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The tearing down of eleven bungalows on Casa Blanca Court off East Coolidge Avenue east of McHenry in Modesto California on January 22, 2016. (John Westberg/jwestberg@modbee.com)

There is a new future for two Modesto properties that recently were bringing down their neighborhoods with blight.

When I first wrote about the properties in 2014, both had deteriorating buildings, were home to squatters and had become dumping grounds.

Now one is slated to become a subacute-care facility and the other car dealerships.

The latter is a 9-acre property on north McHenry Avenue, south of Claribel Road. The former farm until recently contained a house, several outbuildings and two rows of apartments encircled by trash. It is surrounded by car dealerships, so it’s not a surprising evolution for the property.

The owner, a former Modesto city attorney, sold it in May for $2.1 million to B.E. Fitzpatrick Development Inc., and all the buildings have since been demolished.

The president of the company, Ed Fitzpatrick, owns Valley BMW and Valley Lexus, as well as a dealership in Oakland.

An application to have the property rezoned from agricultural to planned development states that Fitzpatrick intends to divide it into five parcels.

He wants to move his BMW dealership, on McHenry just south of Bangs Avenue, to what would be the biggest parcel on the property, 3.5 acres just north of his Lexus dealership. North of that, he plans to build a Kia dealership on 2.2 acres.

Behind the two dealerships, three smaller parcels are proposed for “auto-related uses, which are unknown at this time,” according to the plan. They will be accessible from Spyres Way, which will be extended to the north end of the property.

Fitzpatrick did not return multiple calls for comment about the plan or what he intends to do with the existing dealership.

Angela Freitas, county director of planning and community development, said an environmental review of the plan must be completed, after which it will go up for a 30-day public review before going to the Planning Commission for a vote, likely this spring.

The plan for the other property, this one on Casa Blanca Court off East Coolidge Avenue east of McHenry, is in the demolition phase.

A construction company last week started tearing down 11 bungalows on the property that were built in 1947.

My colleague Ken Carlson wrote recently that the owners of Central Valley Specialty Hospital in downtown Modesto would purchase Avalon Care Center, which is directly behind Casa Blanca Court on East Orangeburg Avenue.

Central Valley purchased the 0.86-acre cul-de-sac in September for $450,000 and intends to build north into the court.

The previous owner originally planned to fix up and expand the bungalows but quickly learned he was in over his head. Past tenants said they were originally constructed as transitional housing for veterans returning from World War II. But they had become relics, a shell of their original form, covered in graffiti and frequented by transients.

Central Valley CEO Gia Smith said demolition of the old bungalows should be complete this week, with construction of the expansion beginning in a few weeks.

The expansion will bring the number of beds at the facility from 70 to 132. The name will be changed to Valley Subacute and Rehabilitation Center and will serve patients who are too ill for a nursing home or are dependent on ventilators.

Have a question for the Bee Investigator? Call 209-578-2366 or email etracy@modbee.com.

At a glance

McHenry Avenue construction plan:

Phase One/ Valley BMW dealership

  • 27,000 square feet, 25 feet high
  • On 3.56-acre parcel
  • Construction to begin on or before Oct. 1, 2017

Phase Two / Valley Kia

  • 16,000 square feet, 25 feet high
  • On 2.27-acre parcel
  • Construction to begin on or before Oct. 1, 2018
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