TWENTYNINE PALMS — The city will demolish two downtown buildings to make way for new development for Project Phoenix.

The City Council approved two demolition contracts Tuesday, Oct. 23.

5M Contracting Inc. will be paid $29,885 to destroy and remove the former Hi-Desert Tire building at 73551 Twentynine Palms Highway.

The council votes 4-0-1 for this contract without much discussion. Councilman Dan Mintz withdrew from the discussions and vote because his wife has a shop in the project area.

The second contract, offering $24,600 to Clemons Demolition to get rid of the former Hart’s Furniture storage building at 73617 Smoketree Ave., sparked a more lively debate. This location would be a parking lot for the public, Luckino said.

Councilman John Cole asked if the city could renovate the old storage building instead of demolishing it. Cole suggested “holding off on it” and investigating further. He said the city always needs storage and building a new storage building could cost more than fixing an existing structure.

“It might take $50,000 to renovate it,” Cole said. “My suggestion is we delay this project right now.”

“My concern is that it is an old building,” said Councilman Joel Klink, who favored demolition. “I can’t envision it being there for what we want.”

A motion and a second to demolish the building had already been on the table and Cole’s motion to delay did not receive a second so it died.

“It might be considered putting lipstick on a pig,” Cole said prior to the vote.

The Council approved the contract 3-1-0 with Cole the lone “no” vote.

The plans for Project Phoenix come after about six years of planning and litigation to free bond funds from the state of California.

Project Phoenix calls for construction of a 30,000-square-foot community center and affordable senior housing along with infrastructure and lots of public parking on Twentynine Palms Highway.

The project site is on about 15 acres from the highway south to Cactus Drive and from Cholla Avenue west to Tamarisk Avenue.

The city is also working with the San Bernardino County Housing Authority to acquire and rehabilitate units to provide low-income housing in the Split Rock housing development.

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