Chinatown development stalls



San Luis Obispo City Council members gave the Chinatown project developers a big break.

At its June 7 meeting, the council unanimously voted to give Jim and Tom Copeland, the developers, a six-month suspension of the payment terms of the contract.

The Copelands were due to make a payment of $173,500 on July 2 to comply with an agreement that cleared the way to buy and build a boutique hotel and retail space on a city-owned parking lot in the Chinatown area of downtown SLO. The Copelands have made previous payments on schedule.

According to city documents, the Copelands told the city they couldn’t meet the financial conditions of the agreement because “of the ongoing effects of the recession on hotel development.”

The agreement to sell a city parking lot with 132 spaces came under heavy criticism; critics have dubbed it a sweetheart deal for the Copelands.

On July 1, 2008, the SLO City Council, by a 3-2 vote, approved a plan to sell a city parking lot to the Copelands for $1.1 million, plus another $2.6 million to replace the lost parking spaces. A city-commissioned appraisal by an independent company, however, determined the “fair market value” of the property was actually $8.8 million.

The Copelands did not return phone calls from New Times by press time.

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