INDEPENDENCE — The Independence City Council in a split decision, approved the sale of lot 7 — a vacant lot in the Independence Landing development — to Young Development Group on Sept. 8.

“The Independence Landing Project is the former Valley Concrete site,” Pessemier said. “The city purchased that property quite a while ago, did a lot of things to get that property ready for development.”

The city divided the property into eight lots. Four of those were sold to Tokola Properties for the development of Independence Hotel and apartment and condo units.

Young Development owns lot 8, known as Osprey Point, the property behind Brew Coffee & Tap House, at the corner of Main and C streets.

The city received an offer on lot 7 from Aaron Young, of Young Development, after putting out a request for proposals toward the end of last year and again at the beginning of this year.

“We did our best to advertise that and specifically call realtors and such and at the end of the day we ended up only receiving one proposal and that was from Young Development Group,” Pessemier said.

They offered $180,000 for the 10,000-square-foot lot.

The proposal is to build a 4,500-square-foot building on that lot that would take up half of it, and the other half would be public parking, he said. The parking lot, once completed, would be given back to the city.

“The city would also reimburse them for undergrounding some power lines and other utilities that are out there,” Pessemier said. “So the city would end up rebating the same amount as the purchase price once those items were completed.”

The offer met the requirements for the RFP, Pessemier said.

“It does propose to construct a building for the Elks on lot 7,” he said. “It would be a much smaller facility than they have. They would move into that building and then sell that building to the same developer, is my understanding.”

Pessemier said he's heard questions related to what happens “if the developer doesn't perform.”

“There are two items that kind of protect us,” he said. “First off, we don't actually transfer the property until the land use has been finished and approved as well as construction drawings have been finished and approved and the developer proves they have the financial capacity in order to complete the project. So at the point in time, the property would transfer to the developer.”

The city has the option to purchase the property back if the developer is not following through, he said.

“Those are kind of the protections we have, similar to the agreement we did for Osprey Point and others,” he said.

Councilor Jennifer Ranstrom-Smith asked Pessemier how Young's proposal scored.

“I do not remember off the top of my head,” he said. “It was a relatively decent score.”

The score had a lot to do with whether they had the information that was requested in the request for proposal, such as pictures and their plan for development, he said.

“We got an initial proposal and it was kind of light, so we went back and asked for a second proposal,” Pessemier said. “The second proposal was pretty complete, so it scored reasonably well. Obviously there were some questions regarding the use of the property and certainly if we had things to compare it to, that would have impacted the score, one way or another. But we didn't have a second proposal so it was hard to make a comparison on those particular types of questions.”

Councilor Shannon Corr said she found the current proposal to be “light in detail.”

“There seems to be quite a few blanket statements, maybe templated language that just hasn't been expanded upon,” Corr said. “At least not to my satisfaction. We have one commercial developer in town. And I know you did your due diligence to get the notice out there to try to solicit as many proposals as possible and we only got the one, but I have some real concerns about that.”

Ranstrom-Smith asked for clarification on the number of days Young has to complete the project: 60 days for permits and 400 until certificate of occupancy.

“A lot of that time gets sucked up going through the land use process,” Pessemier said. “They still have to go through site plan review, and then prepare the construction drawings and get those approved. So that's definitely enough time to complete the project. I think we've been gracious there to make sure that it gets done, but at the same time, I think there is a desire on the developer's part and certainly on the Elk's part, to get this project done as quickly as possible.”

Councilor Marilyn Morton said she was pleased to see movement on the lot 8 development, “especially as we are talking about the same developer. And I know that was no easy piece of property to get developed in the first place.”

“There were a lot of things that came up beyond the development agreement itself so that gives me some confidence in this particular developer that things are moving forward,” Morton said.

Councilor Kathy Martin-Willis abstained from voting because she is a trustee at the Elks Lodge.

“I would like to add that I think the idea is exciting and I'm excited for the Elks,” Ranstrom-Smith said. “I am however concerned that the Youngs have entirely too much on their plate right now so I'm going to be a no, but excited to see what could happen for the Elks.”

Corr said she echoed Ranstrom-Smith's sentiment.

They both voted against the action, and Martin-Willis' abstention counted as a 'no' vote.

Councilors Michael Hicks, Tom Takacs and Morton voted in favor. Mayor John McArdle voted in favor of the action, breaking the tie.

In other business, the council:

  • Reappointed Nancy Lodge to the library board.
  • Appointed Rebecca Jay to the planning commission.

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