The lots of Washington
Does the City of Washington own entirely too much property within the city limits, or are there just a few plots that the city has simply not gotten around to selling?
This question came up at a recent city council meeting when council member Bob Shellmyer requested the city sell the property it still owned before moving ahead with a project to expand the city offices. He explained that the project would require the city to purchase several neighboring lots. Shellmyer said that unless the city makes an effort to get the properties that it owns sold, he would not vote to proceed with the city office project.
“Why should we buy more properties when we already have all these properties around town?” he asked.
City administrator Brent Hinson confirmed today that the city has two lots within the city limits that are sellable. The properties include a lot in the 200 block of South Marion Avenue that formerly contained the collapsed Tienda la Cruz market and a house lot on North Second Avenue. He said the fire department burned the house that formerly sat on the lot as a means of demolishing it.
Hinson also said that there are two properties in town that held houses that had to be removed by the city due to meth contamination. He said the city does not currently own the properties, but has assessed the cost to the properties. He said it is possible the city will gain possession of them.
“It is a fair criticism on Tienda la Cruz, because we got that demo done and I think everyone just breathed sigh of relief that it was done,” he said. “We just haven’t turned around and got it marketed yet.”
Hinson said that marketing the property is on his “to do” list. He also said that the procedure to sell the house on South Second needs to be set so the property can be sold.
Shellmyer said that over a year ago he told the council, “We don’t need to be the biggest land owner in Washington.” He said that he had brought up the selling of the properties several times to no avail.
Hinson said that Shellmyer had spoken of properties that are set aside for the proposed industrial park and the proposed wellness park. Shellmyer said today that he had not been referring to those properties when he addressed the council.
“If it is not a project Brent is 110 percent for, he just forgets about it,” Shellmyer said.
He also said that the city had spent $200,000 to remove the Tienda la Cruz building and he feels that the lot will only get about $30,000. He said in over three years the city had never contacted a realtor about marketing the property.
Hinson said that he feels the lot on South Second will be sold quickly, but he feels the South Marion property will be harder to sell. He said that the city would want a developer purchasing the property to construct a building that would properly match the other buildings in the area. Hinson said council members have said they wanted to see a two-story brick building that fits in with the downtown built on the lot.
“If you just want to stick a ‘for sale’ sign out there, I don’t think that would be an effective method of disposing of those properties and getting what we want out of those properties,” Hinson said.
Shellmyer said that unless a ‘for sale’ sign is put up, an interested party may drive past and not even know the properties could be purchased.