HEMET: Potato shed vacated; deconstruction looming
City officials are hoping it becomes the site of a new county courthouse; say it needs to go regardless
KEVIN PEARSON/STAFF PHOTO
The inside of the potato shed building now sits empty, after being used by Agri-Empire until mid-June.
WEBLINK PE Video: The Potato Shed in Hemet
The famed potato shed building near downtown Hemet has been vacated by Agri-Empire and the city is expected to begin tearing it down in the coming months.
The building sits on the site where Hemet officials hope to build a new courthouse. The first step in clearing the site was having Agri-Empire complete its lease and move out of the facility, which happened earlier this month.
City Manager Brian Nakamura said the city would soon begin a cultural resource study to ensure that the facility is not a national or state landmark that should be protected. Additionally, the city will soon erect a fence around the property to keep out trespassers.
Once those steps are completed, the city will seek a contractor to tear it down. Nakamura was hopeful that the process of piecing it apart could begin quickly. He estimated that cost could approach $100,000.
Instead of a typical demolition, the city will have the contractor deconstruct the venue, with the hopes that some of the building materials can be reused.
Hemet and Menifee are the finalists for the proposed courthouse, which would replace the outdated Hemet Courthouse. The site could be announced later this year.
Nakamura said that the city was taking a risk in paying for the site to be cleared with no promise of being selected for the new courthouse. But given the building’s age, it was a better investment to tear it down than risk public safety, he said.
“The property is worth more once the site is cleared than it is with the building on it,” Nakamura said. “I’d rather spend the money and protect the safety of the community than have something happen where someone gets beyond a fence and gets hurt.
“Because it is owned by the public, we have an obligation to ensure safe facilities. The deconstruction is inevitable. It has to be taken down.”
Follow Kevin Pearson on Twitter @pe_kevinpearson or online at blog.pe.com/Hemet