Clydesdale farm deal in limbo

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Blue Wing Adobe Trust, the local nonprofit making a push to purchase and preserve the 2.7-acre Clydesdale farm property on East Spain Street, says it has been in negotiations in the weeks that have passed since its Feb. 28 fundraising deadline expired to secure the bucolic Plaza-area parcel.

In a statement, officials from the historic-preservation nonprofit said: “The Blue Wing Adobe Trust remains in active discussions with (owners of the property) the Castagnasso family. We are continuing to explore all options to preserve this historic Clydesdale Farm and are encouraged by our recent discussions.”

When the nonprofit first announced its campaign to purchase the property, known as Mission Bell Farms, last June, the group had been working toward a Jan. 15 deadline to raise the $7 million needed to purchase the iconic downtown pasture owned by the Castagnasso family, which subsequently extended the deadline to the end of February.

Last week, Blue Wing spokesperson Patricia Cullinan provided a brief update to the Index-Tribune on where the purchase stands, stating that board members were still in discussions with the Castagnasso family” and “exploring all options to successfully acquire and preserve this property for future generations.”

The property at 196 E. Spain St. – known as Mission Bell Farms – was put on the market by owner Deana Castagnasso last March.

At the latest accounting, the Blue Wing Adobe Trust had raised just north of $3.5 million, according to Cullinan, thanks to community donations, $500,000 from the City of Sonoma and a $500,000 “challenge” gift in February of a one-to-one match from an anonymous donor.

If the purchase doesn’t come to fruition, the Trust “will return the donated funds to our generous donors and cancel all the pledges that we have received,” according to Blue Wing Adobe Trust board member Will Honeybourne.

The Mission Bell Farms property consists of an 1890s-era single-family residence, two barns and several other structures located in and around the downtown complex of historic sites – including the Mission San Francisco de Sonoma, the Sonoma Barracks, the Blue Wing Inn and the Sonoma Plaza, among others. The residence and barns are identified in the National Register of Historic Places as “contributing buildings” to the Sonoma Plaza National Landmark District.

The property is zoned for “medium density residential,” however, which, if sold for development, would allow for up to 11 units per acre.

There are currently more than 10,447 signatures on the Trust’s online petition urging the preservation of “this land [that] reflects the agricultural soul of our community and holds a special place in the hearts of all Sonomans and visitors.”

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