VENTURA : Plans to Sell Peirano Building Advance

The developer who planned to raze Ventura's historic Peirano building has received a tentative OK from a City Council committee to go ahead with the project, even though financial backers have withdrawn.

Tom Wood, president of Ventura Realty, told the council's economic committee last week that company shareholders may not support the deal, but that he and his father, Jack Wood, still want to build the project.

Wood told city officials he will look for funding elsewhere, the officials said.

The committee decided to recommend that the city negotiate the sale of the historic building to Wood. The City Council is expected to make the final decision July 25.

In March, Wood proposed knocking down all but two walls of the old grocery to expose a laundry underneath. Wood then wanted to restore the lavanderia and surround it with restaurants, shops and offices.

Peirano's Market operated on Main Street from 1877 to 1987, when the city bought it from the Peirano family with the intention of preserving it as a historic landmark.

The lavanderia , a 26-by-30-foot tile-lined pool, may have served as the laundry for the San Buenaventura Mission across the street.

Angry residents with sentimental attachments to the grocery jammed the council chambers and urged the politicians to reconsider.

But with the cost estimated at $430,000 just to bring Ventura's oldest brick building up to earthquake standards, council members said they would not oppose tearing the structure down.

For months following the meeting, city officials tried to negotiate a deal with Ventura Realty, but the company's shareholders balked at such a controversial project.

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