The City Commission approved a resolution Thursday night establishing fair market value for five properties equaling roughly $1 million that are needed to upgrade stormwater improvements generated by flooding on King Creek.
The properties are bounded by West Market, Boone, King and Montgomery streets and include the property formerly owned by Commissioner Jane Myron known as Black Tie Formal Wear. Commissioners Thursday approved only the fair market value of the properties as appraised by William A. Miller Co., not to acquire them.
“The City Commission must first agree on fair market value,” said Public Works Director Phil Pindzola. “From here, there will be negotiations with the property owners. If they reject the offer, we’ll ask them to give us a reason why, and we’ll negotiate further. And if that does not work out, we’ll come to the commission and ask for condemnation.”
The properties include Myron’s former property at 200 W. Market St., which was appraised at $133,900. Other properties on West Market include 204 (Kindred Young, $262,400), 210 (Evelyn Moore, $82,000), and 214 (Patton property: $129,200). The final property at 102 Montgomery St., identified as the Whaley property, was appraised at $54,300 for a total cost of $1,022,300.
Pindzola said he’s talked with all property owners, and if the acquisitions go smoothly, demolition could begin in spring. Demolition costs are estimated at about $25,000 per property.
The city’s stormwater plan includes removing these structures to provide retention areas that could hold runoff and let it flow into a lower portion of the creek. In the long term, the city will open these areas up and create a larger scale project that will include the U-Haul property.
Funding for the acquisitions will come from the city’s stormwater utility fund.
“What if they come back and ask for moving expenses?” asked Commissioner Clayton Stout.
“I’m not aware of any relocation needs, because only a few are still being used for storage,” he said. “But if that were to occur, we have to come back to the commission to have you approve those costs. And it may be that if negotiations fail, we’ll need to come back and ask for condemnation. If America did not have the power to condemn, we wouldn’t have an interstate system.”
Meanwhile, Pindzola said Thursday that the search for Washington County-Johnson City animal shelter’s new home has been narrowed to two possible locations: the 103 L.P. Auer Road location and a site at 2809 W. Walnut St.
Until late June, it appeared the L.P. Auer site, with its 16,000-square-foot building, was locked in. But City Manager Pete Peterson and County Mayor Dan Eldridge agreed to solicit alternative sites.
In late August, after assembling a short list of possible sites, the city also sent a request to the county asking for a list of county-owned land that may be available.
“We believe it still may be in the best interest of taxpayers to purchase vacant land and build a brand new facility,” Pindzola said at the time. “We think a new building would be in the $650,000 to $750,000 range, and that doesn’t include the cost of land.”
And that’s where things seem to be heading.
An architect with Charlottesville, Va., firm Daggett and Gregg Architects has been hired since that time and is now preparing proposals for the $700,000 purchase and renovation of the L.P. Auer site and the purchase of the West Walnut site, which has a 13,000-square-foot building on 2.5 acres priced at $575,000 and an additional 4.7 acres of vacant land valued at $188,000.
Pindzola said it is most likely this building would be taken down and a new building would be built.
The County Commission’s General Health and Welfare Committee and its Budget Committee had recommended the commission approve a joint purchase of the L.P. Auer property, providing up to $350,000 toward the $700,000 purchase. After discussions with Peterson, Eldridge asked that the recommendation be revisited at a later date.
In July, the City Commission approved an allocation not to exceed $350,000 from its Industrial Park/Med-Tech Park fund to meet the county’s match to relocate the animal shelter.