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Council begins process to sell Lafayette property

Council begins process to sell Lafayette property

November 21st, 2017 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

The Jefferson City Council approved starting the process to sell a property on Lafayette Street, along with a request the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Commission discuss selling four properties the city's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department own.

On a 9-1 vote, the council approved gave city staff the go-ahead to try to sell 408 Lafayette St. within 60 days. Ward 4 Councilman Ron Fitzwater voted against the motion, made by Ward 5 Councilman Larry Henry.

The Lafayette Street property was supposed to be demolished before the council implemented a three-month demolition moratorium in March. The council granted a 90-day extension in June and a 60-day extension in September, with the demolition moratorium ending Nov. 17.

Jefferson City Neighborhood Services Manager Jayme Abbott said the appraised value for the property was $54,000 in 2009.

The city invested more $78,000 of federal funds from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to rehabilitate the property after it purchased the structure.

The property was not in a floodplain at the time of purchase, but after FEMA redrew the floodplain lines in 2012, the property was put in the 100-year floodplain. The city can't use federal funds on properties in a floodplain, according to Sonny Sanders, director of the Department of Planning and Protective Services.

HUD and the state said they would shut down the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and entities had to remove federal ties from any projects or risk paying back those funds. The city planned to demolish 408 Lafayette St. to close out the project and remove those federal ties.

Abbott said the city could sell the property and use the sale proceeds to pay back the $78,000, but the new property owner would still have to comply with FEMA's substantial improvement rule — property owners can't make improvements more than 50 percent of the structure's value. She added city inspectors declared the Lafayette property dangerous and repairs would require more than 50 percent of the building's value.

Abbott anticipates receiving final instructions on terminating Neighborhood Stabilization Program projects this month.

Ward 3 Councilman Ken Hussey vocied concern the city would sell 408 Lafayette St. and the new private owner would still try to proceed with demolition. Even though the structure is more than 50 years old, city staff has not presented the proposed three-tiered demolition ordinance to City Council, so the property runs the risk of not being as protected by the proposed ordinance.

"There's the risk that's taken that some of these decisions are sort of on different tracks — they don't all sync up," Hussey said. "I just want to be clear that we could have a senario where we're happy the property has been sold — the city no longer owns it. However, that private individual could desire to demolish it and do something different with that site."

When the council asked if it could place a restriction on the property, City Counselor Ryan Moehlman said he would not recommend it.

While city staff works to sell 408 Lafayette St., Ward 1 Councilman Rick Prather made a motion the Parks and Recreation Commission discuss selling 410 Lafayette St., 602 and 606 E. McCarty St. and 623 School St.. The motion passed 9-1, with Fitzwater voting against.

In order to sell Parks properties, Moehlman said both the parks commission and City Council have to agree to sell.

One issue is the donation of 606 E. McCarty St. to the Parks department include a promise to demolish it and turn the area into green space, Abbott said. When the commission discusses the properties, Moehlman said they will also discuss this agreement.

After the Parks commission discusses selling the properties, it will send its recommendation back to the City Council.

Fitzwater voted against both motions and said there were several unknowns involved with selling the five properties. He suggested the council waited to vote to sell the properties until a later meeting.

Historic district effort

As the city waits to see if it can sell those five properties, residents in the East McCarty and School streets area are working to make the neighborhood a local historic district. The application contains 27 houses, including buildings in the 600 block of East McCarty Street, all of School Street, 400 block of Lafayette Street, three houses on the east side of Lafayette Street and 500 Lafayette St.

By making the area a local historic district, residents believe they can protect the area from demolition and encourage revitalization.

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Residents, city staff discuss historic designation

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In 2006, the city adopted the Central East Side Neighborhood Plan, which suggests the area borded by East McCarty, Lafayette, East Miller and Marshall streets become a green space since it runs along Wears Creek and is in the 100-year floodplain.

Part of the local historic district application requires 75 percent of notorized signatures from property owners in the possible historic district. Local historian Jane Beetem said she has about half notorized signatures but is trying to contact property owners of rental properties in the area.

Beetem added the design guidelines provided in the local historic district would help maintain the historic character of the buildings.

Originally, Beetem requested the city extend the demolition moratorium by 60 days to give her more time to collect signatures. However, the council did not extend the demolition moratorium because City Administrator Steve Crowell said he would not allow demolition to proceed on the five properties owned by the city and Parks department if the council wishes to sell them.

During a residents' meeting earlier this month, several residents in the area said they wanted the city to sell the five proeprties so they could be rehabilitated.

Beetem said as the city ponders selling the five properties, she will continue to work toward the local historic district.

"I think we've come this far and have developed so much of the application that we would like to go forth and pursue some type of designation," she said. "We would hope new buyers would come forth and purchase these homes and put them back in shape. I think the designation is important because it could get some of the restrictions lifted because those prevent people from investing in those homes right now and that's one of the reasons we started this whole process was to get those restrictions removed."

Beetem said if the homes are in a local historic district, FEMA will loosen its floodplain regulations on homes in the floodplains, such as lifting its substantial improvement rule.

In other council action:

The council voted to amend a final Planned Unit Development to allow a new boarding school at 1310 Edgewood Drive. The PUD plan original stated the property could only operate as a child daycare facility.

Capital Region Medical Center owns the property but St. Nicholas Academy will lease the building and turn it into a housing facility for underprivileged and under-resourced children. While the facility will be primarily for housing, the children will attend surrounding schools.

The council also approved purchasing five police vehicles for $146,180 from Joe Machens Capital City Ford.

On Monday, the council approved the permissive use of the right-of-way adjacent to 126 W. Dunklin St. so the Old Munichburg Association can build a bell tower. The bell tower would be 3 feet around and stand about 15 feet tall, including the metal structure that will hold the bell.

According to the request, the tower would be a replica of the fire bell tower that used to stand there.

The council approved a $25,250 contract with American Pride Hauling on Monday to demolish 1204 E. High St. The River City Habitat for Humanity applied through the city's Community Development Block Grant Program for assistance to demolish the abandoned residence. Habitat for Humanity plans to construct a single-family residence for a low to moderate income household.

On Monday, the council approved contracts between the city and Cole County for improvements to East High Street and High School Road, from Mission Drive to Creek Trail.

Improvements to East High Street include repairing the curbs, sidewalk and stormwater system between Pine Street and Vetter Lane. City staff expects the project to cost around $1.7 million.

The High School Road project involves creating a street from the roundabout at Mission Drive to Creek Trail Drive, and city staff said the project can't exceed $1.5 million.

According to the contracts, the city and county would each pay 50 percent of both projects.

Also on Monday, the council heard a proposed bill that would provide Axium Plastics issuance of Chapter 100 Industrial Development Revenue Bonds.

The proposed bill said Axium Plastics would receive 75 percent personal property tax abatement for equipment purchases for seven years and 75 percent real property tax abatement on real estate occupied by the project for 15 years.

Ohio-based Axium Plastics plans build a factory in the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce's spec building at the corner of Shamrock and Algoa roads. Operations began last month.

The council will vote on the proposed bill Nov. 4.