Shiny new buildings were all the rage in the 1980s, according to Connie Thompson.
The president of the Casper Historic Preservation Commission said many of the city’s older structures were torn down and replaced with modern designs during that decade.
“We’ve already lost so much,” she said, explaining why she hopes city leaders will preserve the former Plains Furniture Company store.
City officials purchased the former Plains Furniture Company store, located near the intersection of David Street and Midwest Avenue, and the surrounding land and buildings for approximately $3 million in 2016 with no exact plans for its use.
The City Council has since sold off two buildings within the block — including the former Milo’s Toyota body shop and the former Ka-Lark’s gymnastics studio — to local entrepreneurs who agreed to respect the historic integrity of the structures.
Council members will be discussing what to do with the remaining properties at a Wednesday work session.
Community Development Director Liz Becher said she will be presenting two possible options: A request for proposal or a request for bid.
“The request for proposal is asking for redevelopment ideas that would preserve the existing buildings as much as possible and bring economic development into the area … The request for bids is solely looking at who is going to offer the most money,” she explained.
The Council initially considered demolishing the buildings and turning the area into a parking lot, but two surprising discoveries have since put that plan on hold.
About a month after the city purchased the property, an old photo revealed that the building next door — a restored 1920s fire station that now houses commercial space — had a garage, which was later covered by the furniture store.
Another discovery was made last summer: Behind the ceiling tiles and white-painted dry wall of the store are the remnants of Nolan’s Chevrolet dealership, a 1920s staple in downtown Casper.
“We bought it with the idea that we weren’t quite sure what the plans would be and then once we found out the history of the building … That just kind of puts a whole new light on it,” Councilman Bob Hopkins previously told the Star-Tribune.
Although the commission would like the buildings to be saved, some have expressed concerns about the potential costs.
Brandon Daigle, the chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, told the City Council members last month that they would likely have to spend a significant amount on renovations before the remaining properties could be sold off to be redeveloped.