Redevelopment agreement on vacant building proceeds through Council

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


No comments were made during a public hearing on the sale of the former Red Bear/Linda Lou?s building and grounds, and the Washington City Council had minimal discussion before voting unanimously to proceed with a redevelopment agreement with Pam Panm LLC/AllenMitchell CPAs that includes demolishing the building.

The building, which has sat empty for years, will be demolished at the city?s expense to make way for a new office building. The city will recoup its demolition expenses with revenues from the Tax Increment Finance district the building is located in. The city is required to demolish the building no later than Dec. 31. According to the agreement a new building will be constructed on the site within 18 months.

?We are able to move quickly,? Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said. ?I already have a firm coming to do the asbestos survey and get ready for abatement of that and do a phase one environmental. They will be doing that during the beginning of next week.?

Closing date for the building is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2019.

Mayor Jaron Rosien also said Main Street Washington will be working to find development tax credits that can be used for the demolition and the new building for such things as possible state matching funds to remove asbestos.

Pam Panm LLC/AllenMitchell CPAs agreed to purchase the 8,500 square foot building and land from the city for $75,000, agreeing to construct an 8,000 square foot building on the site. Hinson said the firm would use half the building for its offices and rent out the other half as office space. Previously the city had purchased the building with the plans of using it for a parking lot if the former Washington Public Library building were used as a city hall. After that plan was rejected by the council, the city marketed the former library and the Red Bear/Linda Lou building.

Hinson said, according to projections, the new building would create $450,000 in taxable valuation.

The development agreement also says Main Street Iowa architects will be used to design the building to ensure the project is consistent with Main Street design standards.

Council member Brandon DeLong asked about what security measures the city was taking in case the developer backed out of the deal. He asked if the city has already demolished the building if the developer would have to repay the demolition costs. Hinson said demolition would happen between Thanksgiving and Christmas, leaving plenty of time for the developer to leave the agreement. The developer has also given the city $5,000 in earnest money to ensure the project would move ahead.

In other business, the council:

? Approved an agreement for geotechnical services with Terracon for the Wellness Park. Council member Steve Gault opposed the action. During previous meetings Gault said he would oppose votes regarding the Wellness Park because he felt the design was making it specifically a sporting complex and not a park;

? Approved an agreement with Martin Gardner Architect to design improvements to the Woodlawn Cemetery Shelter;

? Approved a resolution supporting a traffic engineering assistance study for the East Washington Street and South 12th Avenue intersection; and

? Approved a revised treatment agreement with Iowa Renewable Energy for additional wastewater flow from the plant;

? Tabled discussion on amending the contract for operation of the joint city/county recycling center until Wemiga representatives could be at a meeting.