Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Outside developers misunderstand Glenn County

Outside developers misunderstand Glenn County
By Sam Bhagwat
of the Valley Mirror
Many times, outside developers don’t have a good idea of Glenn County’s size.

Former Willows city manager Russ Melquist remembers one developer that wanted to build a mini-mart at the corner of Tehama and Wood streets – until they did traffic studies.

“He said, ‘the traffic count is so low!’, Mr. Melquist recalls.”

Contractors building homes face a similar problem, Mr. Melquist says. They’re able to construct the homes for cheap – but aren’t able to sell them for a lot.

“A lot of developers come up here and see the price of land and the price of homes. The land is so cheap, but they start looking more into it. There’s not the need, there’s not the numbers.”

“People come from out of the area, and there isn’t the demand you think there is.”

That can have unanticipated effects.

“A developer out of Marysville put in homes, got them half-built, and it wasn’t penciling out.”

“So he sold them to CHIP” – a low-income, subsidized housing program.

Neighbors were furious, but there was nothing they could do.

One recent developer planning a complex south of town was particularly misinformed.

“I asked what he was going to put down here. He said, ‘a grocery store, a video store.’ There’s no need for that.”

The most well-informed people, Mr. Melquist says, are the scouts for fast-food chains.

He remembers when a Burger King representative came in looking to build an outlet.

“He had all the volume for KFC, the numbers. I asked, ‘how do you know that?’ He said, all the salespeople, they have to go out and find 10 sites a year.”

“They all work together.”

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