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Landlords offer to lower police rent
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A new lease agreement could be under consideration between McMinnville officials and the owners of Red Road Business Park that could shave $2,204 off the monthly rent for McMinnville Police Department.
Owners of the facility have contacted the city about renegotiating the lease agreement. The information was presented to city Safety Committee members Tuesday night while they discussed the department and a possible relocation back to the Blue Building.
This is the third offer from Red Road Business Park owners to city officials to renegotiate the lease, with the first in September 2011 and the second in March 2012. The offer in 2012 was to redo the lease agreement to $3,500 a month in September 2013. Currently, rent is scheduled to increase from $2,000 to $5,704 in September.
Rather than renegotiate the current lease in 2012, officials decided to consider buying a building and moving the department. Under strong consideration was the Social Security building, but the deal fell through.
Safety Committee chairman Jimmy Bonner requested Mayor Jimmy Haley to begin negotiations and bring that information back before the committee.
Discussion also included a long-term solution for housing.
“I know the Blue Building has been discussed a lot,” said Bonner. “I would really love to see the back of the building, either renovated or took down and a new structure built, used for the police department.”
When no response came from fellow committee members Mike Neal and Rick Barnes, Bonner asked for Rutherford’s recommendation.
“Before you renovate that structure, I would suggest you employee an architect to do a thorough analysis of the building and provide cost estimates,” said Rutherford.
He also recommended board members generate a plan for future use.
“When you renovate a large structure, what are you going to put in there?” asked Rutherford. “Just to have it renovated and empty is no better than having it in its present condition.”
Haley says he has already contacted an architect and project engineer Peter Mets about touring the building to give the city a recommendation on feasibility, cost and doing the work in phases.
Haley discouraged putting the police department behind the building. Instead, he suggested the department should go in the main building.
“I think most people see that as the most readily available part of the building is the front,” Haley said. “It would be easier to do and it has already been used for city hall, if there is some way we could do that.”
He sided with Rutherford on planning.
“We do need a plan,” said Haley. “Renovating 65,000 square feet of space, as Mr. Rutherford said, doesn’t really accomplish a whole lot unless we have a plan for it. Otherwise, it’s empty space that’s not being utilized.”
Officials have yet to set a plan for use of the Blue Building. Suggestions include removing the gym and auditorium and building a new police department and/ or a new fire department, renovating and using the main building as a visitor’s center, renovating the entire building as a convention center/ visitor’s center, and sectioning the main building into offices and renting them out.
Suggested was establishing an ad hoc committee to review the options and make a recommendation.
“That sounds like a workable plan,” said Rutherford. “I think people need to understand it will take some time. There probably won’t be anything for the next couple of months.”
Alderman Ken Smith says he would also like to bring in a structural engineer to inspect the building.
“Based on what we saw the other day, I would recommend bringing in a structural engineer,” Smith said. “I’m not an engineer, but I can tell there were major cracks in the facility.”
The push to move the police department from its current location in Red Road Business Park was spurred by the rent increase in September from $2,000 a month to $5,704 a month.
Considered a temporary solution by officials at the time, the business provided 11,409 square feet of space at no charge for the first 13 months. Over the course of four years, monthly rent has increased to $1,000 the second year to $2,000 the fourth year. That’s an average of 9 cents per square foot.
Members of the ad hoc committee have yet to be determined.