Council to consider purchase of CenturyLink building
by David Atchison
Nov 05, 2013 | 895 views |  0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PELL CITY – It was almost two years ago when former Mayor Bill Hereford asked the council to consider a sales contract to purchase the CenturyLink building, and today the council will again revisit that question.

City officials announced Monday morning that a special called meeting is slated for 10 a.m. today at City Hall for the council to consider a proposed sales contract for the purchase of the CenturyLink building at the intersection of U.S. 231 and Bruce Etheridge Parkway.

In September the Council approved a non-binding letter of intent to move forward with the purchase of the CenturyLink building, which would house the city’s public library. Everything looked as though it was a go, with Pell City Board of Education officials telling the council it was willing to partner with the city to purchase of the estimated 53,000 square-feet facility, but city officials only offered a lease agreement, not ownership.

By the time the city officially voted to make the Board of Education a part-owner of the CenturyLink building, the School Board had already approved to move forward with the purchase of the former Department of Human Resources building on Dr. John Haynes Drive from the St. Clair County Commission.

City officials said shortly after the Commission approved the sale of the former DHR building to the Board of Education that the city could move forward with the purchase of the CenturyLink building with or without the School Board.

In accordance with the proposed sales contract offered to the council in September, CenturyLink would sell its building to the city for $1.29 million, and the city would sell the current library building to the company for $290,000, which would whittle the cost of the CenturyLink building down to $1 million.

City Manager Patrick Draper said funds from grants and the Pell City Library Guild could pay for renovations to the CenturyLink building.

He said the lock-and-key total price for the facility, including all renovations, is $1,872,290.

In accordance with the proposed contract, the city would provide a space in the CenturyLink basement for the telephone company’s equipment, currently housed there.

City officials said CenturyLink officials said to move the equipment out of the basement would cost more than the building itself.

The city would provide the company access to the 360 square-feet basement space and provide power, heating and air to the basement area. Although the company will pay for the electrical cost to run the equipment housed in the basement.

In accordance with the contract, the city would provide CenturyLink 25 parking spaces on existing or adjoining property to the current public library, next to city hall.

Draper said the Police Department could move into the CenturyLink building, which will allow for the additional parking spaces required by CenturyLink behind city hall and save the city another $200,000.

The city is also required to honor the Pell City Board of Education lease, which is valid until the end of March 2014, although city officials have said publicly the city would allow the Board of Education to remain in the facility as long as the School Board wanted.

The St. Clair County Commission approved to sale the former Department of Human Resources building off of Dr. John Haynes Drive to the Pell City Board of Education for $125,000, and the BOE central office will move into that facility.

The Board of Education could close on that property as early as this week, but much work is needed to the former DHR building, which was damaged by fire.

According to city officials, the CenturyLink building was constructed in 1989.

The council considered buying the facility in 2011, but decided the city could not afford to purchase the building at that time.

In 2011, former Mayor Hereford said the CenturyLink building was appraised for $4.5 million.

According to city documents, the biggest renovation costs to the CenturyLink building are new heating and air units, about $300,000 and the replacement of the roof, estimated at $160,000.

Draper said in September that the city plans to borrow $1.23 million through a bond issue to buy the facility and to help pay for renovations. The city has more than $400,000 in grant funds to go towards the renovation of the new library and another $250,000 that the Pell City Library Guild has earmarked for a new library.

The library would occupy space on the main level of the building, if the city council approves the sales contract today.