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Editorial: Government moving back to heart of town

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Greenwood city government plans to move most of its offices into a single building and move out of the current city building and rented space on Emerson Avenue.

Mayor Mark Myers has signed the paperwork to close on the $1.75 million purchase of the Presnell Cos. building, making the city the owner of the four-story tower at the southwest corner of Main Street and Madison Avenue.

With the purchase, Greenwood hopes to save money by no longer paying rent, cutting down on travel time between buildings and sparking Old Town revitalization. Myers said he was making good on a promise to consolidate most city government offices into one building.

“This is great for the city and will serve as an anchor for commerce in the downtown,” Myers said. “It is a big step in the renovation of the area. I am excited to be a part of this transformation and am grateful for the support I have received from the common council and board of public works.”

Greenwood is taking out a loan for the purchase, which will be repaid with property tax dollars. Renovations would be paid for with tax dollars from tax-increment financing districts that collect most property taxes from new development in an area and channel that money back into road and other infrastructure projects that are aimed at luring more businesses.

The city expects to spend less than $4 million total to buy and renovate the building.

For the past decade, city officials had been considering building a new city hall, which most recently was estimated to cost at least $6.4 million. Taxpayers defeated one proposal in a remonstrance, and later plans stalled.

But the opportunity emerged to save taxpayers a significant amount of money when the Presnell building went into foreclosure, making it available for a reduced price, Myers said. Greenwood bought the building out of foreclosure for $1.75 million, or less than half the asking price of a few years ago.

The former owner had wanted $3.7 million for the 47,391-square-foot building. PNC Bank and Marian University currently lease space in the building and will continue to do so after city government moves in.

The mayor’s office and other departments now based at the 93-year-old former Polk Community House on Madison Avenue will relocate to the larger space down the street. The legal, engineering and planning departments will move out of space the city had been renting for $113,000 a year.

Renovations and remodeling should be completed by the end of the year.

The city hopes that the current city building will be redeveloped, possibly into condominiums or offices for private businesses, but hasn’t reached any decisions yet.

Creating a new city hall in the tower building will help centralize governmental operations and shows a strong commitment to the Old Town area, the heart of Greenwood. The city’s action will help maintain downtown commercial stability and perhaps even attract some businesses. In addition, it will help the city operate more efficiently.

The move clearly benefits city government and the community.

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