Subdivision image via Google Earth

published on April 3, 2019 - 12:33 PM
Written by David Castellon

If you’re in the market to buy a subdivision, then you may be able to get one relatively cheap in Lindsay.

Well, not the whole subdivision with houses, sidewalks and streets already built.

But when Tulare County puts Lindsay Mission Estates up for sale in June in an online tax-recovery auction, the nearly 36-acre former citrus grove will come with some of the pre-construction work done, as all the trees have been removed, the ground leveled and some underground utilities already laid, said Lindsay City Manager Bill Zigler.

An added perk for whoever buys the land is “This project already has all of its entitlements on it that say you can build this many houses, it shows where the streets are supposed to be — even what the streets are supposed to be named — the orientation or the houses.”

The city long ago approved the subdivision map, dividing the land in north central Lindsay into 91 parcels.

“They have fast tracked through many of the hurdles that can be expensive and tedious to go through,” Zigler said.

“They can start bringing surveyors out, they can create lots, they can start developing” relatively quickly, he said of whoever buys the land.

As for how much all this will cost, Paul Sampietro, chief deputy treasure and tax collector for Tulare County, said the minimum starting bid will be $1.3 million, to recover the more than $1.08 million in property taxes the Utah-based group that owns the land has failed to pay since December 2008, along with reimbursing the county for its recovery costs..

The subdivision actually had been in the works at least since 2004, when a local landowner and the investment group proposed building the development, comprised of mid- to higher-grade homes.

At the time, Lindsay was in need of housing, in particular for the more than 400 employees of Lindsay Unified School District, most of whom lived outside the city due to low housing availability, Zigler said.

In fact, he said that after about 14 years of no new subdivision development in Lindsay, a boom occurred from 2004 to 2007 in which 13 housing developments and four apartment complexes were launched, Lindsay Mission Estates among them.

But only a handful of them were built, said Zigler, noting that the Great Recession played a role in that. In the case of the Lindsay Mission project, its developers had the added problem of several delays.

Zigler said there was money available to the Utah group to offset some of their “flat costs” for installing infrastructure for the site, “but they took so long that we had a revolving loan program, but it went to a different project, and I think the people in Utah lost interest in it, and it sat here.”

Efforts to contact a representative of the investment group, Lindsay Mission Estates, LLC, were unsuccessful.

As for the property, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted recently to include it in the online auction June 4-5, along with other properties for which back taxes are owed.

Bidders for the Lindsay site will have to put down $130,000 deposits that will be refunded to those who don’t submit the winning bid, but it will not be refunded to the winning bidder if the purchase isn’t completed.

The auction for the Lindsay site may not happen at all if the property owners can line up beforehand a buyer who will pay off the back taxes.

Zigler said Lindsay still needs more new housing, and he would like to see Lindsay Mission Estates revived.

When asked about what he thought the chances of the county getting at least the $1.3 million minimum bid, he said, “That many acres with all these entitlements and this asking price, I think it will go. I think it will build and will be good for the community and, hopefully, good for the developer, too.”

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