California Travel Articles
San Francisco Bay Waterfront Estate for Sale - San Quentin
Price Tag: $2 billion
Location: San Quentin
It's funny how a good recession will inspire creative investment solutions in real estate. There are many that feel this prime piece of waterfront property is too good for a prison and should be sold off for future development. Senator Jeff Denham, a Republican legislator, has introduced a bill requesting the sale of this historic building by the end of 2012. " They could build a new facility somewhere else in the state and it could be done at a fraction of the cost," he claims.
This is not a new idea. In 1971, Governor Ronald Reagan promised to initiate steps toward re-development of the prison property. In 1981, the criminal-justice committee suggested selling the prison and applying the proceeds to crime prevention. In 2004, a report suggested that the sale of San Quentin would actually resolve regional issues with housing and transportation.
Developers are waiting in the wings with grandiose plans to build a ferry terminal connecting Marin to San Francisco, and a waterfront village with luxury condos and single-family homes. The estimated $2 billion price tag attached to these plans would provide a boost not only to Marin County, but to the economy of Northern California as well.
Currently, the prison (built in 1852), houses over 5,300 prisoners on a 432-acre peninsula above the town of Larkspur. San Quentin includes 200 buildings, 90 homes for employees, and an expansive exercise yard that overlooks the scenic hills surrounding the bay. A view to die for - and many do; 650 of the inmates are on death row.
The state's capital punishment system as a whole is under question. In the meantime, inmates bide their time with a sluggish judicial system that allows for appeal after appeal, and the already overcrowded death row facility gets smaller and smaller. It is one of the costliest and run down prisons in the state with an operating cost of about $260 million. Expensive renovations included seismic upgrades, lead-paint clean-up, and plumbing updates.
Senator Denham's challenge lies in a 2003 ruling that approved almost $320 million to construct a new death row at San Quentin. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently threw in another $136 million to cover further costs.The Senator's bill seeks to block the construction plans and maintains the proceeds of the sale could be used to build a new death row facility at another prison.
Unfortunately, although the Senator has a following, there are many who disagree with his ideas. State prison officials denounce the bill, claiming that closing a prison, now when the need for more prison cells is increasing, makes no sense. Others question whether the prison is worth the $2 billion price tag, especially in today's market. Unless there is an unexpected turnaround, it is likely that the bill will be temporarily shelved and designated as a two-year bill, to be revisited later next year.
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