The city of John Day is moving forward with the purchase of the Weaver Complex.
The city council voted to approve the $100,000 purchase using a Main Street Revitalization Grant of the same amount during a Tuesday, Aug. 8 council meeting. The building is located at 131 W. Main St. on the northwest corner of the intersection with Canyon Boulevard.
The city will make an offer to the building’s owner and, if approved, pay the roughly $6,000 in closing costs.
Local residents and business owners gave passionate testimony during the meeting to help convince the council investing in the building was the right choice.
House to Home owner Kattie Piazza said John Day is a gem and worth preserving.
“This is so much bigger than buying a building,” she said.
Resident Nick Piazza said investment in the downtown area is necessary if the city is going to survive.
“The world keeps turning, you’ve got to turn with it,” he said.
City council member Lisa Weigum echoed their sentiments on investment.
“It’s our responsibility to invest in our community,” she said.
To move forward with renovations, the city will have to bring the building up to code and make it fire-safe. From there, the city can choose to develop the space, or sell it to the private sector.
Also on the table is demolishing the structure to create a parking lot. John Day City Manager Nick Green said turning the building into a parking lot was unlikely at this point, but still a fall-back option.
Making the building fire-safe and bringing it up to code would cost approximately $130,000, and an additional $34,000 if asbestos was found in the building, according to Peter Baer of Pinnacle Architecture.
This would be paid for by an up-to-$200,000 loan, which would be repaid with rental income from the businesses who rent space on the first floor over a period of 10 years. This option would give the city a 10-year period to identify a funding strategy and raise capital to renovate the top floor.
The building currently houses four businesses, Naturally Yours, etc., Karen Barntish LTC and H & R Block.
After a walk-through, Baer said the 12,000-square-foot building was in fact three to four buildings with a facade placed over them. While the building has voids in the walls, which create fire danger, and will require electrical work, Baer said “it has character.” He said the building had good floors and a solid roof he expected would last another 30 to 40 years.
Baer estimated it would cost roughly $250 per square foot to create new apartments in the top floor for a total project cost of $1.9 million, which includes the cost of the demolition.
Green said these estimates were on the higher end and had faith the number could be reduced. He said, while the project was challenging, he still saw it as a good investment and said employing local contractors and using local materials where possible would be a focus.