MODESTO -- The slimmed-down Great Valley Center has sold its fancy Modesto headquarters, moved to a nearby rental office with a colorful history and hopes to announce a new leader this week.
"Everyone feels real good about this," said Kathy Halsey, the 15-year-old think tank's interim leader, during a moving break. "Change is a good thing. Our employees are upbeat and motivated."
In its glory days around 2003, the Great Valley Center renovated a former church at 201 Needham St. for $1.5 million and was host to numerous community meetings in its spacious conference room. Staff members produced groundbreaking studies and became regularly quoted experts in the media throughout the 18-county Central Valley, from Redding to Bakersfield.
But grants ran dry, and the center parted ways with the University of California at Merced. The group revamped its board of directors a few months ago and launched a search for a new president and chief executive officer.
The center had 30 workers at its apex; it now employs eight and has streamlined its focus to Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties.
Selling the building, now 92 years old, fetched "close to the asking price" of nearly $1.5 million, Halsey said. Bradley Post of Borton Petrini said the law firm paid "more than a million, less than a million-five."
"It's in great shape. The center took real good care of it," said Post, whose 110-year-old company established a Modesto presence in 1986 and will move from rented space at 11th and K streets. "At some point you say, 'Why am I paying somebody else?' " he said.
The Great Valley Center found a new home a few blocks away at 1120 13th St., with its own entrance. Halsey didn't know rental terms; 4,260 square feet at that address has been listed for $4,899 per month.
The site was home of Modesto Bowl for more than 40 years until it went bankrupt and was renovated as an office complex in 1997. FBI agents raided a real estate company occupying part of the complex in September 2011, but information was sealed and the government has not released details since.
"The place fit everything we wanted," Halsey said. "It's not as large, but it's pretty good-sized," with a conference room, she said.
Former Modesto Mayor Carol Whiteside founded the center in 1997 with three employees in a rented downtown office. She left in 2008.
On the Net: www.greatvalley.org.
Modesto Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.