Dan Johnson discusses Samoa’s future

Samoa, the salty suburb.
Union file photo

Andrew George Butler
Mad River Union

SAMOA – Twenty eight homes in Samoa will go up for sale in the fall of 2019 as part of the township’s renovation project, led by the Samoa-Pacific Group, and built by Danco.

Dan Johnson, owner of Danco (one of Humboldt’s largest construction contractors) and partner in the Samoa-Pacific Group which bought the entire town of Samoa in 2001, presented a master plan for the town a meeting July 26 at the Samoa Cookhouse.

The plan outlines what is best described as a complete overhaul of almost every existing structure within the old mill town. Twenty eight existing homes will be upgraded and given new water heaters, stripped of their lead paint, and upgraded with other modern amenities.

The town’s sewage and water lines will be upgraded and rerouted through Vance Street, one of the town’s main thoroughfares. The Samoa Cookhouse will even get a bit of work. The old brothel hiding upstairs in the Cookhouse, which dates back to the heyday of logging in Humboldt, will be converted into a 20-unit hostel.

Johnson said of the plan “Making [Samoa] what it once was is what’s best for the community.”

Samoa will also receive several new structures. An 80-unit affordable housing complex, grocery store, and a wellness center are in the works. The town’s center will be made into more of a community plaza as well.

The only building slated for removal is the time-soaked Fireman’s Club. Johnson said there will be a distinct difference in appearance between what will be “old town” and “new town” Samoa.

Samoa’s master plan is expected to be completed by the end of 2027. The Samoa-Pacific Group currently owns and operates the town, including all of its utilities and the maintenance that goes along with it. Johnson said the hope is to sell off the town overtime so that it may turn into its own municipality.

Johnson said that in order to keep housing prices low most of the home’s will not receive more work than they need. That’s not to say they’ll be skimped on, but don’t expect Samoa to become a million dollar home community. Johnson said the majority of homes will stay at about $325,000, with the lowest expected value nearing $150,000 and the highest near $900,000.

“We are purposely trying to keep prices low, so that the people here can buy them,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that hundreds of people have called expressing interest in buying homes, and that about half are local and half are out of the area.

Johnson admitted undertaking Samoa’s rebirth hasn’t been a stress-free venture.

The master plan took seven years and millions of dollars in reports to matriculate through the California Coastal Commission. Samoa’s master plan came out of the process with 196 pages of “conditions of approval.” The most any previous project in Humboldt County had earned was a mere 78 pages.

Johnson said that because of the time and money invested in the renovation of Samoa, he views it as a legacy project of sorts. “We are bringing an icon back to life.”


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