RACINE — The city will get a 5,100-square-foot commercial building to add to its portfolio of Uptown buildings — for $250.
Nelson Electric Supply Co. is turning over 1248 Washington Ave. to the city in what City Principal Planner Matt Sadowski called a “friendly condemnation.” That required the Racine Redevelopment Authority to find the 1928 building — originally a Packard dealership — as presenting “spot blight” in a meeting Monday.
Despite that designation, Sadowski said, “It’s not in bad shape.”
The $250 price tag is the City’s only cost, Sadowski said, because federal grant money covers both the environmental investigation that’s been done and the estimated $30,000 in remediation work to come.
By year’s end, Sadowski said, the building should be available for the City to lease out — and ultimately sell if and when Uptown’s economic condition improves.
The structure’s B-3, or general commercial, zoning will allow a wide variety of potential uses. As examples, that could include light manufacturing, auto repair or a restaurant, Sadowski said.
“It’s in relatively good shape and we’re starting a planning program for the Uptown area,” he said, “so we’re very excited about that and to be able to control a building of this visibility, it’s very desirable.”
Similarly, the city also owns Uptown buildings at 1418 and 1511 Washington Ave. Those are zoned B-2, a narrower zoning than B-3.
Nelson Electric President Tom Leuenberger said his company, headquartered at 926 State St., bought the former auto dealership building in the mid-1960s for extra warehouse space. When it built its current, 40,000-square-foot distribution center at 821 S. Airline Road in 1999, the older warehouse “was used less and less and less.”
Just before last Christmas, Nelson offered it to the city, knowing of the desire to lift Uptown’s fortunes, Leuenberger said. From a tax standpoint, it was sensible to make the donation instead of trying to sell it, he said. Neither he nor Sadowski was quite sure where the $250 price came from.
There will be some roof work, Sadowski said, the hydraulic lifts and a small below-ground fuel tank and the lead-based paint will be removed, and as well as the asbestos-containing floor tiles. The work should be finished by year’s end, he said.
The building’s acceptance is pending City Council approval.