The City of Laurie has purchased a new building for City Hall. In closed session Wednesday evening, the board of aldermen finalized a real estate contract to purchase the Re/Max office building on Main St. (Hwy. 5) from the Bank of Versailles.
City Hall will be moving to the lower level of the office building, and the city will continue to rent out the top level where the Re/Max offices are currently located. The partially finished lower level is vacant at this time.
The total cost of the building for the city was $550,000. The city is paying $350,000 cash out of reserves and signing over the current city hall building to the bank.
A bank appraisal of the Re/Max building in the last year estimated a value of approximately $1.6 million, according to Mayor Herb Keck.
The property does not include highway frontage. The front part of the site along Main St. has been sold to a developer.
Keck said the bank made a generous offer that was too attractive to ignore.
"They say timing is everything, and I know this is not the best of times for us, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up," he said. "The city has a need for more space, and this building could serve the city for the next 20 years or more."
With rent from the upper level, Keck said the city will be able to pay back the sewer reserve fund in approximately 10 years.
With a 0.25 percent interest rate on their CDs (certificate of deposit), city officials also consider the purchase a good investment.
A higher interest rate to borrow money was also why they decided to pay cash instead of taking out a loan.
The building is more than 16,000 square feet total with each level providing more than 8,000 square feet of space.
"We're fully occupied where we are. An option was to build new, but we couldn't build it for what we were able to buy this building for," Keck said.
There are 180 days to closure so the city will be moving in sometime during that time frame.
The city is still working on plans for the interior of the lower level, and did not yet have an estimate on the construction costs to finish and model it into City Hall.
City officials plan to meet with an architect next week to continue working on details.
There are currently two main areas in the lower level. On one side will be the municipal court room that will also serve as meeting space and community room. There is also a fully equipped kitchen at the back of this area and bathrooms. The police department will be located on the other side as well as offices.
Page 2 of 2 - In addition to a bigger meeting space for board meetings which are sometimes crowded, the new space will also allow the city to host training for police and public works departments at a more minimal cost, said Public Works Director Ed Young.
The lower level will also feature a secured entrance - located on the backside of the building. There is a small parking lot behind the building as well.
The city was originally approached about buying the building by the bank last fall.
Bank of Versailles President & CEO Dave Baumgartner said they made the offer because they felt it was in the best interest of the city and general area.
"We're very interested in seeing Laurie succeed and think this is good for the community," he said. "We look forward to working with the city in the future as Laurie expands."