New life for old city hall?

A company is interested in moving into Greenwood’s former city hall, but a study is needed to determine how much work the building needs.

Collaborating for Kids, which offers pediatric therapy, and five other medical services companies owned by the same person are interested in moving into the former Greenwood city hall building, known as the Polk Building at 2 N. Madison Ave. The companies, which have offices in Greenwood and Bloomington, would move about 150 jobs from other locations into the one building.

The building has been in need of work for years, and portions of it, including a former gymnasium, are closed off and haven’t been used in years. Past estimates for renovating the building have ranged from $1.5 million to $2.5 million. But city officials aren’t sure how much renovating the building could cost.

If the renovation cost is low enough, the city intends to pay for the renovations by using tax-increment financing, or TIF, district funds, city controller Adam Stone said.

So far, the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission agreed to pay $110,000 to complete a survey, environmental engineering, cleaning and protection on the gymnasium ceiling, and one-third of the architect’s fees to keep working toward updating the building.

Another $140,000 will need to be spent to get the building ready for someone to lease, Stone said. If after the initial $110,000 is spent, and the building is not in as good of shape as city officials thought, the city can put the project on hold, Stone said.

The redevelopment commission did not want to spend $250,000 then lose the investment if it found out that the building would cost too much to renovate, commission member Thom Hord said. So the board only approved $110,000 of the initial $250,000 needed and said it would receive updates on the building next month.

Portions of the building are unusable because of animals that have gotten into the structure. Bats that have used the 1,876-square-foot vacant gymnasium as their home must be dealt with before the city can move forward with leasing the property. The gymnasium ceiling has a few holes or cracks that bats have worked their way into, so city officials suggest sealing and putting up netting on the ceiling to prevent any further damage.

The structure was built in the 1920s as a community center and was changed to city offices in the 1980s. Last year, the city offices moved out.

“As long as our furry friends are in there, we cannot do a lot of the work that needs to be done because of environmental reasons, so we need to clean up the environmental issues that are there right now and prevent further environmental contamination from occurring,” Greenwood city attorney Krista Taggart said.

Fixing the ceiling and completing the survey will happen over the next month, before the weather gets warmer and the bats return, Taggart said. Once that work is done, the city can hire a contractor to renovate the building and find out how much will be needed to fix up the space. Until contractors give an estimate, city officials don’t know how much renovations will cost.

“Given the unique layout of the building and the unique history of the building, until we put this project out to bid, we’re not going to know,” Taggart said.

“We know, based upon the money that is coming in, how much money it makes sense to put into this building to make a good deal for the city.”

Collaborating for Kids would want to use the entire 28,000-square-foot building, including restoring the gymnasium to have events there on the weekends, Taggart said.

The company would pay about $144,000 a year to lease the space, not including utility payments, Taggart said. The business could pay an estimated $50,000 per year in property taxes, Taggart said.

Having another business in downtown Greenwood would bring more customers to local businesses. Parents who drop their children off for therapy could go to restaurants or stores, and employees could go to nearby restaurants on their lunch break, Taggart said.

Collaborating for Kids started with 10 therapists in 2010 but has expanded to more than 100 therapists and serves eight counties in Indiana. Therapists provide services for more than 500 families per week, according to the letter of intent from Collaborating for Kids.

The owner of Collaborating for Kids, Kim Castle, also owns five other medical-based companies in Greenwood: PharmaSouce, TheraSource, Key Wellness, Key Companion Care and Integrated Medical Experts. The work includes providing staffing of nurses or pharmacists for assisted living facilities or retail pharmacies and offering therapists for mental health needs.

By the numbers

Here is a look at the business considering moving into the former Greenwood city hall building:

Size of the building: 28,000 square feet

Companies moving in: Six

Cost of studies: Initially $110,000

Cost of additional studies: $140,000

Lease amount: $144,000 per year

Employees moving into that building: About 150

New jobs created: 0