Almost two years after the old Greenwood city hall hit the market, officials are still trying to find a new tenant.
Now, the city is trying another approach to find someone to lease or buy the 28,000-square-foot building at 2 N. Madison Ave.: paying a commercial broker $45,000 to market the property.
Members of the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission, which owns the building, say the expense is worthwhile because a broker can find potential tenants the city wouldn’t be able to attract on its own. By March, the city board wants to select a broker, who will market the building to businesses or companies looking to move or add another location.
A timetable for the broker to successfully find a buyer or tenant has not been determined.
But if the hired broker finds a buyer or tenant for the building in the following months, they will get $45,000 — which is about 7 percent of the $635,000 appraisal price, Greenwood special project assistant Kevin Steinmetz said.
If the broker doesn’t find a tenant or buyer, whether the city would still pay the fee has not been determined. The terms of the contract have not been set, city attorney Krista Taggart said.
The city decided to move out of the former city hall, rather than renovate it, because it would have cost about $2.5 million to upgrade to the facility. After an environmental study, some work was done to fix the ceiling where bats were getting in. But repairs will still be needed, depending on who moves in, or purchases it, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.
For example, part of the building’s parking lot used to be a gas station, so the city may need to drill to find out if the ground is contaminated, redevelopment commission board member Mike Campbell said.
The city likely will have to help pay for repairs that are needed and work to re-purpose the building for the business or company that moves in, Myers said.
Last year, the redevelopment commission approved spending $146,500 for environmental studies and improvements to the building, such as the repairs to the ceiling, and marketing the property. About $42,000 that was left over will be used to hire a broker, preferably one that has experience marketing older buildings, Steinmetz said.
“We exhausted our own leads, so now we’re kind of back to zero,” Campbell said.
Twice, the city was close to reaching a deal with a company to take over, or move in, but both fell through, officials said.
In July 2014, a developer from Ohio offered to buy the building and planned to invest about $8 million to renovate the structure and turn it into an assisted living apartment complex. In February 2015, a pediatric therapy office was interested in moving in and would have brought about 150 jobs. But in both instances, negotiations fell through because the city and the business couldn’t reach an agreement, Campbell said.
But the idea all along has been to find the right business, and not just the first one that contacted the city, Myers said.
Officials envision the old city hall becoming an office building for several businesses, or a doctor’s office, a restaurant like Revery or a new brewery. The building is in the city’s downtown tax increment financing, or TIF, district, so officials want a tenant that will draw people in and pay property taxes that will help fund future projects, redevelopment commission board member Mike Tapp said.
Tapp is concerned the old city hall could become an eyesore if a company or business doesn’t move in soon.
“We want to be cautious with who we move in the building, but it’s way beyond time to get someone in that building. We don’t want that building to be the eyesore of downtown,” he said.
Due to the years that have already passed, Tapp is concerned the redevelopment commission will have to put money into the building before a tenant or buyer is found.
“We’re not at that crossroads yet, but we’re getting very close. Once the broker puts this on the market and we see the results we get, it could drive us to putting money into the building while it’s still on the sales block,” Tapp said.
Once the redevelopment commission selects a broker, board members will discuss what type of businesses the city would like to see at the old city hall, Tapp said. Incentives or financial assistance the city might provide won’t be discussed until the city knows which company is moving in.