As of Tuesday, September 11, 2018
DALLAS — The city of Dallas approved the sale of the Carnegie Building to Monmouth Holding Company on Sept. 4 following a public hearing.
Monmouth Holding Company, owned by Bodie Bemrose, will pay the city $50,000 for the building and a security fee of $1,000 for the vacant lot to the south. The vacant lot is valued at $63,000.
The sales agreement puts a time restriction on when the restoration can begin. It stipulates that remodeling must start within two years of the sale closing and be complete within five years of the closing date.
AJ Foscoli, Dallas’ economic development director, said the sale was a longtime coming.
“This has been a process that has been going on for a couple of years now as far as the city’s willingness to redevelop the Carnegie Building,” Foscoli said. “Though we had one option, folks who were interested in purchasing, that took a couple of years and it ended up that we couldn’t come to an agreement.”
He said Bemrose “has a very strong, robust track record in taking properties that have historic value and bringing them back to their former glory.”
One person commented on the sale during the Sept. 4 public meeting, Joe Koubek. He pointed out the agenda packet was missing pages of the sales agreement.
City Attorney Lane Shetterly said the council had seen the entire sales agreement previously.
Mayor Brian Dalton briefly recessed the public hearing so the entire agreement could be provided to the council and audience members who wanted it.
Koubek objected to the wording in the agreement to describe the vacant lot as “not needed for public use.” He said the city has been aware of proposals for creating a “pocket park” on the property.
He said the property is “the location of the first Dallas City Hall and fire station, and would be the only park in the downtown core. I object to this wording because it is incorrect and untrue.”
Koubek said he hoped plans for a pocket park could still be pursued after the sale closing.
“I would hope that the potential buyers of the properties would work in collaboration with people interested in the creation of a pocket park understanding the importance of this piece of local history and the need for green space,” he said.
Bemrose did not speak at the public hearing, but in a letter to Ellis outlined his plans for the building, which was constructed in 1910. He said he will restore historic details inside and outside of the building. That may include replacing the existing main entrance stairs with a historically accurate design.
Repairs needed to the foundation, interior beams and roof would be completed first, Bemrose said.
“We treasure these historic buildings, and it has been our passion for over 20 years now,” Bemrose said. “We are excited to help bring back life to the Carnegie Building.”
While not at the public hearing, Warren Gookin, who lives just outside of Dallas and was interested in purchasing the building, objected to the sale process.
Gookin said he inquired about the building during the first round of negotiations that ended in no sale. He was told a contract was in process, and only learned of it falling through on Sept. 4, the day of the hearing.
City Manager Greg Ellis said the city issued a request for proposal (RFP) for the building in 2016, but decided not to issue a second one after the first deal fell through. The city already had an interested buyer, he said.
“I’m not too thrilled about it,” Gookin said. “I don’t think that is right.”
Ellis said the process was deemed appropriate by Shetterly.
“According to the city attorney, with a market analysis and eventually a public hearing, the city could sell the Carnegie Building to the interested buyer without advertising another RFP,” Ellis said. “The public hearing was at the Sept. 4 council meeting and the property was sold to Mr. Bemrose.”