City purchases downtown building

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
The city of Leavenworth is purchasing the building at 600 Cherokee St. for $205,000. City officials hope to resell the building to a developer.

Leavenworth city commissioners voted this week to purchase a vacant building with the intent of reselling it for redevelopment in the downtown area.

The city will purchase the building at 600 Cherokee St. for $205,000. City Manager Paul Kramer said the city will issue a request for proposals from developers who may be interested in the property.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the building when they met Tuesday.

The multi-story building, which once housed a business called Club Venom, has been vacant for more than a decade, Kramer said.

The structure was built in 1890 and has more than 12,000 square feet.

“People are interested in this building,” Kramer said.

But he said the gap between what the owner has asked for the property and the cost to rehabilitate the structure has kept the building from being purchased by a private owner.

Kramer said the city will purchase the building from Blue Star Properties using money collected through a countywide sales tax. He said this money has been set aside for economic development.

Kramer said he does not anticipate the city will be able to recoup all of the money it is paying for the property through the resale of the building.

“This is a little bit unorthodox but not uncommon,” he said. “We have done this a handful of times.”

Kramer said he hopes the city can close on the building next week. He said RFP proposals submitted to the city may be opened in about 30 days. He said the winning proposal will be selected by the City Commission.

Kramer said city officials envision the ground level of the building being used for retail and commercial development and lofts in the upper levels.

Mayor Nancy Bauder suggested the project may add value to the city’s tax base as well as to the community in general.

“I wouldn’t want to make a habit out of this,” she said.

In other business

The Leavenworth City Commission:

• Approved a bid from Lexeco, Leavenworth, in the amount of $694,656 for phases two and three of a stormwater improvement project at 16th Terrace and Thornton Street.

• Approved a bid from Harbour Construction, Kansas City, Kansas, in the amount of $143,810 for granite seal street projects.

• Approved a change order for a sewer project at Fourth and Olive streets in the amount of $21,409.

• Reached a consensus to advance a proposed ordinance to authorize the issuance of $9.63 million in general obligation bonds. The ordinance will be brought back to commissioners during a future meeting for a final vote.

Commissioners also reached a consensus to advance an ordinance for the issuance of $3.31 million in general obligation refunding bonds.

• Approved a resolution expressing support for the application for low income housing tax credits for a proposed residential development at 2604 Second Ave.