TURLOCK — Ask any real estate agent: It's a good time to buy.
The Turlock City Council was in a buying mood Tuesday night, picking up property it needs for its new public safety center and near Columbia Park.
Maryn Pitt, the city's housing program services manager, said two purchases authorized Tuesday night are the last ones the city needs for its new police and fire headquarters at North Broadway and West Olive Avenue.
One of the parcels houses a hair salon whose proprietor already has vacated the property. That will cost the city $30,000.
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"We're in possession of the keys," Pitt said.
The other parcel is home to a commercial building that houses two tenants, one of whom is suing the city, Pitt said. That property cost the city $660,000, money that had been set aside for the project, she said.
The other purchase the city made Tuesday is a home near Columbia Park.
"This is a unique opportunity that came to the attention of the city over the last 14 months," Pitt said. "The property is in foreclosure. This is the last parcel of the three units at that corner of the park; we will be able to move forward in demolition."
The homes have caused problems in the past, Pitt said in a report to the council. They block visibility from High Street and have fences that are constantly tagged with graffiti.
Once the homes are demolished, the parcels will provide an additional .17 acres of parkland. It's the third time the park, popular with west-side residents, has grown in recent years. Last year, the city bought property to add .13 acres. There was a similar-sized addition in 2008.
Councilwoman Mary Jackson asked if any of the houses could be given to Habitat for Humanity for rehabilitation elsewhere.
Pitt said the city hasn't worked with the organization in the past and that the houses are in such disrepair they couldn't be saved and moved.
"We're trying," Pitt said. "We haven't been in Habitat for Humanity's 10-year-strategic plan, but that's changing."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.