Housing / Land Use

Owner of 435 San Benito St. to rebuild after July 12 fire

Matthew Sanchez is a third-generation Hollister resident who enlisted a local architect and planning commissioner to design a new building.
Photo courtesy of Jake Medina.
Photo courtesy of Jake Medina.
Structure fire in downtown Hollister on July 12. Photo by Noe Magaña.
Structure fire in downtown Hollister on July 12. Photo by Noe Magaña.

When the July 12 fire at 435 San Benito Street razed the single-story building that’s stood through decades of rollercoaster business cycles in downtown Hollister, it not only gutted four thriving businesses there, but as the walls came tumbling down so too did the Sanchez family’s dream of entrepreneurship and serving the downtown small business community.

Matthew Sanchez, 27, is not only a third-generation Hollister resident who graduated from San Benito High School in 2011, he will be a third-generation owner of the building. His grandfather Frank, born in Tres Pinos in 1913, owned the location from 1980 to 2003. He passed away in 2005. Sanchez’s father, Joe, bought it from his grandfather in 2003. Sanchez hopes to join his father in owning a new building at the same location.

Prior to the fire, businesses housed inside the building included DLG Printing, New Image Salon, Su Casita Multiservicios and Mary’s Flowers. DLG Printing and Su Casita have both opened at new locations. Mary’s Flowers is operating on Facebook and taking orders. New Image Salon could not be reached for comment.

Sanchez told BenitoLink he hopes to begin rebuilding before next summer. He currently works as an aerospace engineer for Boeing in Huntington Beach and used his engineering knowledge to draft the initial “high-level plans” for the new building. He then hired local architect and Hollister Planning Commissioner David Huboi to complete the design, which he recently submitted to the city planning department.

“The designs are in the early stage,” Sanchez said. “It hasn’t been approved by the city yet. There is a chance, though, this will never see the light of day because we’re going to need a big chunk of financing from the bank, and we’re still dealing with insurance to get paid.”

He wasn’t sure about the value of the original building, but said rebuilding a single-story structure would cost approximately $1.2 million.

The design Huboi showed BenitoLink, though, is for a Spanish-style two-story structure. Sanchez said the cost would double if he decided to go with two stories.

“I’m sure his knowledge and expertise and connections in Hollister will help it go faster and smoother,” he said.

Huboi said the two-story building would include six apartments and four businesses. Because of Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, he said one apartment would be located on the ground floor. Since he is on the Hollister Planning Commission, he said he will have to recuse himself when the plans show up on the agenda for approval.

Sanchez said he hopes the recent changes in downtown will bode well for his business.

“My father and grandfather have been supporters of downtown for more than 50 years,” he said. “We take pride in being a small business downtown. Right now, we’re focused on trying to rebuild, but once that’s done, we’ll both be involved in some of the management, but I’m sure we’ll have to hire some people to help.”

Huboi told BenitoLink he wanted to keep the “historical context” in mind as he worked on the design for the new building so that it would resemble other historical buildings along San Benito Street.

“There are some technical issues associated with it that I’ve been trying to get the city engineering department to respond to,” he said. “I have to go through a lot of stormwater approvals. I didn’t have a lot of space there to put any drainage systems, though I did a plan of my own, so we’ll see how far it goes.”

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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]