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Old Paso Robles Youth Correctional Facility has new owners; council approves redevelopment plans

The City of Paso Robles
The El Paso de Robles Youth Correctional Facility, also known as Estrella Boys School, closed in 2008

The long-vacant Paso Robles Juvenile Facility on Airport Road has new owners with big plans to redevelop the 137-acre site, which was presented at the city council meeting Tuesday night.

Covered in barbed wires, security cameras and filled with dilapidated buildings, the Estrella Boys School has been empty since closing in 2008. 

“Since then, there has been a standing question in the community of what's going to become of the site as it continues to become more blighted and deteriorate over time,” Community Development Director Warren Frace said.

Frace said the city has been working with the state of California for several years trying to come up with a reuse plan. After an idea by the city to purchase the land fell through, it has now been bought by Majestic Realty Co., a privately-held development company headquartered in Southern California.

Vice President for Majestic Realty, Phillip Brown, said they are calling their proposed project The Landing, playing off the history of the airport directly across from the site.

“We want this to be another reason for families and people vacationing to extend their stay in the city of Paso Robles," Brown said. " And really spend more of their tourist dollars and help the area grow.”

Brown said they envision building a winery, restaurants, hotel, museum and retail space. Their plan also includes a wide area of green space.

Councilmember John Hamon said that green space, while beautiful, can be a water use issue. 

“The problem is we are trying to convert people to think differently about large green space because of what it takes water-wise," Hamon said. "So hopefully we can have some drought-tolerant designs.”

Another issue that’ll need to be addressed, Councilman Fred Strong said, is figuring out the flow of traffic.

“At potentially up to 1,000 employees that will have to travel into that property, whether they live on 46 or south of 46, we have to handle that traffic one way or another," Strong said.

Mayor Steve Martin said while there are still plenty of areas of challenges that’ll need to be addressed in meetings to come, he believes the proposal is the best use for the city.

“Anybody who has looked at that property over the last 15 years has to look at this presentation and say 'this is as a total transformation,'" Martin said.

The city council gave a unanimous vote to continue with the proposed development plan.

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