City council deeds vacant downtown lot to DDA to sell
Could be turned into a park
WEST BRANCH — The former home of The Frame Shop, a now-vacant lot between Downtown Books and Loggers, was deeded over to the West Branch Downtown Development Authority for $1 at the city’s Sept. 24 city council meeting.
The city voted 6-0 to deed the title of the lot over to the DDA, under the condition that if nothing was done with it in two years, it would be deeded back to the city.
“We would like to do something with that lot,” said DDA Chairman Tom Damoth. “First would be to sell it, because we would love to have another business downtown. If that doesn’t work, then we talked about a pocket park of some kind, again to enhance it and make it more attractive to the downtown. It’s a project that we’ve talked about. It’s been on our backburner. It comes and it goes. We would really like to make some sort of decision on that.”
City Manager Tom Youatt said the DDA has funds available to develop a park on the property should a business not be found to purchase it.
The former building was torn down in 2006 after being destroyed in a fire. The city legally has been able to sell the property since October 2011. Mayor Todd Thompson questioned why nothing has been done up to this point.
“It’s been a year that, legally, it could have been sold,” Thompson told the board. “And nobody has done anything to entice a buyer into that lot. What’s the hold up? What are we waiting for? What is the DDA waiting for? What is the city waiting for?”
Thompson originally asked why the property should be deeded to the DDA rather than the city selling the lot. Later, he said if the DDA was going to be responsible for selling it, they should hold the title.
“If we’re going to do it let’s do it right,” he said. “Deed the property over. We have nothing to do with it. It’s theirs. Because if we still own it, then we’re going to be in the middle of a sale between the DDA and a prospective buyer, and I don’t think that’s good either. Either we sell it, or they sell it. If they’re getting the funds once it’s sold, then put it in their name.”
Thompson said the city paid $36,700 for the lot originally, and paid a contractor $73,000 to tear the building down.
Councilman Chad Lucas, who made the motion to deed the title over to the DDA, said something needed to be done.
“It’s time that something gets done with it, one way or another,” he said.