GOSHEN — After nearly half a year of uncertainty and negotiation, a Goshen developer hoping to purchase and renovate a historic Third Street house previously targeted for demolition by the city had his purchase agreement finalized during a meeting of the Goshen Redevelopment Commission Tuesday afternoon.
At the meeting, commission members approved a contract with Adam Scharf, the city’s new clerk-treasurer and owner of Rethinking Buildings LLC, for the purchase and restoration of the commission-owned brick house, located at 401 S. Third St., as well as an additional, connected house located at 204 W. Madison St., for a total cost of $25,000.
A LONG ROAD
Tuesday’s meeting served as the culmination of more than five months of discussions and negotiations between Scharf and the commission related to the building’s purchase.
The commission’s members first received Scharf’s proposal during their Sept. 10 meeting in reply to a request for proposals seeking offers for the two buildings, which in recent years have served as rental properties, as well as three nearby vacant lots at 405, 409 and 411 S. Third St.
However, during their Oct. 8 meeting, commission members voted to find Scharf’s original bid, then $237,000, was not a full-price offer as initially believed.
Given the submitted bid was determined not to be a full-price offer, commission members at the conclusion of their Oct. 8 discussion voted to extend the RFP submission window for an additional 30 days to allow more time for offers to be submitted, as is customary under such circumstances.
However, upon reintroducing Scharf’s proposal during the commission’s Nov. 12 meeting, Mark Brinson, director of community development for the city, suggested it may be in the commission’s best interest to have the proposal evaluated one last time before making their final decision.
“What we usually do when we have a proposal is we have a committee, which we had in this case, and that committee ... reviewed the proposal and determined that it was not a qualifying proposal at that time. It could be considered a qualifying proposal now,” Brinson said at the time, noting that Scharf’s proposal remained the sole proposal to be submitted through the RFP process as of the Nov. 12 meeting. “So, what we might want to do — if you guys are willing to do it — is refer it back to the committee for a recommendation, because they really never made a recommendation on it before.”
The council agreed, and a motion was passed unanimously to refer Scharf’s proposal back to the committee for final review and a recommendation.
When the proposal came back during the commission’s Dec. 10 meeting, commission members indicated their willingness to move forward with Scharf’s planned purchase, though not before recommending a number of changes to his original proposal.
Among those recommendations was to allow Scharf to purchase the connected houses at a cost of $25,000, while removing the option for him to purchase the three nearby vacant lots at 405, 409 and 411 S. Third St., which would instead remain under ownership by the commission.
It was also suggested Scharf be required to demolish the 204 W. Madison St. house by May 31. That structure has been deemed too dilapidated to restore. The demolition cost will be subtracted from the overall purchase price of the two properties.
During Tuesday’s meeting, commission members ultimately decided to enter into a purchase agreement with Scharf for the property’s sale, which included all of the previously recommended changes discussed at the Dec. 10 meeting.
Additionally, the RDC agreed not to develop the real estate to the west of the site along the millrace without Scharf’s consent. The RDC also agreed to abstain from building a parking lot on the lots to the south of the property, except to provide parking for new development on those lots.
Scharf’s proposal states he plans to stabilize and substantially renovate the dilapidated Third Street home.
A sample of some of the repairs that will be required of Scharf as part of the purchase agreement include: repair of the bricks at the front porch entry; replacing the front door and all interior doors; repairing all cracks in the walls and ceilings; treating for termites and replacing all termite damaged wood; replacing all leaking plumbing pipes; repairing and replacing the windows; and replacing the furnace. All repairs must be completed by Dec. 31.
While the initial intent of his plan is residential use for the Third Street property, Scharf noted the project will be receptive to viable and compatible light commercial/ professional or mixed uses that may arise.
Scharf also indicated he would be willing to consider partnering with other local entities or developers who might be interested in having a hand in the historic building’s restoration.
In the end, a majority of the commission’s members agreed with Scharf’s plan, and the purchase agreement was approved in a vote of 4-1 in favor. Voting in favor of the agreement were commission members Brian Garber, Andrea Johnson, Vince Turner and Brett Weddell.
Voting against the agreement was Tom Stump, who, while generally opposed to the overall plan, took particular exception to the RDC’s agreement not to develop the RDC-owned lots to the south of the Third Street property for additional parking.
In explaining his concerns, Stump referenced the planned construction of a new multi-use pavilion and ice rink on the Goshen millrace’s west bank, noting he feels having the option to add additional parking near that site might be beneficial once the facility is up and operating.
“I will say that I’m not going to vote for this anyhow, because I think the building should have been torn down,” Stump said prior to Tuesday’s vote. “But, I think to limit ourselves about building a parking lot on these other two or three lots to the south is not a good idea, when we don’t know if we have enough parking to start with for this new event center.”
Originally brought up as an item for consideration during the commission’s May 14 meeting, the previous call for demolition of the two buildings involved a desire by some on the commission to demolish them rather than make any substantial investments in the aging buildings.
However, commission members ultimately ended up pulling back on that demolition plan after several community members, as well as the Goshen Historical Society, raised concerns that the brick home, reportedly constructed in the 1860s, may have historical significance for the city and thus warrant preservation.
During their June 11 meeting, commission members agreed to table the item for 90 days to allow time for more research on the history of the buildings, and to accept any proposals from people who may want to purchase them. Scharf’s was the sole proposal to be submitted as part of that process.
According to Scharf, the brick building at 401 S. Third St. is perhaps the only known structure pre-dating the construction of the Goshen millrace still standing in the immediate vicinity of the waterway that once powered factories in the city, and thus warrants being restored and preserved.