Group Questions City's Purchase of Palmetto Compress Building

7:33 PM, Apr 8, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Columbia City Council will discuss the contract about buying the Palmetto Compress building at a meeting Tuesday night.

Last month, the council agreed to a contract to purchase the building. While the appraisal on how much the building is worth hasn't been released, a group of community members say no matter what the price, purchasing the building is a bad idea.

"The city's proposals include no plan, no proposal, just pie in the sky questions from people who think they might like to do something with the building," said Rusty DePass, a local realtor.

The city's purchase ended months of debate over the property, which at one time included an offer for a private development.

"The city turned down a proposal for a  $40 million plus student facility close to the university, where it should be," DePass said.

The building would have been torn down under that proposal, but Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said the building is worth saving, and wants to shepherd a plan for reuse.

"The current owners had a viable private sector option on the table, in the $5 million range, which the city which the city blew out of the water and has proceeded to turn the deal into what looks like a three ring circus," said Dick Stanlin, a local realtor.

The mayor said the city will pay $5.6 million for the property. 

Columbia City Manger Theresa Wilson said an appraisal has been completed, but is protected because it's part of the contractual negotiations with the building owners.

News19 asked Joseph Rosen, a commercial property appraiser, about what the property could potentially be worth.

"Land sales in that area are 20 to 30 dollars a square foot and you know it's just a mathematical calculation to figure out what the land is worth," Rosen said.

Tax documents online suggest the property may be worth less than a million dollars, but Rosen said tax assesor values posted online may not reflect an accurate marketplace figure.

"An appraiser evaluates the property by the use of sales and a detailed inspection," Rosen said. "They inspect the inside and the outside. They need to look at the highest and best use of this building.  It's certainly not as a warehouse it's for a development reuse."

News19 will let you know what is decided by city leaders Tuesday night.



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