It looks like the City of New Albany may be able to purchase the former Fred’s building and convert it into a municipal services building.
The building, apparently one of relatively few actually owned by Fred’s rather than leased, was put on the market about the time the company announced the New Albany store would close.
The city has made an offer on the building, tentatively received by attorneys for the company, Mayor Tim Kent said.
The city first offered $450,000 in response to an asking price of $700,000 for the building, but then the company froze all real estate transactions while dealing with the closing of all the stores.
This past week, Kent said the company had sent a contract to the city for a price of $510,000, plus the city would pay its real estate agent three percent and Fred’s would pay their agent three percent.
Included in the contract was the stipulation that the city would hold Fred’s harmless for any future damage or loss.
City Attorney Regan Russell said he did not feel comfortable signing that because state law limits such an action.
Kent said the city looked into having a third party buy the property and then sell it to the city, and had that worked out, but Fred’s attorneys agreed to modify the contract to limit damages to what is covered under state law.
One possible problem is that the property is in bankruptcy court, but Kent said the judge appears to be willing to clear the property as soon as possible.
Another complication might be that a large company could buy all the Fred’s buildings at once, but Kent said if that happened he couldn’t see a reason why that company would not be willing to sell to the city.
An answer should be forthcoming in a week or two.
The original proposal by the city included a stipulation that the Fred’s property be certified as not flood-prone, since it is in the federally-designated flood plain.
Kent said part of this certification has been done and there should be no problem since a building across the river, which is slightly lower than the Fred’s property, has been so certified.
The city has been looking for property on which to build a new police department and light, gas and water department for several years.
Kent said each of the two departments’ proposed plans call for about 4,000 square feet of space and the Fred’s building is 17,000 square feet, allowing plenty of room for both departments, a municipal courtroom, city board room and possibly some other use.
Buying the Fred’s building would potentially save the city millions of dollars, avoid having a large empty building that might be difficult to sell, and put the new offices in a convenient central location.
All the concrete parking area around the building, including the access drive to Carter Avenue, goes with the property.