“I think this is the closest we have ever been,” said City Manager Patrick Draper. “I’m glad to see this could happen.”
And it could happen soon.
On Monday, the Pell City Council gave the nod to Draper to sign a “letter of intent,” to purchase the CenturyLink building. City officials said the 53,000 square-foot facility could house the Pell City Board of Education, a new library and other city offices.
Draper said City Attorney John Rea is making changes to the letter of intent.
“I hope to have it done (signed) this week,” Draper said.
He said the non-binding letter of intent will basically get the process of buying the CenturyLink building moving forward.
Draper said once the letter of intent is delivered, CenturyLink will have 20 days to produce an actual sales contract to the city.
Draper said when the sales contract is delivered, he will present it to the council for consideration.
The council is also considering a partnership with the school system to purchase the facility. The BOE would occupy about 25 percent of the facility, and pay about 25-percent of the total cost for the facility.
“The city attorney is drafting a partnership agreement between the city and the board,” Draper said. “Without the partnership, the city would have to come up with another half-million dollars. A half-million is a lot of money for us.”
Jay Jenkins said at Monday’s council meeting that the school board could pay for their space by paying the same monthly lease payments it is currently making.
He said the school board could pay off its share of the building within 14 years.
Jenkins said he wants to make it clear that the building is city property, and the BOE only has control of its space.
Draper said the BOE would also share with the maintenance and utility costs of the building.
He said the school board would occupy about 25 percent of the building, on the second floor of the facility.
“I don’t have a problem with the partnership,” Jenkins said.
Superintendent Michael Barber told the mayor and council last week that the Board of Education would like to partner with the city to buy the CenturyLink building.
Board of Education central offices are currently housed on the second floor of the facility.
For more than a decade local residents have expressed a desire for a new library. Library supporters said the city has outgrown the current library, and there is a great need for a new, bigger library.
In 2011, owners of the CenturyLink building were asking $2 million for the property, and at that time, former Mayor Bill Hereford told the council the property was appraised for $4.5 million.
The former city council considered buying the CenturyLink building but decided that the city could not afford the purchase at the time.
In 2011, city officials said some work was also needed to the facility, including a new roof and two roof heating and air units.
There were also questions about whether the main floor of the building could adequately support the weight of books without floor support modifications.
The current city council is moving forward to refinance some old debt and to secure an additional $3.5 million for city projects, which could include funds for a new library and swimming pool.
The CenturyLink building was constructed in 1989.
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com