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Ash Street Redevelopment

A vacant building, which at one time was a livery stable, and the former Ka-Larks gymnastics studio were bought by the city of Casper in 2016. Bids for the building came in under the appraised value.

Casper’s leaders are hoping to sell a block of property downtown that contains a parking lot and a former livery stable.

The City Council rejected two bids for the property at Tuesday’s meeting — both of which came in at under the appraised value. The request for proposals will subsequently be released again to the public, City Manager Carter Napier said.

“Hopefully (we’ll get) some market-driven direction with regards to the pricing that may potentially lead to getting these buildings into the hands of the private sector and getting some projects complete,” he said.

The land — located along South Ash Street — was part of the former Plains Furniture property block, which also included a former auto shop and gymnastics studio. The latter two buildings were already sold to local entrepreneurs in 2017.

The Council considered the two bids during a work session last month. City Attorney John Henley explained at the time that selling the property below its appraised value could potentially be problematic because the RFP stated that the appraised value needed to be met.

“We can’t give public funds, value, property (or) wealth to private individuals,” he said.

Henley advised rewording the RFP to allow for flexibility in terms of the asking price.

The parking lot and former livery building were appraised at $275,000 and $300,000, respectively.

Due to the poor condition of the former livery stable, council members briefly discussed whether demolishing the structure would possibly lead to more favorable bids. But Napier said that would come with its own set of challenges.

“The problem would be that your investment in that property would therefore go up,” he said. “The question then would become whether or not recouping those costs, as well as your purchase cost, would make sense. That could complicate the discussion.”

The Council ultimately decided they would reject the bids and release a new and reworded RFP. The new proposals are due by May 3.

Mayor Charlie Powell said at the work session that money shouldn’t be the only factor taken into consideration.

“We have a responsibility, in my opinion, to look at these proposals and say, ‘Is this the right thing for this piece of ground?’” he said, explaining that the Council should do what is in the overall best interest of the city.

David Kelley, who won the bid for the former body shop in 2017, was one of the two applicants who submitted a proposal. The owner of Ashby Construction said Wednesday that he had planned to demolish the building and use the land to create commercial spaces.

“There’s no hope for that building,” he said. “It needs to be torn down, so I think that the appraisal that they had was considerably higher than it should have been.”

Kelley said he was unsure if he will be submitting another proposal.

City officials purchased the former Plains Furniture property block in early 2016 with the hopes of selling off different sections to buyers who would redevelop the existing structures.

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Local Government Reporter

Katie King joined the Star-Tribune in 2017 and primarily covers issues related to local government. She previously worked as a crime reporter in the British Virgin Islands. Originally from Virginia, Katie is a graduate of James Madison University.

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