Now that the Longworth Alley project is complete, during public comment, Tom Girard of Preservation Chelsea told the DDA that it was time to focus on selling the Mack Building.
He said since the DDA purchased the property at 100 Jackson St., it’s “condition has gone straight downhill” and he urged the board to “make the property viable.” Among his suggestions were protecting it from the weather with a new roof and “getting it structurally sound” for its sale.Among his suggestions were protecting it from the weather with a new roof and “getting it structurally sound” for its sale.
He urged them “don’t tear it down, make it economically viable for a developer.”
The city has issued an request for proposal for its sale with a deadline of no later than Aug. 14 at 1 p.m. In addition, the city is having a professional appraisal done, which is expected to be completed by Aug. 12.
Cathy Bean, also a member of Preservation Chelsea, sent the DDA a 3-page letter reminding them of the history and importance of the building. In the letter she said, “We acknowledge that the Mack Building is in need of extensive renovation, but we believe that [it] can be renovated and will continue to be an asset to the city.”
While acknowledging that an RFP for the building had been posted on the city website, the letter stated “in order to optimize the pool of potential buyers, the DDA needs to make a further financial investment …”
The letter asks the DDA to immediately address the building’s safety concerns to “allow prospective buyers to safely tour the site.” Also suggested was that the city list the property with a realtor on list it on specific preservation websites plus, place “for sale” signs on the building. Among the other suggestions were to market the building to firms that specialize in adaptive reuse and add a history of the building to the city’s RFP. The letter also suggests the DDA “Sell to the highest qualified bidder without imposing unrealistic financial restrictions, and be open to public-private partnerships.”
During public comment, Jan Bernath also urged the DDA to consider public/private partnerships in selling the building and push the deadline date back to allow adequate time for potential buyers to respond.
Members of Preservation Chelsea said they do not want the DDA to demolish the building and add another parking lot, saying the space would then be disconnected from the rest of the downtown.
At the end of the meeting, the DDA board discussed a work session in August before its regular Aug. 20 meeting. They want to discuss a number of smaller projects including the decorative fencing to block people from illegally crossing the railroad tracks, the stamped crosswalk project planned for the Main and Park Street intersection, additional planters for the Palmer parking lot, additional lighting on Main Street and improving the appearance of the old Federal Screw Works property.