What do you think about the City’s proposal to sell the West End Building (WEB)? This coming Tuesday, September 24, the City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed sale of the property to Kensington Investment Group for $16.5 million.
At the September 24 meeting, the Council held the public hearing and considered the proposed sale. The Council plans to continue the discussion and take action on the proposed Purchase and Sale Agreement at the October 8 meeting.
The West End Building property, formerly owned by Safeco Insurance, was acquired by the City in 2006 for $20 million for the purpose of building a community center. While a plan was developed for a community center, it never did receive broad public support, and is no longer being considered a viable option for the property. The City Council has also considered a new City Hall, a Police/911 facility, and a new main or branch library as possible public uses for the property. However, no decisions have been made about permanent public uses for the property.
The property was originally purchased with a $20 million line of credit. In 2008, voters turned down a bond measure that would have provided permanent financing for the purchase. The City is currently paying down a bank loan for the property. The balance on the loan as of October 1 will be $17.6 million. On average, the City spends approximately $1.5 million a year on loan payments and maintenance and operations of the property.
The City Council adopted as part of its 2013 Action Plan, the goal of making a decision on the future of the West End property. The proposed sale of the property is being considered by the City Council because the benefit from returning the property to private use, reducing the burden on the City's General Fund, and restoring tax revenue from the premises is believed to outweigh the benefit of retaining the property for current and future public uses.
The proposed selling price to the Kensington Investment Group is $16.5 million. The sale is contingent on the City approving a zone change for the property from Office Campus/R-3 to General Commercial. In July, the City Council directed staff to initiate this rezoning process, which is currently underway.
The buyer has not indicated specific plans for the use of the property. Any use or potential redevelopment of the property would be subject to the city's development review process, with opportunity for public involvement.
For more information, please view the staff report and attachments in the September 24, 2013 Council Agenda Packet (item 8.1) http://www.ci.oswego.or.us/citycouncil/city-council-62.
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