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With buildings gone, what next?
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McMinnville officials are discussing what to do about two vacant lots owned by the city on Main Street.
“There have been several requests from folks who want to purchase 207 and 209, two lots we’ve had for a while on Main Street,” said Alderman Billy Wood.
The lots were acquired by the city in May 2011 in a deal with the former owners to clean them up and remove the debris after a downtown fire in 2008.
“There have been several inquiries about purchasing those and I just need to know what the wishes of the board are,” said Wood.
“Tell them to make an offer,” said Alderman Junior Medley.
“Well, I think we have to advertise it,” said Wood.
Vice Mayor Everett Brock said some thought should be given to how this should be handled.
“What I think is we need to make sure whoever buys it doesn’t just buy it and hold onto it,” Brock said. “That they’ve got something they really want to do, not just buy the thing and hold it for investment purposes.”
“Well, I think if we sell it, we’ve sold it,” said Wood, noting he didn’t think the city could dictate what could be done with the property. City attorney Tim Pirtle said there could be conditions added to the deed, but first the property would have to be appraised.
“It’s not making us a dime as it is,” said Wood.
“But it’s not going to make us a dime if it sits there as open ground either,” said Brock. “I’d love somebody to get all five of those lots and go crazy with it and make something that blends in with downtown. I just hate to see the thing get bought by somebody, whether in town or out of town, and then just sit there.”
“Well, put that stipulation in there,” said Wood.
City administrator David Rutherford addressed that issue.
“One of the things we need to realize is when you put these conditions in is that you do want to have investment made,” Rutherford said. “If it’s going to stay vacant it might as well stay vacant in city ownership. Another thing is the construction is going to have to comply with the historic zoning district. So people need to understand that.”
Alderman Jimmy Haley said that shouldn’t be a real problem.
“It doesn’t have to look old,” Haley said. “It just has to blend with the streetscape. The Chamber is a perfect example. It’s a brand new building but it blends with what’s there. It just keeps things like prefabricated metal or concrete block buildings being set in the middle of town where nothing blends with it.”
Haley said there were some major tax advantages to the pilot program in place in McMinnville.
“They could develop a multi-million dollar project for the assessed value of the land,” Haley said. “That’s all they’re taxed on is the value of the land. So if it’s assessed at $40,000 and they acquired the other three lots down there it might be less than $150,000 that they’re being taxed on. That’s a good incentive.”
“Well, I’ve had two local people talk to me the same way, two contractors,” said Brock. “And I think Junior has talked to one or two also.”
“Could it be apartments?” asked Medley.
“For the pilot program, it has to be commercial downstairs and it can be apartments upstairs,” Haley said. And that’s what we need downtown is some business space.”
Rutherford said the board needs to go ahead and decide what it wants to do.
“Is the board interested in declaring that property surplus and moving forward?” Rutherford asked.
“I couldn’t get any answer before when I had somebody who was interested a year ago when we first got the property,” Haley said.
“Are we interested in selling it?” Wood asked again.
“Under the right conditions, yes I think we’re interested in selling it,” said Brock.
“If we aren’t going to sell it there’s no point in discussing it. We’ve going to beat this horse to death,” said Wood, obviously frustrated. “If you want to sell it raise your hand,” he added.
“OK, you made a motion,” said Brock. “Does anybody second it?”
“I second it,” said Medley, noting that his two lots at 201 and 203 E. Main Street are also for sale. A third lot in the middle, at 205 E. Main Street, is owned by Mark Latka. It was demolished last week and the debris is in the process of being removed.
“Are we making it with any stipulations?” asked Alderman Clair Cochran.
“The motion is to declare it surplus property and then agree upon the stipulations on which it will be sold,” said Wood.
The motion passed unanimously, with Wood asking Rutherford if the board should add the stipulations at the current meeting.
“Let Tim (Pirtle) and I draft some and bring them to you at the next meeting for your consideration,” said Rutherford. “Junior has raised a good point. There’s potentially five lots and if you kind of move forward with the right pace, maybe you can get some interest in all the properties.”
It was agreed to look at those stipulations at the next meeting.