The fate of the Blue Building property is back under discussion by McMinnville officials.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen met Tuesday night to discuss and accept an appraisal by William Haston Sr.
“Not surprising, the building and grounds as a unit were valued at $850,000,” said city attorney Tim Pirtle. “The land would be worth, according to his appraisal, more without the building. In other words, getting rid of the building would increase the value of the property. He does not view the building as an asset, but a detriment to the value of the property.”
The property is valued at $1.3 million. However, Haston’s appraisal deducted $500,000 for removal of the building.
Approved by the city Building and Grounds Committee was to pursue two appraisals, with the second one from David Mainord out of Cookeville.
“If you want the second appraisal, I think you should be prepared to commit at least $5,000 for it,” said Pirtle. “Particularly if you want that appraisal to do an interior inspection. We will also need to secure permission from our insurance carrier for someone to enter the building for that purpose. Technically the Blue Building is locked down, as far as our insurance company is concerned.”
Haston’s appraisal cost the city $1,500.
The information prompted a discussion on the property’s fate.
“That building being in the Historic Zoning District is a value depressant,” said Alderman Stacey Harvey. “It’s going to be hard enough to get someone to take that building. Let’s say someone wants to save it. It’s going to be hard enough to get someone to invest that kind of money into that building and then have to deal with an autonomous Historical Zoning Commission. That’s a deal breaker in my opinion. If we are going to do anything with that building, the first thing that needs to happen is it needs to be removed from the Historic Zoning District by the board. Then, maybe, we’d have a marketable piece of property.”
Alderman Everett Brock said, “I don’t think anybody could make the dollars work to rehab it.”
Said Harvey, “It would require someone with $4 million to $6 million and a big sentimental soft spot in their heart.”
Alderman Rachel Kirby suggested federal funding might be possible, but Harvey voiced doubt.
“It’s been vacant for so long, if it were available someone should have already done that,” said Harvey. “I think the time for all this pie in the sky has passed. It’s time to make a deal or forever hold your peace. If there’s someone in the city that wants to buy it, it’s my opinion that we need to declare it surplus property and determine how we get rid of it. If someone wants to buy it, put your money where your mouth is.”
Pirtle said the city can declare the property surplus at any time and determine which venue to use in order to liquidate it – sealed bids, live auction, or list it and sell it through a negotiated contract.
Pirtle also voiced his opinion the property needs to be sold without strings attached.
“In the 10 years that I’ve represented the city, there have been three legitimate prospects that have sat down to talk about it,” said Pirtle. “Each and every one of them refused any suggestion of being restricted or told what they can or cannot do with what’s there. If you are going to sell it, you’ll probably have to sell it with no strings attached.”
Kirby suggested removing the building, but keeping the property, “Its beautiful prime real estate right in the middle of our town.”
“It is,” said Harvey. “But if we spend $500,000 taking it down, how much do we recover of that? If the value is $1.3 million and there’s $500,000 in it to take it down, the net, net is still $850,000. We take on all that liability, we take on all that hub bub, we upset people and we do all that and not improve our position at all? I believe we should open it to the open market. Let the open market decide. Spending money to not make money is not in my repertoire. That’s not the way you do business. You spend money to make money.”
“I don’t think we have a use for it,” said Brock. “We’ve got parks all over the place in this general area. If we need a park, it needs to be out on the bypass someplace, in that general area. I don’t see what this adds to downtown. I would rather see it bringing in money rather than us putting money into it.”
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen made no decision on removing the property from the Historic Zoning District, or putting it up for sale. However, they did reject obtaining a second appraisal on the property.