Bank to clean up old speedway

A bank has agreed to clean up the abandoned Champion Speedway after developers of a large subdivision on the property said they couldn't afford the work.

Bank of the West will spend about $80,000 to clean up the speedway that city staff say is a hazard because of its trash, graffiti, old stands and dilapidated buildings.

The city had tried to get developers to clean up the property for several months.

The bank loaned developer Reynan & Bardis about $3 million to work on the planned 521-home Schulz Ranch subdivision. The Sacramento-based developer has defaulted on the loan.

"While Bank of the West has made no decision on whether or when to foreclose on the land, you made clear that the abandoned raceway located on the land is a nuisance and that the city requires that the nuisance be abated without further delay," said Alicia Anderson, a bank vice president, in a letter to the city this week.

The city approved the Schulz Ranch project in 2005, the same year the speedway in the southeast side of the city off Synder Avenue closed after opening 42 years earlier. It is now the largest approved but undeveloped subdivision in the city.

Reynan & Bardis owns about 35 acres of the 125-acre property. National developer Lennar Communities had owned the other 90 acres as manager of Schulz Ranch Developers, but Missouri-based First Bank foreclosed on the property after the developer failed to pay a $26 million loan in time.

Dustin Barker of Lennar told city supervisors at their meeting Thursday that his company has nothing to do with the subdivision anymore "from a legal standpoint," but that it is working with First Bank to get involved with the project again.

Representatives from both Lennar and Reynan & Bardis said they were at the meeting to support a one-year extension to turn in final plans for the Schulz Ranch subdivision, so they or whoever buys the land can work from those plans and won't have to re-start the long and expensive process to meet city requirements.

Supervisors did approve the extension, but most said they were only supporting the extension because Bank of the West agreed to clean up the speedway. The city was planning to do the work and bill the owners if no one offered to pay.

"As far as I'm concerned," Mayor Marv Teixeira said looking at Lennar and Reynan & Bardis representatives with a grimace, "you people did a lousy job."

He did praise California-based Bank of the West, however, saying, "my faith has been reinstated in corporate America."

- Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.


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