Council is open to off-sale liquor license applications

By Seth Schmidt

City of Tracy leaders are signaling a willingness to consider one or more off-sale liquor licenses to private business enterprises and end the operation of a municipal liquor store.

Accepting a recommendation from an advisory committee, the city council Monday instructed City Administrator Kris Ambuehl to draft “Request for Proposal” language whereby private parties could apply for a city-issued off-sale liquor license.   

The council will likely consider the RFP language at their August 13 meeting,  and decide whether to proceed with taking off-sale liquor license applications.

The private liquor license discussion was sparked by the announcement last week, that an unnamed investor group is considering a $3.5 million redevelopment plan of the former Red Rooster property on Hwy. 14.

The plan includes a travel center, fueling stations, laundromat,  car wash, and retail liquor store.  Representatives of the Tracy Development Corp., which owns the Red Rooster site, said the investor group wants to know whether city government would consider an off-sale liquor license application for the project.  The group has also indicated that they would consider buying the inventory at the municipal liquor store,  and operating the South St. site until their new facility is completed.

The city’s advisory liquor store committee, made the following recommendations, regarding the granting of a liquor license to any group, and the take-over of the municipal store:

• Purchase of inventory at 100% of invoiced cost.

• Jan. 1, 2019 takeover date.

• Fulfill one of two options:  New store construction within Tracy City Limits; or refurbish the existing municipal store location or vacant building within city limits.

• Carry over current staff.

• Be allowed to operate in current location until Jan. 1, 2020.

• • •

Ambuehl said that “there are a lot of parameters” for a city to follow in taking applications for a private, off-sale liquor license.   He said that the license application process would need to be open to all, and that it would be up to the council to decide which application to accept, and whether more than one off-sale license should be granted.  State law prohibits selling its liquor store inventory for less than its cost, he noted, and statute also sets the amount the city can charge for an off-sale license:  $240.

Council consensus was to consider RFP language on August 13, and possibly set a Sept. 30 deadline for interested parties to submit an off-sale liquor license application.