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City agrees to sell Blue Building
city enters negotiations1.jpg
McMinnville Mayor Ryle Chastain, left, shakes hands with Blue Building savior Bobby Kirby following Tuesday night's city board meeting. Kirby's company wants to renovate the Blue Building for residential living.

City officials have agreed to enter into negotiations that could end with Investment Partners LLC being the new owner of the Blue Building. 

McMinnville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 4-0 Tuesday night to accept the proposal from Investment Partners developers Bobby Kirby, Lake Kirby and Jewell Hale. Voting in favor were Mayor Ryle Chastain, Vice Mayor Everett Brock, and Aldermen Sally Brock and Steve Harvey. 

That decision paved the way for negotiations to begin regarding their offer on the Blue Building property.

“I think we went about this in a very fair and legal way to sell this property,” said Harvey. “One thing I learned through this is that there are a lot of people in this town who are passionate about saving this building. Some so much that they are willing to purchase the building for that reason. I’ve also learned that there are people who are passionate about getting more housing in this town, and specifically in this area.” 

Harvey stated that he’s received numerous phone calls, texts and in-person comments in overwhelming support for the city selling the property to Investment Partners. 

Chastain expressed gratitude to finally be moving forward. 

“I’ve gone through three city election cycles for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and each and every one has produced multiple questions about this property,” said Chastain. “What the city’s intentions for it in the future? What my plans for the building would be? Nothing has ever come to fruition in the past and for as long as I can remember before then, since it was vacated by the city. I’m just glad to say that this board has finally taken action on it and it appears that something is going to be done with it.” 

Harvey added, “This has gone on way too many years. You’re right. It really has. All we’ve ever heard is how much that property is worth without the building on it. For the last 10 years that’s all everybody has been saying. Those people who wanted to buy it and get rid of the building had their opportunity. I would like to know where they are because this was out there for anybody to bid on.”

Chastain says he did receive a phone call requesting that the city reject all the proposals and sell the building to the highest bidder. “That was so he would have a shot at purchasing it, but he had that opportunity,” said Chastain.

“I had a realtor contact me,” said Sally Brock. “They asked me to vote for Investment Partners because this realtor was ready to move into a condominium that would be in the building. That’s a realtor unassociated with Investment Partners.”

At least two visitors spoke before the vote and expressed concern for conflicts of interest, referring to board members Rachel Kirby, who is married to Bobby Kirby and is the mother of Lake Kirby, and Everett and Sally Brock, who have owned property on South High Street for more than 30 years. 

“No matter who gets the proposal, we still own property there. Does that mean we cannot accept any proposal and we can’t vote because we own property? I don’t think so,” said Sally Brock. 

Everett Brock expressed concern for McMinnville Aluminum and Vinyl’s request for the Old Garage Property not being accepted and urged Investment Partners to be good neighbors. 

“I would hope that somewhere down the road, if we do vote for Investment Partners, that they reach an understanding with the folks at McMinnville Aluminum,” said Everett. “That’s the one thing I would like to see, even if it’s just a strip of land.”

Alderman Rachel Kirby abstained from voting, but she did make a comment. 

“I’m not legally obligated to abstain from voting because of my relationship, interest in this property and the developers as well,” Rachel said. “I wasn’t appointed to this seat. I didn’t put R. Kirby on an election sign and pretend to be someone else to get elected to this seat. However, because of the relationship and because it is the right thing to do, I am going to abstain.”

Absent from the meeting were Aldermen Zach Sutton and Stacey Harvey.