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Burlington Might Buy Building for a Buck

Steve Frevert
Burlington has an opportunity to purchase 300 Washington Street for $1.

There's not much you can get for $1.00 these days: gas station coffee, wrapping paper, a couple of bananas. That is unless you are the Burlington City Council, which could get a four-story building for a buck.

Eric Tysland, Development and Parks Director, said the city had been working with the owner of 300 Washington Street to get the property rehabilitated and developed for commercial use, but the owner did not have any plans to accomplish that.

  "So a couple months ago, we [designated] it as abandoned/unsafe, setting in motion more of a firm time frame to get something done or move on from the project. [The owner] offered the building to the city for $1 in exchange for us not going through the process of trying to acquire it through the court system or forcing demolition or nuisance abatements on the property," said Tysland.

The building has been vacant for years after previously housing a typewriter shop and the local Elks Lodge.

Tysland said there are problems with the roof on the building as well as other issues related to a lack of upkeep and no occupancy. The city council is now considering the offer to purchase the building.

Tysland said there has been interest from developers so the city could acquire it and then sell it. Another option is to give the building to Downtown Partners, Inc., which is a Main Street Iowa-affiliated program that works to restore and preserve historic buildings.

DPI Director Steve Frevert said his organization has not specifically discussed the building, but he sees it as an asset that needs to be saved.

"The building is on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing building in the Downtown Commercial Historic District. With river views, parking across the street, and close proximity to restaurants, retail, and entertainment, it is a prime candidate for redevelopment. If a willing developer approaches the City, Downtown Partners will do what it can to assist with the project. If not, we will explore what options might be available to Downtown Partners to facilitate its reuse," said Frevert.

The Burlington City Council wants to give DPI time to consider its options so it will likely wait until its December 21 meeting to vote on whether to buy the building.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.