Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 9, 2013

Downtown building to be analyzed

Kokomo could purchase Armstrong-Landon property.

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writer

— The Kokomo Common Council gave its approval to an analysis of the Armstrong-Landon property in downtown Kokomo as a possible future economic development property.

Council members voted unanimously Monday to pass a resolution authorizing two independent appraisals of the property and a determination of the condition of the building.

Passage of the resolution authorizes the city to eventually purchase the building.

Located at 105 W. Sycamore St., the building was purchased in 2012 by Bolinger Enterprises from Harris Bank for $200,000. There is about $128,000 in back property taxes owed on the property.

The building has been vacant since 2011 when Harris Bank moved out. The building was sold in 2002 to First National Bank & Trust for $5.3 million.

The proposal also includes two parking lots at 112 Superior St. and South Main Street.

Councilman Tom Miklik said the Kokomo Board of Public Works & Safety would have to negotiate a purchase price if the city decides to move forward with the project.

“Many cities our size and larger get involved in the purchase of real estate to promote downtown development,” Miklik said.

Council President Mike Kennedy said the city has had some inquiries from small business owners interested in the property. He said those business owners can’t afford to purchase the property and can’t use all the space in the six-story building.

“This is a good economic development tool,” he said.

Kennedy said the city purchases residential properties that are rehabilitated and then sold to private individuals.

Miklik said funding for the project would come from the city’s portion of Economic Development Income Tax revenues.

“This will be revenue neutral for the city,” he said.

Resident Jay Noel said the entire proposal is moving pretty fast and more information is needed. He asked who will pay for the appraisals and any work that needs to be done to the building.

Kennedy said someone has to determine the work that needs to be done.

Councilman Bob Hayes said the economic development fund will pay for the appraisal.

“I would like to see something happen,” Noel said, “but at who’s expense?”

Councilwoman Cindy Sanders said people want to see more businesses locate in the downtown area.

“This gives us the ability to have an opportunity to develop the property,” she said.

Mayor Greg Goodnight said last week he doesn’t want the city to own the building in six or eight months.

The property could be turned over to the Kokomo Redevelopment Commission to sell to a buyer or potential developer.