Monday, November 30, 2020

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Council weighing options after surplus property sale falls through

After push-back from nearby businesses and property owners, Greenceuticals LLC’s cannabis cultivation project – originally planned for the site of the Stokes Building at 8th and Main streets – has effectively been put on hold. As a result, they are no longer looking to purchase the building from Fur, Fin & Feather owner Brent Nobles, and Nobles has canceled his offer to purchase a city-owned lot at the corner of Bridge and Main streets, where he had planned to move his business.

Now, the city council is looking at other options for offloading the vacant lots, and is entertaining offers for their sale. Rather than just selling the property outright to the highest bidder, however, the city will send out a request for proposals (RFP) and ask potential buyers to lay out how they intend to develop the property, if at all. Ultimately, both the price offered and the project proposed for the site will factor into the decision, said Ryan Jones, city attorney. 

“Anybody can bid on it,” Jones said. “I think for the council, my guess is that they’re really only going to be interested in people who make proposals that include some kind of project that includes some revenue streams and some benefits to the city in the long term.”

City Manager Jesse Cain said on Sunday that the city could place a deed restriction on the property to ensure that the winning project would actually be implemented.

The decision to send out a request for proposals was one of two options that city staff presented the council for selling the city’s surplus property on Bridge and Main Streets. The other option was to sell the property to Zazen LP – which, Cain explained, was essentially Greenceuticals by a different name –  for $160,000, without soliciting other offers. 

“Essentially, they had four or five partners (in Greenceuticals), a couple of them backed out, and (the rest) created a (limited partnership),” Cain said. 

Ultimately, the council decided it was best to send out the request for proposals (RFP). Mayor Greg Ponciano said that while he didn’t have an issue with the project proposed for the site by Zazen LP, based on what Greenceuticals intended to do with the other location, he felt that it would be best to give “everybody else an opportunity, with the understanding that its not a public auction, per se – not the highest bidder.”

Councilman Dave Markss, who removed himself from the discussion regarding Greenceuticals – citing a potential conflict of interest because their attorney, Matt Smith, had previously represented him – said that the conflict of interest had since been removed, and he wanted more details. 

“I don’t have all the details of what (the Greenceuticals) proposal included, which is why I’m leaning toward the RFP, so I can hear what’s out there, hear what people have to say, and see what the open market can bring,” Markss said. 

Ponciano noted for the record that the parcel on Bridge and Main streets was not part of the city’s Riverfront District.

“So, we can remove that narrative from that piece of property,” Ponciano added, before making a motion to move forward with an RFP. 

Councilman Josh Hill seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.■

Brian Pearson
Brian Pearson
Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.

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