In downtown Salinas, California, the Bruhn Building has been a danger to the community for over a decade, most pressingly after a devastating fire in 2016 nearly destroyed the iconic commercial space, leaving it a hazardous shell of a building with little to no internal structural supports.
The City of Salinas received numerous complaints from the public who were concerned for their safety and the impact of the dilapidated structure on nearby properties. After numerous unsuccessful meetings with and notices sent to those responsible for the Bruhn Building seeking timely remediation of the structure, the once heart of downtown Salinas’s commerce, the City brought in Silver & Wright LLP to seek legal action against Berkley Inc., the owner, and Gerry Kehoe and other principals of Berkley, Inc.
Silver & Wright LLP helped the City initiate a receivership action as a last resort in early 2020. The Monterrey Superior Court agreed that the property was substantially dangerous and a threat to the community after the City provided its evidence of the historical and current conditions; most compelling to the Court, the owners had not taken action to remediate the Bruhn Building after the City issued its final notice to repair or abate in 2019. The Court found it necessary to appoint a California Health and Safety Code Receiver over the property to secure it and protect the community. The Court also gave the defendants one last opportunity to close the property’s pending sale to a viable buyer willing to take on the development of the property; otherwise, the appointed receiver would move forward with conducting the remediation work himself.
In a delicate balance of interests, the receivership action, led by Silver & Wright LLP’s Partner Valerie Escalante Troesh, resulted in the owner selling the Bruhn Building to a very reputable third-party who will be restoring and developing this iconic building in the heart of downtown Salinas along with its other nearby Greyhound Bus building. The City recovered its statutorily recoverable enforcement fees and costs from the sale so the community was reimbursed for the City’s efforts to ensure the Bruhn Building would be safe once again.
In October of 2020, the buildings were sold to Bruce Taylor’s Taylor Fresh Foods for $2.15 million and $1.35 million. The Bruhn property is zoned for mixed-use, and Bruce Taylor plans to redevelop the building as such.
Working closely with the City of Salinas’s City Attorney and enforcement team, we were able to achieve an extremely equitable result for the community and property owner; justice was truly achieved for the people of Salinas who now can rest assured the Bruhn Building will be safe and put to beneficial use while the owner can walk away from its lucrative sale knowing it did the right thing to ensure remediation
Partner Valerie Escalante Troesh, Silver & Wright LLP