Councilmembers Dwight Worden and Sherryl Parks
After two years of off-and-on discussions between Winston School and the City, the City announced on June 2, 2020 that discussions are concluded and the Winston lease will remain unchanged. The City released a one page summary and a more detailed review about this topic. You can find both statements here: https://bit.ly/WinstonTalks
In 2006 the City secured the right to purchase what is now the Shores Park property from the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) for the greatly reduced price of $8.5 million (down from the $22 million sought by DMUSD). Fundraising was undertaken by a citizen group called “Friends of Del Mar Parks” and by Winston, a tenant of DMUSD at the time with a lease that expired in 2008. That effort raised $5.3 million, (including $2.954 from Winston) but fell short of the $8.5 million needed and the city sold its Balboa Reservoir property to pay the balance and close the deal, eager to start the park planning process.
Winston got the long-term 55-year lease it requested. Rent started to accrue in 2008 at $197,245 per year, the same amount it had been paying DMUSD but Winston got rent credit for its $2.954 million contributions to the purchase such that Winston will not pay any new money rent to the City until 2023. Among other topics the lease committed Winston to rebuild its school and return the site to the City at the end of the 55 years in a clean, graded condition. Milestones are set in the lease to measure Winston’s progress.
All was then quiet until June of 2018 when Winston asked in writing for a rent reduction from $197,245 per year to $1 per year, a doubling of the lease term from 55 to 99 years, two additional 25-year options in its favor and extension of its milestone obligations, the first of which (submission of complete redevelopment plans to the City by December 2019) was approaching. For the next two years the City and Winston discussed the requested lease revisions including exchanging a number of ideas and proposals.
In fall 2019 Winston agreed to acquire an independent appraisal and share it with the City. Winston was sure the appraisal would prove its demands for substantial rent reduction were reasonable. Although Winston acquired the appraisal it declined to share it with the City, presumably because it did not support Winston’s contention the rent was too high. That concluded the lease discussions leaving the lease unchanged. It is noted that Winston has contested some aspects of the statements released by the City.
Winston remains a valued part of the community with a right to stay on site until 2063. We hope they do. They have started the planning process to redevelop their school site and the City looks forward to receiving their redevelopment plans due under an extended milestone date by October 2, 2020.