Another Calexico Development Hits the Skids

By Mario Conde

An ambitious medical campus planned to be developed at Towncenter Plaza in Calexico has been put on hold indefinitely.

Last week, Towncenter owner, Kevin Smith, attended the Calexico Economic Development Commission announcing that the Medical Campus that would have consisted of a Dementia Care Center, a Skilled Nursing Facility, and a Veterans Care Facility will no longer establish at Towncenter since, according to Smith, there was a lack of commitment and interest by the City of Calexico.  Towncenter Plaza had been in escrow for 18 months with Medical Management Group, who were planning on building a 15.1 acre medical building.  City Manager Oscar Rodriquez was not present at the meeting. The Chronicle contacted Rodriquez to respond to those comments and said he didn’t agree with the statements made by Smith.

Towncenter Plaza had been working with the City to implement the CFD that was formed as a financing mechanism to repay a portion of the infrastructure cost paid by Towncenter and financed through Liberty Bankers Life Insurance. The CFD was going to provide approximately $1.2 million net to be paid to Liberty to reduce the amount of the loan. The City, through the RDA, was going to provide an additional $2.8 million to MMG in order for them to acquire the balance of the 15.1 acreas. This amount was going to create 600 jobs. The RDA was going to provide the funds as soon as the State had resolved its differences with the RDA structure.

Smith said that in 2007 the Heffernan Memorial District originally considered the Towncenter Plaza development for the location of their medical facility but decided to go to the Mega Park project that was later rescinded due a lawsuit made against the project. Smith asked for the assistance of the Calexico EDC in obtaining approval and support of the Heffernan Hospital District.

“We feel that this is a great fit for the City of Calexico and with the help of the RDA the financial return to the City of Calexico will be significant.” Smith said.

Towncenter will propose that Heffernan proceed with the purchase of the lots 18 and 19 for $1,250,000 and the balance of the funds required to close the purchase would come from the RDA.  The RDA funds will then be released as the jobs are created by Heffernan to close on the purchase of the full 15.1 acres. The jobs created by the new facilities will help to insure the City’s fulfillment of the EDA job creation criteria that is required as part of their $3 million grants that is in process, Smith said. Towncenter Plaza will help facilitate the recruiting of tenants for the medical facility. Possible tenants include a diagnostic/radiology lab, a surgery center, a kidney dialysis center, a chiropractic center, a blood lab, a physical therapy/rehabilitation center, a DME company, and a home health care company.

The Calexico Economic Development Commission agreed to support Kevin Smith and Towncenter Plaza and will address the issues raised in order to move the Towncenter project forward.