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Old 11-03-2005, 05:12 PM
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Lightbulb Downtown buildings Owners demanding top dollar for their property

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gilroy - A number of them are boarded up and several may have to be torn down, but that hasn’t stopped owners of downtown buildings from demanding top dollar for their property.

Some market observers see spiraling prices as a natural outcome of the area’s revitalization; others say building owners need a “reality check.”

A sample of property listings show soaring real estate prices along a two-block stretch of Monterey Street - between Fourth and Sixth streets - that have the highest concentration of businesses.

A boarded-up building at 7525 Monterey St., once the home of Orofino Jewelry, is listed at $498,000 - or $142 per square foot. One year ago, the city paid $300,000, or $42 per square foot, for a property just two blocks south as part of land acquisitions for a future arts center.

Downtown developer Gary Walton said “it’s a crazy market right now,” pointing out that commercial real estate prices have increased in recent years almost as fast as housing prices. Walton purchased a downtown building eight years ago for $30 a square foot, and sold it 18 months ago for $100 per square foot. But he believes some listing prices by downtown building owners are simply wishful thinking.

“Current rents won’t support those prices,” he said. “You can ask whatever you want.”

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