Chanute city commissioners approved an agreement Monday evening that eventually will sell a vacant industrial building on Cherry Street to Orizon Aerostructures.
Orizon will take over the building at 615 W. Cherry for purchase, interest-free with a balloon payment of $225,000 after five years or possibly sooner. The company had proposed a lease at no cost with an option to buy at that price after five years.
The company will pay utilities and make improvements to the building. At Monday’s meeting, Orizon Chief Executive Officer Charlie Newell estimated that the building may need $100,000 to $150,000 in improvements, and he said he would not want to walk away from that investment.
Mayor Sam Budreau said he was not in favor of a lease. Newell said he expects to have 25 people employed at the Cherry Street building.
In conjunction with the purchase agreement, Orizon also plans to purchase a new scoreboard for the Katy Park ballfield, which will be the planned site of a MINK League baseball team. The scoreboard would cost $14,000, and Orizon plans to put an additional $14,000 into restroom improvements.
“I’m just amazed with the history,” Newell said about the park, and asked if the agreement would include season tickets.
Commissioner Jacob LaRue asked if Orizon would consider taking over the Cherry Street building in lieu of its payment from the city as job creation incentive. Newell declined.
In other discussion, Main Street Chanute Director Ruthann Boatwright said a Department of Commerce/Main Street Kansas official has expressed interest in assisting with a blighted downtown building.
Commissioners continued discussion about the 1899 Masonic Temple building at 112-120 W. Main. The commission voted at its last meeting to condemn the structure, and the city has received a base bid of $218,000 to demolish it. The bid does not include engineering and work to make exposed walls watertight and load-bearing on buildings to the east and west.
City Manager Jeff Cantrell said the city has not had communication with the owners, Richard and Carolyn Lisman, and Budreau said removing the building could cost as much as $1 million or more.
“It just climbs,” he said.
Boatwright said newly-appointed Kansas Main Street director Scott Sewell visited Chanute recently and the 1899 building was part of the discussion. She said Sewell planned to make it a priority and has offered to try to arrange an engineer to look at the structure at no cost to Chanute.
Commissioner Phil Chaney said he would like to know the status of the interior structure.
“The landowner to the east would like to know,” he said.
Chaney owns that building where H&R Block offices are located. City officials are trying to determine what agreements there are about walls between the H&R Block building and the buildings to the west of Lisman’s.
“We’ve done this wall thing before,” Commissioner Tim Fairchild said.
Attorney David Brake said he has found an agreement between the H&R Block building and Jeff’s Foodliner, which was at the corner of Main and Grant, and has already been demolished.
Cantrell said landowners on the west are interested in the city taking action, although not necessarily to demolish. Cantrell said if the 1899 building were dropping bricks, he would have had it demolished. But he said he was concerned about the size of the base bid.
“If this was a $60,000 bid, we would have just done it,” he said.
Fairchild asked if the building could be repurposed, possibly as a one-story building. Brake said the Foodliner building was too big to be repurposed.
Commissioners discussed the possibility of the city taking over title. Brake said if a property owner is not cooperative, it limits what the city can do.
“We’re going to spend the money one way or the other,” Chaney said.
“It’s not if, it’s when it’s coming down,” Commissioner Eddie Rosenberger said.
Commissioners also held a hearing and adopted the end-of-year budget amendments. Nobody spoke at the public hearing.
Commissioners appointed Denise Hastings and Garrett Sharp to the Chanute Regional Development Authority Board of Directors to replace Darin Luebbering and Cora Finley. They also approved 2020 licenses to sell cereal malt beverages for C&H Lanes, Casey’s, G&W Foods, Love’s Travel Stop, Pete’s at 701 N. Santa Fe and 2110 S. Santa Fe, Rod’s Bar, the Red Pepper and Walmart.
Commissioners voted to find a building at 402 E. Main, owned by Midwest Fertilizer, in violation of city code. A property at 1127 S. Central was removed after it was abated.
The commission will hold its final meeting of the year at noon Dec. 23.