Sunday, 14 April 2024

Riveras: Plans for Vista Point still forming

LAKEPORT – The man who won the bid to purchase the Vista Point Shopping Center says there is a lot of work to be done before he can share his plans for the property.


Following a closed session discussion Tuesday night after the regular council meeting, Mayor Roy Parmentier and Councilmen Bob Rumfelt and Ron Bertsch voted to sell the nine-acre Vista Point property on Lakeport Boulevard to Matt Riveras for $1,001,000 in cash.


The sale does not include the shopping center’s buildings, which belong to lease holder Meridian Investments of Oakland.


Jeff Walters of Meridian Investments approached the council earlier this month and again on Tuesday to ask for the chance to submit a proposal, although the deadline had passed and the city already had begun negotiations with Riveras in early August.


Councilmen Buzz Bruns and Jim Irwin recused themselves from the discussion. In Bruns' case, his recusal was due to Riveras being his son-in-law; Irwin had a contractual obligation with Riveras over a fence shared by two homes he and Riveras built in Lakeport.


The terms of the sale changed slightly Wednesday, according to Lakeport City Manager Jerry Gillham.


According to Parmentier’s statement Tuesday night, Riveras had seven days – beginning Wednesday – to accept the purchase agreement and deposit $90,000 into an escrow account. The city then wanted escrow to close in another two weeks, for a 21-day turnaround.


Gillham said he met with the title company Wednesday and its representatives stated that they needed 30 days for the escrow.


Riveras told Lake County News that it’s premature for him to disclose his plans for the shopping center property. Nor would he say if he had accepted the city’s terms or not.


Of his plans, he said, “Within 12 months it will definitely become clear.”


Riveras explained, “All I’m able to control right now is the dirt.”


He said Meridian’s last-minute appeal to the council was “too little, too late.”


“Meridian has had ample time to come forward‚” said Riveras.


Riveras said his interest in the shopping center isn’t new. For the past two years he has watched and waited for his opportunity to make an offer. The city couldn’t entertain offers on the land until earlier this year because it didn’t yet have a parcel map, he said.


He said he also went to Meridian two years ago and offered them $3.2 million for their lease, an offer not contingent on him owning the land. The late Bill Walters, Jeff Walters’ father, turned down the offer in writing, said Riveras, citing a deal with Barry Johnson, owner of Willopoint Resort.


Johnson was the only other individual to submit an offer for Vista Point to the city, as Lake County News previously reported. When he made a presentation to the council in August, he took with him a letter of support from Meridian.


After the City Council accepted his bid and opened negotiations, Riveras said he and Walters met to discuss the property. But it was a meeting that Riveras said he cut short after Walters began firing off questions in order to get details about the project.


“I could see where the meeting was going and what his agenda was‚” said Riveras.


Weeks later Walters approached the council to ask for the chance to make a bid.


Next steps in the process


Vista Point has not been utilized to its fullest potential, said Riveras, and in the center he saw an opportunity.


“That’s what I do. I buy properties and make them look better,” he said.


After improving them, he keeps some properties and sells others, he said.


Some of his other projects include an office building and a small retail center, both in Sonoma County.


But he said those projects are irrelevant to the project he wants to take on with Vista Point.


“This would be the largest scale project that I'd be involved in‚” he said.


Riveras said he’s forming a consortium of people who have completed much larger projects than Vista Point to come up with a project that’s a good fit. Several of those individuals already have visited the property, he said.


“The first step is to have control over the property‚” said Riveras.


That means finalizing the process with the city, he said.


Once that is complete, Riveras said it will be time to negotiate with Meridian about purchasing their lease holding or negotiating for a longer lease. Meridian's current agreement has 21 years remaining on it.


Riveras said the lease he is purchasing from the city clearly states – “in black and white” – that Meridian has to perform to a certain standard and remain in compliance with the lease terms or they must sell.


“Right now, they’re not in compliance,” said Riveras, pointing to the rundown condition of the center.


Riveras said he’s willing to buy the lease or simply let Meridian out of it.


Meridian currently makes $25,000 in rents each month, Riveras reported. Meridian has made annual lease payments to the city which grow by 5 percent each year. In the 2006-07 fiscal year, the payment was $42,337.37.


The shopping center has a lot of potential, Riveras said, but it also needs a lot of help. “There's a lot of money that needs to be spent there,” he said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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