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Uncertainty surrounds future of Blue Building
Blue Building color
The Blue Building has been vacant since November 2009. Efforts to find a tenant or buyer for the property have failed thus far.

McMinnville officials created the Tourism Development Board in 2017. It works similar to the Industrial Development Board (IDB), but while IDB focuses on industrial  recruitment, TDB’s focus is on promoting tourism.

TDB’s powers include the authority to hold title to property, to convey property, to lease property, and to sell property. Importantly, it has the authority to authorize the issuance of tax-exempt bonds in financing tourism development projects, like the IDB has the authority to authorize the issuance of tax-exempt bonds for the purpose of promoting industry.

Several years ago, McMinnville officials deeded the Blue Building over to the IDB to encourage industrial development by entering into an agreement with StrategicWire to lease the property with the intent of creating 150 jobs.

The jobs never materialized and the property reverted back to the city.

Speculation is interest has been shown in the purchase of the Blue Building and its 4 acres for tourism development. While the city cannot arbitrarily sell property to an interested buyer, TDB can.

Much like they did with the IDB, McMinnville officials could deed the property to TDB and that organization could enter into an agreement with an interested party.

According to the TDB’s minutes from March 19, potential development of the Blue Building as a hotel by a development group occurred.

In this discussion, the group reiterated the need for the developer to provide an Irrevocable Letter of Credit to TDB to demonstrate to the city of McMinnville the developer had financial viability. Additionally, the board conferred the necessity of a timeline on this request from the developer to avoid further delay, which was April 15.

However, in Monday’s TDB meeting, the board emphasized this wasn’t a hard, fast deadline.

“We just asked for him to give us some kind of response by April 15,” said Mayor Jimmy Haley. “I don’t care to write him a letter from this board saying we do exist. We are an arm of the city and the city does own the building so if he wants something in writing for the bank, I can do that.”
“He knows that,” said Michael D. Griffith. “He’s trying to get us to commit beforehand. There is absolutely nothing that we can offer them we haven’t already offered.”

Other board members concurred while nodding their heads in agreement.

Griffith added, “This is just my opinion, but I think we’re done. I think at this point we can pursue other options or we can move to something that’s higher priority. He knows what he’s doing and we’ve bent over backwards for him already. It’s DOA. It’s time to move on.”