AVON PARK — Avon Park has become closer to owning a bit of its own history.
The Avon Park City Council unanimously approved a purchase contract to establish a 45-day due-diligence period to determine the possibility of buying the Brickell Building.
The council voted Monday to clear City Manager Julian DeLeon to use city money to buy the Brickell Building from Citizens Bank & Trust.
The city council voted 3-0 — Mayor Sharon Schuler and Councilman Garrett Anderson were absent — to approve a $15,000 deposit that goes into escrow until a closing on the sale is reached. They also voted to execute a contract for the purchase of the property subject to future city council approval with the due-diligence period in place.
The historic downtown anchor building has been vacant for at least five years, Deleon said. The 25,453-square-foot, two-story building at 2 E. Main St. and South Lake Avenue has been partially renovated and has retail and professional space on the bottom floor and partially built-out apartments on the second floor. It is located directly across from the historic Hotel Jacaranda on Main Street.
Deleon said less than two years ago the building was up for sale for $1.3 million and the city negotiated a price of $370,000, which he called “a darn good deal.” He said the adjacent seventh-tenths of an acre parking lot is estimated to be worth $90,000 and would benefit surrounding downtown commercial areas and could be used for public purposes.
During the next month and a half, the city will be studying various options for the purchase and Deleon said he welcomes input from residents or members of the business community regarding its eventual use.
Deputy Mayor Brenda Giles said the city hasn’t discussed in detail what would be done with the building is bought and she has her “own ideas.” She also said she has never been an advocate of the city as “landlords” but thinks it would be in the best interest to own it.
“There are certain things, if we own it, we have control of and in the long-run it could be better for the city,” she said.
In other action Monday, the city approved 2-0 (Councilman Terry Heston abstained) a developer’s agreement with Ben Hill Griffin Inc. to annex and provide future utility services to another 200 acres near Little Red Water Lake. In the agreement, the city would assist Ben Hill Griffin Inc. to get zoning for development and construct a water distribution transmission for the area. The future annexation increases the city limits by another one-third square mile. City Attorney Gerald Buhl has been asked to start drafting the annexation ordinances.
The current property owner is giving the city a 25-foot easement for utility construction and if the work is done in-house, it is expected to cost $54,000 compared to $130,000 if out-sourced.
Deleon said with the city experiencing rapid growth, decreased rate structures and low operating overhead has made it “easy” for the area to become part of Avon Park.
“Over the past few years, we have developed several significant partnerships with large property owners. We have repeatedly annexed and constructed the needed infrastructure to provide immediate or future municipal services. Most of our work is done in-house with our utility crews, which keeps our overhead very low,” he said.
The city also unanimously approved a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant under the direction of the Avon Park Southside CRA District Board. The grant is needed to boost and revamp business development in the business corridor of Delaney Avenue and Hal McRae Boulevard.