Leader Blues

Monday, October 09, 2006

TOP STORY >>Cabot to relocate its city hall next door

IN SHORT: The city has officially taken over the old Community Bank building with long-term goal of actually owning the property.

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

The city of Cabot officially took over the old Community Bank building next to city hall this week with a lease agreement that is expected to end with the city owning the property.

Karen Davis, Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh’s director or operations, said Thursday that it’s unlikely anyone will move in this year except the special census workers who will need a secure area to set up shop. But the most frequent comment from city employees who have toured the building this week is “There’s so much space.”

The bank building will house the offices of the mayor, city clerk, city attorney and possibly public works, Davis said. Over the years, the police department has taken over space in the basement of city hall once used by the library and the courts, but it is still cramped. When the other city offices move out of city hall, the police department will take over the whole building, she said.

Originally built in 1949 as the Bank of Cabot and then expanded in 1977, the 22,065-square-foot bank building is about twice the size of city hall, which is officially called Willie Ray Community Center. And that raises the question: What will the newly acquired building be called?

The city already has the City Annex, the old Fred’s building, which houses the council chamber, court and the water department office. Willie Ray Community Center once housed the library and the Cabot Chamber of Commerce, but mostly it has been used by the police, mayor, city attorney and city clerk. Never has it been associated with recreation, as the name implies. And with the new community center that is part of the parks system expected to open Nov. 1, it could get confusing, Davis said.

Davis noted that the bank building has the perfect address for a city hall, 1 City Plaza.
The city is leasing the bank building for $3,500 a month with the option of buying it after five or 10 years.

The bank offered to sell the building to the city for $1.1 million. Since the city has opted to lease it instead, the lease money will go toward the purchase price. If the city leases for five years, the purchase price would be $890,000. After 10 years of leasing, the purchase price would be $678,000.

As part of the lease negotiations, the bank will continue to use about one-third of the building for up to 10 months while a new building is under construction on Main Street and will sublease the space at the old building from the city for $1,218 a month.

Dickson Flake, who negotiated the deal between the bank and the city, told the council that Tracy French, CEO of the bank, should receive the credit for the city getting the building under market value.