Prior to the vote, Alderman Bill Carrell was appointed as mayor pro-tem for the meeting. Mayor Billy McDaniel and city attorney Rick Abell were absent as they were in Washington, D.C. on Illinois Municipal Electric Agency business. Alderman David Daughtery was also absent from the meeting.
In August 2011, the city sold the 40,000-square-foot spec building and acreage to SIL Health and Fitness LLC for an indoor fitness/recreation center. Within the next eight months, the future of the site was uncertain as similar ventures were going bankrupt. The owner, Eric Small of Paducah, was given the opportunity by the city to develop the structure into a manufacturing facility. The multiple-year time frame in obtaining that equipment created another bump in the road.
Over the last few months, Small made city officials aware he would be willing to sell the property back to the city at a discount if the city had a need for it.
Via e-mail, Abell explained that over the last two years, the city has been approached several times — 10 to 15 in the past year alone — by individuals and companies who have expressed an interest in leasing or acquiring a facility about the size of the spec building.
However, “without having control of that building, it has been virtually impossible for the city to make an offer or proposal to an interested party,” Abell said. “While we have offered in each instance to put the prospective business in touch with the owner, they all prefer to deal with the city because most companies that are looking to relocate or expand to any area are looking for a package of incentives. It’s virtually impossible to create such a package with the building and land as a centerpiece unless the city owns or controls the property.”
With that in mind, the city council directed city officials to negotiate the repurchase of the property from Small. Those negotiations have taken four months.
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