Downtown Roof Repair Costs Awarded by Redevelopment Authority Board

West Beech Street Property

West Beech Street Property

Five buildings in Lamar, at, 121 West Beech Street and 106-108-112 and 122 South Main Street, were represented before the Lamar Redevelopment Authority Board on June 5th, requesting assistance with roof repair costs.  The matter of leaking roofs and costly repairs for the downtown Lamar area has been long noted in the community.  Lamar Mayor, Roger Stagner, expressed a concern regarding the potential business developments for some of these buildings in the future, “We want to be sure that when we help finance these repairs, there will be an understanding that some type of investment will be made to turn them into a working business.”  City Administrator, John Sutherland, added, “Each of these will have a development agreement in the contract.  I understand that we don’t want to improve them only to have them sit on the market for a couple of years.”  The board, in general, felt that the repairs were still needed, if only to stem any future deterioration of the roof and the interior to the point that repair costs will only increase or turn away a prospective business.

Angie Cue, Community Development Manager for Lamar, addressed board members on behalf of each of the businesses, laying out the costs associated with the specific repairs. The executor for the owner of three locations, 106, 108 and 112 South Main Street, formerly known as Bettiann’s applied for assistance to the Authority.  Cue noted that 37 years have lapsed before it was purchased by Ruthie Esgar in 2016.  Cue said the new owners are committed to renovating the properties, but the cost is quite high.  The board has a policy of an 80/20 division of shared costs with the owner contributing the bulk of the costs.  She stated there are plans to re-open the store this fall, using a different name and a store manager who will be employed by the family which will retain ownership at this time.

Past independent economic studies have indicated that the problem with downtown development has been contributed to a lack of upkeep and maintenance by previous owners which has helped lower property values, while at the same time, raising the cost of repairs the more the condition of the properties deteriorated. Cue said the new owners have received four cost estimates for repairs and will use the quote of $97,267 from Turner Roofing.  The project includes constructing a parapet wall to keep the new roof separate from the former Main Café.  The board awarded $19,453 towards roof repair/replacement contingent the project is completed by December 31, 2017.

Al’s Boot Repair and Vendors Gallery purchased the location at 122 South Main Street in Lamar in 2016 , a corner property bordering both Main and West Olive Streets. This roof is also showing signs of neglect and needed repair.  Two estimates were received by the owner who has selected the quote from Ark Valley Construction, estimated at $67,750.  The adjoining property at 120 South Main Street is also owned by the same individual who has interest from businesses to lease space, but the condition of the roof has hindered plans to proceed.  The property value has decreased to $39,035 for tax year 2017 with taxes paid out last year at $1,779.  The Authority Board decided to award $13,550 towards repairs with the same deadline provision for completing the project by the end of this year.

The final property under consideration during the Monday meeting is located at 121 West Beech Street in Lamar where Flatland Rentals leases commercial space to Lifeseed Church and Mike Rankin, CPA. The roof shows similar levels of neglect over the years.  The building was purchased in 2014.  Due to recent rains, the owner began the roof replacement project this past May to mitigate further interior damage.  The two phase project calls for the church building to be repaired at a cost $26,823 and repairs for the CPA business at $11,807.  The owner is seeking financial assistance for the first phase as funding is not in place at this time for the second half of the project.  The Authority awarded $7,726, contingent on both phases being completed by December 31, 2017.

The awards totaled $40,729 against the current RDA budget of about $110,000.
By Russ Baldwin

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