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County votes to buy mall
Terry Bell.jpg
Terry Bell

The County Commission unanimously voted to begin the process to purchase the JC Penney building and a portion of Three Star Mall. 

At the County Commission meeting Monday night, commissioners voted on two resolutions to authorize the county executive to enter into and execute a real estate purchase agreement relative to the portion of the Three Star Mall complex and the former JC Penney building and execute a deed and other necessary closing documents. The plan is to put the Warren County Health Department in the JC Penney building. 

“We are paying $4,143,360 for the JC Penney property for the health department,” said County Executive Terry Bell. 

The county received a $9 million grant for a new health department and a portion can be used on the purchase of the building, and the remainder will be used on the renovations. Bell addressed the roof concerns and explained that the roof over the VA was redone in 2022, another portion was redone in 2018 and the Roses roof was done in 2005. That leaves approximately 30,000 square feet left to redo. 

The purchase of the remainder of the mall from JC Penney to Roses will allow the county to house the McMinnville Warren County Senior Center, UCHRA and potentially the Veteran’s Service Officer. 

“It is $2,256,640 for the possible expansion of the Warren County Senior Center, UCHRA and possibly putting our Veteran’s Services Officer in the other portion of the mall,” said Bell.

“I would just like to reiterate that we have no intentions for any of the tenants to leave. We want them to stay. We actually can use a few more tenants when all these things are done,” said Commissioner Scott Rubley. 

“We want to make sure our businesses stay and hopefully we can get these other people over there and give them some more space,” said Bell. 

Commissioner Charles Dotson asked about the $1 million grant UCHRA has and Bell said it will be used for renovations.

“Just like the senior center, these places are not ready for them to move over there. There will have to be a lot of renovations. UCHRA will have to have offices built and have some restrooms and I know the Senior Center will have to have a kitchen put in,” said Bell.

“Is the senior center planning to sell their buildings on Morrison Street?” asked Dotson.

“I’ll just be honest with you, the board wants to proceed on but we have to work out some kind of lease. We don’t have that worked out yet, but they are interested in proceeding on with that and we hope we can work out a good deal that they can live with and we can live with too,” said Bell. 

Commissioner Steven Helton asked how they will determine what businesses will be able to move into the mall. 

“I would hope if we put the people we have lined up to go there that there would not be a whole lot of space left for anybody else to go. I would hope those businesses would thrive and not want to leave. That would be something this county court would have control of,” said Bell.

“Would we have a so-called property manager?” asked Commissioner Randy England.

“That’s what I would like to see put in place. But we have to buy it before we can go down that road,” said Bell.

After the discussion the commission voted to approve both resolutions. Commissioner Chris Rippy was the only commissioner absent.