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City asks public’s help in determining future of armory building
After 57 years, the California National Guard has vacated the former armory building on Flower Street and now the City of Turlock must decide what happens next to the property (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

The City of Turlock is seeking the public’s input on what direction to take with the recently-vacated armory building near Soderquist Field.

The California Military Department entered into an agreement with the City of Turlock in 1963 to lease property at 1040 Flower St. for the purpose of building and maintaining an armory for the national guard. Fifty-three years into a 99-year lease agreement, the military notified the City in 2016 that they would be vacating the property.

Four years after the notification, the national guard finally left the property last spring and now the City of Turlock has to decide what to do with the decades-old building and the surrounding property. The City Council decided at their Aug. 11 meeting to seek the public’s input on what happens next to the Flower Street location through a call for letters of interest.

Developers, nonprofits, business owners and residents are encouraged to submit their vision for the property to the City in writing by Sept. 4. City staff will then take the information from the letters and present it to the City Council.

“What we really hope through this process is to be able to provide Council with additional information so they can make the most informed decision possible,” said Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder at the Aug. 11 Council meeting.

“A key component, obviously, with all our community projects is the community engagement piece. Not only will we look at the letter of interest of being one of those tools, there will absolutely be an opportunity for the community to weigh in,” Van Guilder continued.

The armory is a 11,918 square foot concrete block building constructed in 1963 on 1.48 acres. Eighteen months ago it was appraised at $535,000 with remaining life of five to 10 years. Van Guilder described the current state of the property as requiring “significant upgrades to all major systems of the building.”

“I don’t want the community to think we’re talking about a pristine building…It has its challenges. In some regard it looks like it hasn’t changed much since it was built in 1963,” said Van Guilder.

While City Manager Toby Wells said that getting input from developers would help find out what is actually feasible in today’s climate with that property, that is not the only group the City is hoping to hear from.

“Not through just building and development, also our community nonprofits — if they have a need for such a building — it’s for those opportunities too…We don’t want to limit ourselves to just developers, we want to expand that to our nonprofits and even the County to come in and provide services,” said Councilmember Becky Arellano.

Councilmember Gil Esquer, whose district the property is located in, asked for more information on possible federal Community Development Block Grants that could help the City fund improvements.

“I have not totally lost the notion that this property can be saved as a City property as a community center for the westside. I think it would be a great asset down there,” said Esquer.

The land is zoned Public and Semi-Public and is located within an established neighborhood. The property is within walking distance to Osborn Elementary School and is next to Soderquist Park, a Little League baseball facility. The site is designated Public in the General Plan however, given the location of the facility, a rezone and General Plan Amendment to residential or similar compatible land use is a potential option, according to City staff.

Letters of Interest regarding the armory property should be 500 words or fewer and include individual or organization background and contact information. Deadline for letters is 5 p.m. Sept. 4. They can be emailed to or mailed to: Allison Van Guilder, Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities, City of Turlock, 156 S. Broadway, Turlock, CA 95380-5454.