MORAGA – Hacienda de las Flores, a Spanish-style mansion nestled in this sleepy East Bay town, has long been a popular venue for weddings and other community events.
The city council wants it to be so.
The council granted a 10-year lease for the spacious city-owned property at 2100 Donald Drive in Wedgewood Weddings, a company that offers packages at 46 locations nationwide – not including the Hacienda – with 30 locations in California, including the San Francisco Presidio. and the Sequoia mansion in Placerville.
Moraga calculates that he will benefit from $ 160,000 per year by leasing the Hacienda from the vendor, including hiring and freeing city staff to work on other issues beyond event planning.
Over the years various businesses have used the place, including a “pop-up” cafe. Taco trucks have also shown up, feeding those who roam his lands.
However, not everyone thinks a lease is a good idea.
Some neighbors objected to the lease, saying events at the Hacienda can already be noisy and regular weddings there will continue the problem.
“We sometimes hear music at events held at the Hacienda – unfortunately the noise is often carried down the valley / hill by the evening breeze. While it can be annoying when we are enjoying our backyard (during) an evening, the events are rare enough not to be a major concern, ”resident Steve Dowse told council via email. “However, if the proposed rental is approved for the Hacienda, the tenant will seek to maximize its use and there would be an unlimited number of events, possibly every weekend as a minimum.”
Wedgewood will pay $ 20,000 per month in rent, depending on the terms of the lease. The board voted unanimously on June 23 to approve the lease, which gives the company two extension options of five years each.
The city will receive 5% of sales of more than $ 1.5 million per year, and Wedgewood will invest an initial amount of $ 253,000 in capital improvements. Beginning in the third year of the lease, Wedgewood will incur an additional $ 4,000 each month for capital improvements. The lease will begin on November 1st.
“I was worried to learn from a neighbor of mine that the changes might affect noise levels on my street,” resident Darby Wong said in another email. “I bought my house in Moraga on this street because of the peace and quiet here. I hope this doesn’t become an issue that I will have to spend a lot of time fighting / defending against.
But city councilor David Stromberg told the council meeting that leasing the site at Wedgewood makes “absolutely logical” because it will be a single company on the site that will have to meet the terms of the lease.
Moraga officials noted that residents will still have access to the Hacienda, a popular spot where neighbors can also walk their dogs or hang out.
Despite its majestic architecture – some neighbors call it the “Little Hearst Castle” – at 105 years old, the building requires regular maintenance and at times the town has struggled with upkeep, as well as finding the best ways to use it.
In 2015, it was proposed to convert part of the ground floor of the main building of the Hacienda into a restaurant, and to transform the site into a conference center was launched. The proposals fell through.
The Town of Moraga has owned the Hacienda since 1973. The Parks and Recreation Commission manages the land.
The building is used for city meetings, summer camps, public celebrations and private events, including weddings. The Parks Department will continue to operate from the Hacienda under the lease.
Bill Zaruka, president and CEO of Wedgewood Weddings, said his company provides planning “under one roof,” meaning couples don’t need to find a caterer, for example, while trying to find another company that will provide tables. and chairs.
Hacienda de las Flores was built in 1916, originally a three-bedroom residence housing an orphanage before it was converted into a ranch.
The site has a kitchen and a bar. Planned upgrades include work on the property’s kitchen, floors and exterior lighting.