In last week’s super-long council report, I noted that David Beretta and Jack Rogers were listening to the discussion on the future of Centerville’s commercial center and that council members were asking about the future of the former Centerville Fire Station (photographed right) on Fremont Boulevard between the Bob’s Hoagy Steaks and Yuk Wah Chinese restaurant.
What I didn’t fully grasp is that Beretta was there because he wants to buy the fire station. Beretta — and possibly his family members, including Rogers — own the the entire eastern side of Fremont Boulevard from Peralta Avenue to Parish Avenue except for the fire station.
If Beretta acquired the station, he would own a contiguous swath of land nearly the size as the big vacant lot directly north that the city has been sitting on for several years.
What would Beretta do if he owned the entire block. Sell it to a developer? I don’t know. He didn’t call me back last week. Councilmember Anu Natarajan asked him the same question when they met before last week’s council meeting. She said he didn’t give her an answer either.
Beretta, who owns a share of the Besaro Mobile Home Park, hasn’t been an ambitious builder in Fremont. He’s pushing to get more money out of the mobile home park; and a few years back, he and his lawyer successfully lobbied the council to allow a mini storage facility on property he owned just two blocks from the Future Warm Springs Bart Station — Fremont’s new green technology hub.
Bill Harrison and Steve Cho were the votes that allowed that to happen, although Harrison argues that once the BART station is built, the land will be worth too much to keep the storage facility.
If Beretta does come up with a great idea for Centerville or finds a developer with a grand plan, Natarajan said she would support negotiating with him for the fire station, even though he’s suing Fremont for the second time in five years over Besaro.
The fire station has been empty for more than a year now. Originally, there was talk that the firefighters union would rent it out, but that didn’t materialize. There’s also been talk of the city using it either as an entertainment venue or for social service programs.
Most of the properties on that side of Fremont Boulevard are listed as being owned by Franmar, a partnership for which Beretta is the agent.