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July 15, 2013

Keeping an eye on Sixth St.

Building commissioner concerned about likely taxpayer burden

(Continued)

One concern Drinkwine said he has is the marketability of the property at 208 with the financial state it's in. On top of the $51,000 lien it has on it, it also has a tax debt of about $54,000.

"Can that building be marketed for [$55,000] to $67,000?" Drinkwine asked the board, referring to the price range of the options that pertain to preserving 208. "I don't believe it can."

Drinkwine also questioned the justification of using tax dollars to remedy the situation.

"On market sense and spending taxpayers' money, we can't get the money back on any scenario that we do," he said.

Drinkwine went on to say if the option that involves demolishing 208 and stabilizing 210 is pursued, then possibly a contract could be worked out with Cooke, who is currently trying to sell the property, for the city's investment to be reimbursed if and when the property sells.

Drinkwine also said the city could approach each property owner under the unsafe building ordinance, which they are all in violation of, to attain remediation. However, knowing it is unlikely the owners of 208 will cooperate, Drinkwine questioned whether that would be fair to the other owners.

The possibility of going through the owners' and the city's insurance providers to help with costs was also discussed at the meeting.

Drinkwine said while he hasn't spoken with the owners' insurance providers, it is his understanding that insurance companies will not file a claim until something happens to the buildings, acting in a "reactive, not proactive" manner.

Gary Hayden, owner of B&G Construction Co., who is currently preparing an estimate for improvements to the property at 210, said he has contacted Cooke's insurance provider and was given a similar response.

Citing the complexity of the matter, the board ultimately decided to take the issue under advisement so options can continue to be explored until the best decision can be made.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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