The city of John Day is taking an active role in renovating a downtown building.
The John Day City Council on Oct. 24 approved a purchase agreement for the Weaver Building near the northwest corner of the intersection of Main Street and Canyon Boulevard. The city will close on the property Nov. 1, City Manager Nick Green said.
The city will use a $100,000 Main Street Revitalization Grant to purchase the 120-year-old, 12,000-square-foot complex and then line up a $200,000 loan to complete Phase 1 renovation work.
That should be enough money to handle interior demolition of the top floor, removal of hazardous materials, required structural reinforcement and constructing a fire separation between the first and second floors, Green told the Eagle. He said the city was looking at three potential lending sources.
Repayment of the loan would come from the rent from four businesses using the ground floor over 10 years. The building at 131 W. Main St. currently houses four business, Naturally Yours, Etc., Karen Barntish LTC and H & R Block, and six apartments upstairs, only one of which is occupied. The residential tenant on the second floor will have to move out during the renovation, Green told the council.
Green said he hoped to have Phase 1 completed in this fiscal year. He told the council an Idaho company submitted a $165,000 bid for the Phase 1 work, but he wanted to see two more bids and should have a better idea on Phase 1 costs by mid-November. The building will be re-assessed for tax purposes before the 2018-2019 tax season, he said.
Green supported the city’s role in revitalizing the downtown area amidst criticism of public ownership of the Weaver Building.
“The public sees costs – not investments,” he said.
He noted that the private sector had not invested in renovating downtown buildings. If this project was successful, the state might be willing to provide the city with more grants to revitalize John Day’s downtown, he said – and perhaps the private sector would be more interested in taking on these kinds of projects.
There was no public comment during three hearings dealing with real property and budget amendments.
The council unanimously approved a lot line adjustment and sales agreement for six acres of the former Oregon Pine property to I.T. Logging. The city will sell the property for $58,800 to create a buffer for its new wastewater treatment plant.
“This is an old action,” Green said. “It took some time to get to it.”
The council also unanimously approved a lot line adjustment and quit claim deed with Hugh Thompson for a steep irregularly shaped narrow piece of property near Southeast Elm Street and Hillcrest Road.
The city has no use for the land other than for a utility access corridor, Green said. A utility easement agreement will maintain access to a 10-inch city water main along the property.
The council also unanimously approved a supplemental budget resolution that accounts for expenses and revenue related to this summer’s eclipse and the city’s acquisition of the Weaver Building.
Green said he hadn’t yet added up the costs for personnel, materials and services related to the eclipse event, but he estimated them at less than $19,000. They would be compensated by $19,000 in additional revenue from eclipse reservations and merchandise sales.
Monte Legg, the city’s public works director, reported on environmental assessment work at the former Oregon Pine mill site, especially the shop. The overall development project is called the Innovation Gateway.
The city already completed a Phase 1 assessment with Mark Yinger and Associates, Green told the Eagle, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality provided the city with a $9,000 grant for a Phase 2 assessment, including soil testing and sampling of areas of potential concern.
Legg told the council that instead of hiring a company to bore through the concrete in an oil-change pit in the former shop, his crew was able to bust through the concrete with their own tools to sample the soil underneath.
“We are waiting for results,” Green told the Eagle.
Matt Manitsas, the city’s agribusiness project manager, presented a slide show on a trip he, Green and senior project manager Aaron Lieuallen made to the University of Arizona to attend a Controlled Environment Agriculture course.
“It was a semester course distilled into four 12-hour days,” Green told the Eagle.
In addition to making contacts and networking, the three learned about greenhouse designs and key concepts for successful operation of a commercial greenhouse. Some people travel to Tuscon, Arizona, and pay $1,200 for the course just to learn the special “fertilizer recipe,” Green told the council.
Green said he expects to announce four bidders in December for construction of the city’s greenhouse at the Innovation Gateway site. Sustainable Water, the Atlanta-based consultant for the city’s new sewer treatment plant, which will supply treated water to the city’s commercial greenhouse, will be in John Day Nov. 13-17.
The John Day City Council will meet only once in November and December – on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12.