In the past, we’ve reported on the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s condemnation of the historic Hugo Hotel. It now appears that city officials in Ukiah may utilize a similar playbook and reinstate the redevelopment agency’s power of eminent domain in order to acquire the historic 119-year old Palace Hotel. According to a Press Democrat article, "Ukiah seeks new life for Palace Hotel," the city may turn to eminent domain after decades of unsuccessfully nudging the hotel’s Marin County owners to rehabilitate the historic vine-covered building in the heart of downtown.
Nearby residents recall the Palace Hotel serving as a hub of activity in the 1970′s and 1980′s when it housed a restaurant, a bar, and a popular music venue attracting well known acts. But the Hotel has been sitting vacant since 1988. According to the article, in 1994, more than 200 downtown merchants and customers signed a petition demanding that the city have the building either cleaned up or torn down.
The property appraised in 2006 for $309,000, but the owners purportedly want over $1 million. A study commissioned by the city concluded it would cost $4.5 million just to tear the Palace Hotel down. Like any redevelopment, the proposed use of eminent domain is drawing a wide range of opinions.