Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 20, 2013

City tears down, purchases properties

Armstrong Landon building now city-owned

By Scott Smith
Kokomo Tribune

— The tallest building in downtown Kokomo is now under city control, after the Kokomo Board of Public Works & Safety agreed to purchase the Armstrong Landon building and two nearby parking lots for $395,000.

The city announced in April it intended to purchase the six-story building, the parking lot behind the building and a parking lot across Superior Street on the west side of the Indiana Department of Revenue building.

The Armstrong building has been vacant since Harris Bank moved out in 2011.

In April, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said the city simply wants to control future development on a key downtown corner.

“I don’t want to still own the building in six months or eight months,” Goodnight said in April. “We’re not looking to expand the city’s footprint, or the size of city government. We’re not looking to relocate city offices.”

Bolinger Enterprises purchased the building, 105 W. Sycamore St., from Harris Bank for $200,000 last year.

The previous time the building sold, in 2002, First National Bank & Trust paid $5.3 million, according to county tax records. Harris merged with First National in 2008.

With the commercial real estate market hard hit by the recession, it has become more commonplace for cities to step in to finance deals, particularly on properties which might serve a particular use in developing a geographic area.

In April, city attorney Lawrence McCormack said the city may turn the property over to the Kokomo Redevelopment Commission, which would in turn seek to find a buyer/developer for the property.

In other business:

• The board of works accepted the donation of the former 24-Hour Club, 218 N. Apperson Way, from a Colorado investment firm. Within an hour after the board’s acceptance of the property, city street department crews were on site with demolition equipment.

City officials said the property, which originally was built as an American Legion Hall, has been vacant for at least five years, and was in an unsafe condition. In May, the city received demolition bids on the property and city officials appeared likely to demolish the structure regardless of whether the absentee owners agreed.

The city also agreed to accept the donation of another long-vacant property, 226 E. Murden St., which sits in the middle of the floodplain just south of the Wildcat Creek. The house will be demolished, and the city won’t allow any rebuilding on the lot, due to frequent flooding.

• The board of works hired a consultant to start design work on the Ivy Hills sewer extension, the first step to bring sewers to the far southside addition.

Ivy Hills residents petitioned the city for sewers, and city officials said more than 35 percent of the property owners there signed on to the petition.

Residents who have a working septic system won’t be required to hook onto the sewer, the cost of which will be split between the city and the residents who connect.

City engineer Carey Stranahan said the cost per home will be capped at $6,000 for construction. Residents who connect will also be required to pay a $1,250 tap fee, and the costs associated with running a lateral from their house to the new sewer.