McMinnville officials have agreed to establish a Tourism Development Authority. The measure passed unanimously.
Speculation is interest has been shown to purchase the Blue Building property for tourism development. Much like they did with the Industrial Development Board several years ago to recruit jobs, McMinnville officials could deed the Blue Building property to TDA and that organization could enter into an agreement with the interested party to encourage tourism development.
Based on discussion that preceded the vote, that rumor is true.
“I guess the Blue Building is going to be put into this,” asked Alderman Jimmy Bonner.
McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley stated, “There’s a possibility of that, yes.”
Bonner urged board members to declare the Blue Building property as surplus and auction it off to the highest bidder.
“I know the Blue Building has been tossed around like a jack and a ball,” said Bonner. “I don’t know why in the world, if this board don’t want to deal with the Blue Building to determine what its fate is, I think what we should do is put it up, sell it, and let the taxpayers share whatever we get out of it.”
Officials deeded the property to the Industrial Development Board several years ago and the IDB attempted to use it to recruit jobs. A company called StrategicWire tried to locate there but was not successful.
“I know the IDB tried to do something with it, but I think the building is beyond anyone wanting to go in there and spend millions of dollars trying to fix it up,” Bonner said. “Why don’t we just put it up and sell it? I would like for someone to tell me why we don’t do that. Let’s do something with it that will be a benefit to taxpayers. If it does go into their hands (TDA), how long will it take before its converted back over to the city if they don’t use it?”
The terms of the transfer have yet to be set and interest has indeed been shown in the property, says Haley.
“We’ll have to decide that, Mr. Bonner,” Haley said. “The Blue Building is not, necessarily, part of the Tourism Development Authority. This is something we’ve talked about in the past. It’s part of that Adventure Tourism District. It was recommended by the state that we create something like this to help market properties and encourage tourism development in the area. I’ve already had a couple of people mention to me their interest in the Blue Building and so we are trying to get a plan together.”
Mayor Jimmy Haley, Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Aldermen Jimmy Bonner, Ryle Chastain, Steve Harvey, Everett Brock and Mike Neal voted unanimously to establish the tourism authority. Yet to be determined is how many board members TDA will have, what qualifications a person must have to be a board member, how often the board will meet, etc.