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Citizen urges city not to sell former Plains Furniture building for $500,000

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Casper citizen Dennis Steensland says he thinks the city shouldn’t sell some of the former Plains Furniture properties for $500,000.

“I can’t imagine why we would even consider selling that for $500,000,” he told the city council on Tuesday, Sept. 3. “I don’t want to see it go through as a council vote for that little amount of money.”

“I do believe it is a dis-service to the public.”

The City of Casper paid $3 million in 2016 for the former Plains building and some surrounding properties. The council entered into an agreement with FLAG Development in July to work toward an agreement to sell some, but not all of the properties.

Steensland said he’d like to talk with city staff to understand more about the proposal.

“Those are all legitimate questions,” Casper Mayor Charlie Powell said after Steensland spoke.

Sept. 17 would be the final date for council to approve the sale of the properties.

The Casper City Council established closing sale date during their Tuesday, Aug. 20 meeting.

Councilman Ken Bates voted against setting this date for the possible sale.

Stipulations in the memorandum of understanding between the two parties allow FLAG to back out of the deal if certain conditions are not met.

But if they decide to purchase the property, FLAG is planning to call the site “The Nolan” and is proposing developing up to 11 market-rate loft townhouses, an open-air courtyard and 8,200 square feet office space.

Their proposal also includes plans for seven three-story market-rate rowhouses in the south parking lot area. The Livery Stable would be demolished and converted into a private parking lot.

The MOU between FLAG and the City of Casper outlines rights and obligations of both parties leading up to a purchase agreement.

FLAG initially proposed purchasing the properties for $1 million.

However, discussions with the city led to some changes. Under the current proposal, FLAG would purchase the properties for $500,000.

The MOU outlines conditions that need to be met in order for the sale to move forward.

First, the City will be required to provide water and sewer services to the site. FLAG will need to inform the City before Sept. 15 of the required size of water and sewer services. The City will have until March 1, 2020 to install these services. FLAG will be responsible for “System Investment Charges” related to the connection fees.

Landfill fees associated with demolitions will be waived, with the exception of any potential hazardous material.

FLAG had until Sept. 1 to submit any replats needed to allow the development to begin and the City would have until Nov. 1 to approve this replat.

A 48-stall parking lot north of the former KaLark’s will not be part of the sale, but FLAG would have a right of first refusal to purchase the parking lot for $250,000 for a period of five years should the City decide to bid out that property.

Once the MOU was signed in July, FLAG was given 75 days for “Phase I and/or Phase II environmental studies or other inspections of the properties.”

The MOU outlines that FLAG will also attempt to get the historic motor pool and garage on the National Register of Historic Places. That would allow them to take advantage of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentive Program.

FLAG has until Sept. 13 for the environmental studies and historic registration to be completed.

They would have that date to enact their right to void the agreement should the property not be accepted to the historic register.

The MOU says that FLAG has budgeted $230,000 for removal of hazardous materials, structural modifications and demolitions. FLAG would agree to move forward with the purchase if bids received to conduct the efforts do not exceed $263,000.

But FLAG would have until Sept. 13 to void the agreement if these bids exceed $263,000.

The MOU also states that FLAG has created a separate holding company called “The Nolan, LLC.” which would be the purchasing company listed on the contract with the City, but both companies will be signatories and responsible for the terms of the agreement.

The full MOU is included in the council’s work packet.