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Greenwood officially purchases Old Town tower

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Greenwood city government has a new future home.

Mayor Mark Myers signed the paperwork to close on the $1.75 million purchase of the Presnell Cos. building, making the city the owner of Old Town’s tallest building. The four-story tower at the southwest corner of Main Street and Madison Avenue will become home to city offices that are now scattered across Greenwood.

With the purchase, Greenwood hopes to save money by no longer paying rent at an Emerson Avenue office, 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 in a statement. “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 in total to buy and renovate the building.

For the past decade, city officials considered 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 from an office building on Emerson Avenue that the city had been renting for $113,000 a year.

First, the city will have to do extensive renovations that include installing more energy-efficient windows to cut down on long-term operating costs, Myers said.

The previous owner recently did a major renovation of the lobby that included a water veil, but more work will be needed to update the building and make it suitable for city offices, Myers said.

For instance, private offices on the fourth floor will be replaced with rows of cubicles to fit more employees in the same space.

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

Greenwood then will move out of the Emerson Avenue office building.

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.

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