We didn’t inhale, San Diego’s downtown redevelopment agency says.

No one used a massive cigar humidor that the agency, the Centre City Development Corp., has put up for sale, said David Allsbrook, CCDC’s vice president for acquisitions and property management. No one bought cigars to put inside it, either, Allsbrook said.

“We have no use for a cigar humidor,” Allsbrook said.

Instead, the humidor purchase was part of the furniture the agency bought in late 2008 to buy out the lease of 57 Degrees, a wine shop that was on G Street in East Village. The land is planned as a future parks site.

The buyout cost $922,500. The humidor was $8,100.

That an organization tasked with making lucrative downtown real estate deals would own a humidor evokes images of smoke-filled backrooms. But Allsbrook said that the agency was required by law to buy the humidor. It had been installed as one of the building’s fixtures and there was concern the humidor would have been damaged if removed.

“Under the law he can elect to sell it to us and he did,” Allsbrook said.

In its sales brochure, the agency described the humidor as “a custom blonde wood cedar interior 20-drawer finish humidifier.” It’s almost five feet tall and more than four feet wide. It’s so big CCDC couldn’t get it in the door of the building where it’s selling other office supplies.

David Baker, president of local cigar wholesaler Cuban Cigar Factory, estimated the humidor could easily fit a couple thousand cigars.

Once CCDC bought the place, the story became a little smoky.

Allsbrook said the owner of 57 Degrees ripped out the humidor and took it with him, busting the door frame as he tried to remove it.

The agency called the owner and told him it was going to dock $8,100 off the purchase price because the humidor was gone. The owner, Allsbrook said, returned the humidor without any damage. It now sits in a CCDC storage facility.

This turn of events brings up an interesting question. Why did CCDC take the humidor back?

It had to, Allsbrook said.

“We determined that because we had made that offer to purchase and he had removed it we still were obligated to pay for it,” he said. “We have the item. We got what we were supposed to get.”

Had humidor stayed in the wall, CCDC would have required whoever bought it to take it out on their dime, Allsbrook said.

As for now, he said, CCDC will take “whatever we can get for it.”

The price for the humidor would depend on its condition and the kind of wood, said Baker, the cigar wholesaler. But in any case he said CCDC will have trouble getting its money back. The economy is bad.

“I can’t imagine anyone paying four grand for it,” Baker said. “I would be shocked if they got that.”

He expected the agency would get less than $2,000.

Still, CCDC already has found one person who might take the humidor off its hands.

“It sounds interesting,” Baker said. “I might be interested in buying it.”

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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