A vacant piece of land next to the historic McGowan House at the southern end of downtown Sonora recently sold to a company associated with the Bank of Stockton.

Public records from the Tuolumne County Assessor’s Office stated the property was purchased by the Miner Joaquin Building Corp. on Aug. 6 for $489,000 from Heide Cortopassi, a former Sonora resident who now lives in Stockton.

John Dentoni, CFO of the Bank of Stockton and Miner Joaquin Building Corporation, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The city’s planning department has yet to receive any applications for developing the parcels, said Rachelle Kellogg, Sonora community development director.

“There are nice homes in that surrounding area, and I’m excited to see how all of this kind of develops, because I think it’s going to be a really good thing for the town,” said Cortopassi when contacted by telephone Tuesday.

Cortopassi purchased the McGowan House property at 531 S. Washington St and three adjacent parcels in 2016 for $440,000, according to public records at the Assessor’s Office.

The properties were sold to Cortopassi by members of the Heron family, whose grandparents lived in one of the three 19th-century homes next to the McGowan House.

She said at the time that her ultimate goal from the sale was to restore the McGowan House and clean up the surrounding properties that had become an eyesore for the southern entrance to the city.

Later that year, Cortopassi obtained a permit from the Sonora Planning Commission to demolish the three vacant homes that had fallen into disrepair and become magnets for drug users and crime.

The homes were burned down in December 2016 as a part of a training exercise for the Sonora Fire Department.

All three parcels, at 549 S. Washington St., 559 S. Washington St. and 558 S. Stewart St., are zoned for commercial and historical mixed uses.

Cortopassi has since completed a restoration of the exterior of the McGowan House, which she is selling separately.

The McGowan House, which is zoned as commercial property but can be used for residential purposes with a permit, is listed for $495,000 on the real estate website Zillow.

“I am hopeful that when word gets out with what’s going on with that land next door, somebody will pick up that McGowan House and do something good with it,” Cortopassi said. “I think that house would make a darling bakery-cafe, but I also understand that people don’t want to make that investment until they see what’s going on with the land next door.”

Cortopassi declined to state the name of the purchaser and only would refer to them as a “financial institution.”

Public records show the buyer listed as Miner Joaquin Building Corporation, a Stockton-based company with the same chief executive officer and chief financial officer as the Bank of Stockton.

The Bank of Stockton currently has a branch in Sonora located a couple of blocks to the north of the land next to the McGowan House.

A report in The Modesto Bee from 2014 stated the company spent nearly $1 million that year on land for a new Bank of Stockton branch in Oakdale.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.





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