Redwood City jail-land price tag will rise if officials dawdle

The cost of the Redwood City land that San Mateo County is looking to buy for a new jail might increase by hundreds of thousands of dollars unless the Board Supervisors acts soon to close the deal.

At a special meeting Tuesday, supervisors will consider accepting a purchase option agreement for four properties on the first block of Chemical Way totaling 4.1 acres, a deal negotiated in recent months by city officials.

Redwood City officials hammered out the deal to give Sheriff Greg Munks an alternative site for constructing a 768-bed correctional center. They feared that his preferred site on the county’s main campus would cripple efforts to revitalize the nearby downtown. Munks said the new jail, which will focus on inmate rehabilitation, is needed to reduce chronic overcrowding in the county’s existing facilities.

The land deal would total $17.4 million, including an estimated $2.25 million for relocation costs for existing tenants, though it could go as high as $17.9 million if supervisors delay closing the deal, according to a report by county Real Property Manager Steve Alms.

If supervisors assume the city’s purchase option, they face a Dec. 27 deadline to declare their intent to close the property, or must pay up to $475,000 on top of the land costs to extend the purchase window.

It would cost the county $215,500 more to extend the option period to Jan. 31, and $138,500 of that charge could not be applied to the purchase price. Then, the county would have to pay $84,500 monthly through May to extend it further, or another $338,000 that could not be applied to the purchase.

The deal would be paid for out of reserve funds and potentially backfilled with bond funding, Alms said.

Even if supervisors approve the land purchase, they still have not said how they will pay for the estimated $150 million needed to build the jail or the $32 million-a-year cost of running it at full capacity.

sbishop@sfexaminer.com

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